Basic Carpentry Skills and Facts You Need to Know Before Taking on a Renovation Project

Taking out or adding a wall can really redefine your living space. It’s a major undertaking that requires skill, know-how, and a fair amount of strength. That said, you should know some basic carpentry skills to help you along the way. Below, we discuss wall types and some basic wall materials and measurements you should know. Knowing this information beforehand can make your project go smoothly for a successful result. 

The Parts that Make Up a Wall

Lumber is lumber, right? It comes in different sizes, but really, one piece looks like the next. In the case of wall structure, however, the boards that make up the inside frame all have names, and you should learn their names in order to keep them all straight. 

Studs are the vertical boards that make up most of a wall’s frame. 

Bays (stud bays) are the spaces between the studs. 

The bottom plate is the horizontal board at the bottom of a wall. It is attached to the floor and the studs are attached to it. 

The top plate resides at the top of a wall’s frame. It is usually made up of two 2x4s, which attach the wall to the ceiling. 

Blocking is a method used to add support between studs for hanging things like cabinets or railings. Blocking also provides fire protection, slowing the spread of fire from floor to floor through empty bays in the walls. Blocking may also be used in spots where drywall seams don’t match up with the studs. 

Types of Walls

Every wall has a specific name given for the job it does. For example, a bearing wall (structural wall) supports the weight of the building. A partition wall is not a supporting wall, but rather, it simply divides the interior space. Joists are the framing members in the ceiling and floor, and the subfloor is attached to the floor joists, giving the walls a place to stand. 

Measurements and Materials

In general, studs are spaced 16 inches on center. On center means from the center of one stud to the center of the next one. This allows you to efficiently use standard sheets of drywall, which are 4’ x 8’. 

You may be tempted to use smaller boards to save money in your wall construction, but don’t. Using anything but 2x4s only causes headaches and may result in a wall that isn’t straight and true. It will likely warp and fail soon after construction. 

If you’re thinking of doing some renovating in your home, be sure you know the correct terminology and measurements for the task at hand. Building or removing a wall can redefine your space, but only if you do it right.