How to Build a Stud Wall with Plasterboard

At a time when most people are knocking out walls with a sledgehammer to facilitate open-plan living, it may sound unusual that we wanted to build a wall to close in our loft. However, the problem was that our loft space on the top floor of our house felt more like an "area" than a room. Moreover, because of the eaves, there were very few existing walls tall enough that we could place furniture against, so building one made sense in order to make the room more useable.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

Materials

  • Wood 120mm x 42mm: enough to place a full-height stud every 400mm along the wall, plus about 1200mm extra per stud for noggins
  • Saw e.g. chop saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood screws
  • Panel adhesive
  • Plastic plugs e.g. to screw into plasterboard ceiling
  • Plasterboard to cover the entire area
  • Spirit level
  • Plasterboard screws
  • Utility knife
  • Measuring Tape
  • If required: electrical or plumbing supplies

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The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

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Preparation

We started by removing the old balustrade at the top of the staircase.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

Building the Stud Wall

A stud wall has the following parts:

  • Base Plate at the bottom of the wall.
  • Top Plate at the top of the wall.
  • Studs which run vertically through the wall.
  • Noggins which run horizontally between the studs.

Start by installing the base plate and top plate. As their names suggest, these form the top and bottom of the framework for the new wall.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

As you can see, we used an acrow prop to hold the top plate in place while we secured it to the ceiling. That's just because we happened to have one available, but obviously this is not a necessary piece of equipment. You can simply have an assistant hold the top plate in position, or use temporary blocks if you are working single-handedly. We used the latter method for the angled roofline of the eaves.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

To secure the plates, we used panel adhesive as well as plenty of screws (with plastic plugs in the plasterboard ceiling). Ideally we would have fixed the top plate onto an existing joist in the ceiling, but the joists here run perpendicular, so that wasn't an option as there was no joist where we wanted to erect the wall.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

Then we started to add in the vertical studs. These are deliberately spaced so that there is a stud to support the edge of each sheet of plasterboard. Since plasterboard comes in a standard width of 120cm, we placed the centres of the studs every 40cm so that the sheets of plasterboard would meet at the centre of every fourth stud. 

When cutting the studs to the correct height, measure the space between the top plate and base plate - and then add 2-3mm. The extra length will require the studs to be hammered home into position, but will also ensure a snug fit and a sturdy structure for the new wall. As you erect each one, use a spirit level to ensure that they are perfectly plumb. Screw diagonally with wood screws through the top and bottom of each stud to fix it to the top and bottom plates.

Next place 2-3 horizontal noggins in between each stud to further strengthen the structure. 

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

To secure those, screw through the studs at each side into the ends of the noggins. 

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

Adding Services

We didn't need to run any plumbing through our new wall, but we did need to run some electrical cable for a new light switch and socket. For safety reasons, all electrical cable concealed in walls must be enclosed in conduit. Drill holes in the framewok to run the conduit through, and then feed the electrical cable through the conduit. Check electrical standards to ensure that you use the correct gauge electrical cable and, if you do not have the requisite skills, please ensure that a qualified electrician connects the cables back to the main circuit. 

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

Cutting the Plasterboard

Cutting plasterboard is very simple ... when you know how! It required just three easy steps.

1. Score

Start by scoring the plasterboard with a sharp utility knife. Use a straight edge to prevent wobbly lines!

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

2. Snap

Place the edge of the plasterboard over a straight edge e.g. a table or work bench, and bend it to snap it along the scored line.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

4. Cut

Turn over the sheet of plasterboard and cut the paper at the back.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

Attach the plasterboard to the studs using specialised rustproof plasterboard screws.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

You can see in the above photo that we also added insulation behind the plasterboard. This is not really necessary for an internal wall, and particularly in this case with half the room completely open to the staircase. However, we may in time wish to fully close off the loft by extending the wall to the opposite side of the room and we felt that, in that case, the insulation would help prevent the heat from the house below escaping into the loft. Just thought I'd mention that in case you were wondering!

Finishing Touches

With the plasterboard all in place, you then have two options for finishing the wall.

The first option is called tape and joint, and involves taping the gaps between the sheets of plasterboard using a specialist scrim tape. You will notice that the edge of each sheet of plasterboard is indented to allow for this. Then a jointing compound is used to completely smooth over the indentations to create a nice, smooth finish. This method is very manageable for a DIYer, but the disadvantage is that the final finish on the wall is the paper surface of the plasterboard, which is not particularly hardwearing. 

For this reason, we decided to hire in a professional plasterer to skim the entire wall. Generally, we are game to try our hand at any trade around here, but plastering is a skill that takes time to acquire and that does not look well if not done perfectly.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

The process of skimming the entire wall starts similarly to the tape and joint method, as every joint is taped and every raw edge trimmed with beading. Then the plasterer will apply a thin coat of plaster over the entire surface of the wall before finally polishing it off so that it is perfectly smooth.

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

Decorating

The plaster needs a few days to dry thoroughly before it can be painted. Even then, it is vital to prepare the wall properly with a mist coat to avoid problems with the paint later on. 

The House that Will | How to Build a DIY Stud Wall with Plasterboard

We are absolutely thrilled with the difference this little wall has made to our loft. As you can see, we haven't really started decorating it properly yet because our priority now is to get on with painting the staircase for the makeover of our entrance hall/stairs/landing, so check back for more updates on that epic project! 

norma

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