They are a thing of beauty aren't they? I get more in-depth on my Framing Basement Walls page (https://www.howtofinishmybasement.com/frame-basement-walls/), but this is meant to be a quick tutorial on how to build floating walls for your basement finishing project.
You’re probably looking at my picture and wondering what’s the deal? C'mon Tony, why so many plates? Well I chose to use an extra plate on top of my pressure treated plate so that I could accommodate a standard 96″ sized stud without having to cut them. I figured the less wood I have to cut the more time I can save. I consulted with my inspector first, and he said as long as the float gap wasn’t larger than 3″ that would be fine. Even though it cost me a bit of money to add an extra plate, I figured the time I would save by not having to measure and cut every wall stud would be well worth it in the end, and it was!! So if you thought I was an idiot after looking at the picture, well HA, joke's on you.
How To Build A Floating Wall
I’m assuming you’ve already completed two things:
1. Pressure treated plate is nailed and glued down
2. You’ve snapped a chalk line or marked lines up to your ceiling joists for your top plate
Now it's time to start building your floating wall on the floor. Always remember when you measure from your pressure treated plate to the ceiling joists that you’ll have to subtract 3″ for the top and bottom plate of your wall, along with minimum 1 1/2″ for your floating gap. So that makes a minimum of 4 1/2″ total you’ll have to subtract from this measurement to get the proper height of the studs for your floating wall. DON'T FORGET TO DO THIS! That means I forgot to do it and I can tell you from experience it's not fun when you realize it.
From here you’ll want to cut your studs to the proper height, mark out your 16″ on center on the top and bottom plates and nail your studs in. At this point I used the following steps to be sure the floating wall was flush with the pressure treated plate while still remaining strong and rigid after putting it up:
1. Lift your wall and rest it on the pressure treated plate
- These need to be touching so you can hold a square up against your pressure treated plate and bottom plate of your wall
2. Use clamps or have someone help hold the wall up while you drill holes every 24″
3. Drill your holes straight down the bottom plate into the pressure treated plate
- Use the square to ensure your bottom plate is flush with the pressure treated plate while drilling
4. Lift your wall and nail to your ceiling joists
- I accomplished this by myself by nailing another extra plate to my ceiling joists then using clamps to hold the wall up as I nailed it in
5. Grab your steel spikes and hammer them in through the holes you pre-drilled
I chose a drill bit size that was exactly as wide as my steel spikes. I wouldn’t recommend using a much bigger drill bit because then your wall can wobble a bit. I actually had to hammer hard to get them in and when I was done the wall was as solid as could be.
And that's it! Floating basement walls really can seem daunting at first but if you use this method you’ll always ensure a floating wall that is flush, solid, and ready for use.
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