When building a house, it seems like there’s a long list of things that the average person doesn’t know. But learning as much as you can is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to where you live. One thing that is important to know is how far apart are studs when building a house or even taking one down. Learn what you need to know about wall stud spacing today to save you the trouble of learning it tomorrow.
How Far Apart Are Wall Studs?
Wall studs are the vertical boards that are added to your wall to ensure that it is stable and that the wall coverings have something to attach to. But unless you have experience with construction, you probably don’t know how far apart to space the wall studs.
While most wall studs are the same distance apart, there are exceptions. For one, not all wall spaces are visible by the number that most studs are distanced. And for another thing, there are always exceptions depending on the type of boards you use.
Average Distance Between Studs
The most common, and standard distance between wall studs is 16-inches. So if you don’t know how to space your studs then space them at 16-inches. This is what most contractors use for all wall studs.
Drywall And Wall Stud Spacing
This is the main reason that drywall is 4-ft wide and why studs are spaced at 16-inches. Because drywall is four feet it is divisible by 16. This means that each piece of drywall will be centered at each stud.
This means you won’t have to cut each piece of drywall if the walls are 8-ft tall, which is also the standard. You will have to cut the last piece if the width of the wall isn’t divisible by 4-ft, but that will be just one piece.
Load-Bearing Vs. Non-Load-Bearing
This is a very important thing to take into account. There is a huge difference between load-bearing walls and non-load-bearing walls. Load-bearing walls are relied on for structural integrity while non-load-bearing walls are not.
To find out if a wall is load-bearing, follow it up from the bottom. If there isn’t any other wall above it, then it probably isn’t load-bearing. But if you are building a new wall, things can be different.
Hopefully, you have things planned out. Because walls that aren’t load-bearing have more room for spacing. While it is recommended to make sure the studs are 16-inches apart, a little further won’t hurt for non-load-bearing walls.
Everything you need to know about load-bearing walls is quite extensive because your house’s structural integrity depends on it. For a full guide on load-bearing walls, check out this load-bearing wall piece.
Calculating How Many Wall Studs You Need
Calculating the number of studs you need for your project is easy after you learn how to do it once. If you can do it once, you can do it a thousand times. These steps can help you determine exactly how many studs you need.
Step 1: How Long Is The Wall?
The first thing you need to do is find out how long the wall will be. When windows and doors are added, the math changes, but let’s pretend it’s a simple wall. For this example, let’s pretend that the wall will be 12-feet-long.
Step 2: Convert To Inches
Convert the 12 feet into inches by multiplying by 12. So twelve times twelve is 144. That’s the number we will use for our calculations, but if your wall is different then you can multiple that number by twelve instead.
Step 3: Find The Number Of Studs
Now all you need to do is divide the total by 16 because each stud will be spaced at 16-inches. So we take 144 and divide it by 16 to get 9. Since we will need a starting stud, you need to add more, which is 10.
Parts Of A Wall
Sometimes, when you get so caught up in figuring how many studs you need for your wall, you can neglect the other boards you need. To make sure you cover all of your bases, it’s a good idea to learn the parts of a wall.
The header is only needed for walls with windows and doors. This header goes above the windows and doors and acts as the top frame for them, starting at the top plate and ending at the studs that are framing the door.
We’ve already talked about this, but there are multiple different types of studs. Such as a king stud which goes along the length of the wall next to doors and windows, holding the frames for them in.
You already know what a sill is because it is the same before the window is put in. A windowsill, or sill plate, goes just below the window and is what the window will be placed on. The sill holds the window up.
A cripple is a short boat that goes under the window and holds the windowsill up. There are usually two or more cripples under the window, depending on how wide the window is. Cripples keep windowsills from sagging.
A trimmer is a longboard that goes between the king stud next to the windows and doors and the door/window itself. It goes underneath the headers and holds the headers up. There should be two trimmers for each window/door.
The top plate goes all the way across the top and is placed on top of each stud and header. Most of the time, there are double top plates, especially on load-bearing walls. Double top plates are simple two plates screwed or nailed together.
The bottom plate is just like the top place but it is on the bottom. Another name for the bottom plate is the sole plate as it is the sole of the wall and everything rests on it. This is the first board you will place if building the wall vertically.
How To Find Wall Studs
There are multiple ways to find wall studs. The easiest way is with a stud finder, which is a type of tool you move across the wall. When you run into a stud, the stud finder will either beep or light up, depending on the type of stud finder you have.
But if you don’t have a stud finder, there are still multiple ways to find studs in your wall. Check out these methods for great ways to locate studs without spending a cent nor drilling unnecessary holes in your wall.
Look At The Trim And Baseboards
If you have trim or baseboards on your wall, it is an easy way to find out where the studs are located. There should be nails in them that are where the studs are located. However, they could also be nailed to the top or bottom plate.
If the nails are on the very bottom or top of the baseboard then they are probably on the plates, not the studs. But if they are at least 2-inches above or below the top, then they are probably nailed to a stud.
Find Switches Or Outlets
Switches and outlets are always secured to a stud. The question is, which side are they secured to? You can try both sides, or follow the switch up or down. If there is a nail straight up or down from one side, then there is probably stud there.
Switches are outlets are usually installed on the right side of the stud, so take a look on the left side of the switch or outlet first. This is most likely where a stud will be located. From there, you can start measuring.
Measure 16 Inches
This works with the other methods or alone. You can start at a stud that you have found or at the end of the wall. However, you may be slightly off if starting from the end as there could be a double stud.
Start where the drywall begins because this is where the studs will go from. You can try the knock test, but if you aren’t accustomed to the differences in the sound the wall makes then you notice where the wall is hollow.
Look For Imperfections
This isn’t a great way to do it if you have good taping jobs done, but it works for bad taping or mudding. Look for any signs of mudding or drywall tape. If you see a vertical line of tape, that is where a stud can be found.
Measure 16 inches from there or use the stud that had been taped. Hopefully, you can’t use this method because it means your drywall mudding job was done perfectly. But if you can use this method, then do it.
Hiring A Professional
I always stand by my claim that hiring a professional is always preferable if you can afford it. But that’s the problem. Not everyone can afford it. But if you can, then go for it unless you want more endings similar to the bad taping jobs.
However, even when you do hire a professional, ask if you can stick around to learn what you can. Because what you don’t know today could be something you’re an expert at tomorrow! So keep learning!
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