How to Build an Interior Wall

Building an interior wall is a great way to reconfigure the layout of a room or divide a large space into separate areas without major construction. With the right planning and materials, you can create a sturdy and attractive wall that suits your needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of building an interior wall from start to finish.

Things to Consider Before Building an Interior Wall

Before you start building, there are some important factors to consider that will affect your interior wall project:

Purpose of the Wall

  • What will the wall be used for? Determining the purpose will inform some key decisions like size, location, and materials. Some common reasons for interior walls include:
  • Converting one large room into two separate rooms
  • Adding privacy between rooms like bedroom and bathroom
  • Creating distinct spaces like an office area within a living room
  • Consider sightlines – will you want to be able to see through the wall in certain places? This may affect materials and inclusion of doors/windows.

Placement of the Wall

  • Look at the existing layout and electrical plan to find the ideal position for the new wall.
  • It’s easiest to build directly over floor joists if working on upper levels. This provides crucial structural support.
  • Check for plumbing lines and electrical wiring in the floor and ceiling. The wall should not block access.
  • Consider door and window placements in relation to the new wall.

Load Requirements

  • Will the wall need to be structural or non-structural/partition? Structural walls support weight like ceilings and roofing.
  • Non-structural partition walls simply divide spaces and have no load. They can use lighter frameworks.
  • If load-bearing, property codes require specific sizing of studs like 2×4 or 2×6 and placement on top of double floor joists.

Wall Height

  • Standard interior wall height is 8 ft (2.4 m), matching most ceiling heights. Adjust based on your room.
  • If going all the way up to the ceiling, check for overhead pipes, ducts, wiring etc that may interfere.
  • For privacy without full ceiling height, consider building partway up with top open or glass transom.

Finishes and Features

  • Drywall is typical for smooth wall finish, but you can also use wood, bricks, glass blocks, etc.
  • Determine if the wall needs insulation for soundproofing. This affects materials used.
  • Decide if you want the wall flat or with architectural details like wall niches, glass panels, or archways.

Preparing to Build the Interior Wall

Once you know the purpose and design for the new wall, there are some important steps to take before you start the building phase:

Have Structural Integrity Professionally Verified

If you are building a load-bearing wall, consult an architect, structural engineer or experienced contractor to verify the structure can handle it. They will review the existing materials and plans to confirm everything is up to code for a new structural wall. Do not skip this, as mistakes can lead to major safety hazards.

Create a Framing Plan

Map out how the wall studs, headers and sills will be positioned. Studs typically need to be spaced 16 inches (40 cm) apart. Include any openings for doors or windows. If electrical or plumbing will run through the wall, note their positioning to integrate properly.

Obtain Permits

Most interior construction projects require some level of permit from your municipal Building Department. The permit involves submitting your design plans for review and scheduling mandatory inspections. Building without a permit can lead to fines or issues when selling the property.

Protect Surrounding Areas

The construction process can kick up a lot of dust and debris. Cover nearby furniture, electronics, flooring etc. with tarps or plastic sheeting. For rooms still in use during the work, use partitions to contain the dust. Turn off HVAC ducts in that area if possible.

Gather Materials and Tools Needed

Having all materials and tools ready beforehand makes the building process smoother. Some standard items needed include:

  • Lumber for studs, plates, and headers
  • Drywall sheets, joint compound, drywall screws
    -levels, tape measure, stud finder, ladder, etc.
    -construction adhesive, nails, screws
    -insulation like batts or spray foam
    -paint, trim pieces, baseboards

Refer to the plans to purchase the proper type and quantity of building materials for each part of the framing.

How to Build the Wall Frame

The wall framework provides the underlying support that the finishes attach to. Follow these steps to construct a secure and straight interior wall frame:

Install Bottom Plate

The bottom plate is the base of the wall frame. Use treated 2×4 lumber and cut it to the full length of the wall. Level it and attach to floor with construction adhesive and nails/screws.

Measure and Install Vertical Studs

  • Measure and mark 16″ intervals for stud placement based on your plans.
  • Using 2×4 or 2×6 studs, align the first stud vertically on the mark and attach to the bottom plate with adhesive and nails.
  • Continue positioning, leveling and fastening studs at the 16″ marks down the full length.

Install Headers Over Openings

Headers reinforce the weight over doors or windows to transfer it properly:

  • Cut two pieces of lumber the same length as the planned opening width.
  • Place one header flat atop two studs at the desired height.
  • Set the second header vertically next to it to create an integrated unit.
  • Secure firmly to studs with multiple nails.

Attach Top Plate Spanning All Studs

The top plate ties all the studs together structurally:

  • Cut a 2×4 to the full length of the wall and lay flat atop the vertical studs.
  • Ensure plate is level then nail securely through the plate into the stud ends.
  • For extra reinforcement, use a double top plate by layering two end-to-end pieces.

Include Important Features per Plans

Integrate any electrical, plumbing, insulation, etc. called for in your plans as the framework goes up. The open access makes this easiest.

Installing Drywall on New Interior Wall

With the underlying framework complete, you can now install drywall panels as the smooth wall finish:

Cut Drywall Pieces to Fit

Measure the wall sections and use a utility knife to cut sheets to size. Cut edges should align with stud centerlines. Standard drywall sheets are 4 ft x 8 ft or 4 ft x 12 ft (1.2 m x 2.4 m or 1.2 m x 3.6 m).

Lift and Fasten First Sheet to Corner Stud

Have someone assist to hold the sheet if needed. Align sheet edge to stud center and use drywall screws to secure it to corner framing. Space screws every 12 inches (30 cm) along edges and intermediate studs.

Continue Mounting Sheets Down Length of Wall

Butt each new sheet edge against the previous to cover seams. Stagger vertical seams between sheets so they do not align. Keep fastening into studs every 12 inches (30 cm).

Install Finishing Materials

Once drywall is mounted, finish the joints for a seamless look:

  • Tape all seams using special drywall joint tape.
  • Apply joint compound over tape with putty knife or trowel. Let dry then sand smooth.
  • Apply corner bead to outside corners and compound over for rounded finish.
  • Finish with desired texture and prime/paint for completed wall.

Add Moldings and Trim

Install baseboards, crown molding, door/window casings to neatly finish off the new wall. Nail into studs or use construction adhesive for secure mounting. Caulk all seams for cleaner look.

How to Build a Non-Structural Wall Frame

If your interior wall will not be load-bearing, you can use a simpler partition wall frame:

Mark Stud Layout on Ceiling and Floor

Studs can be spaced up to 24″ apart since they only hold drywall weight. Mark stud locations on ceiling and floor to align frames.

Mount Top and Bottom Tracks

Use specialized U-shaped metal top and bottom tracks. Fasten bottom track to floor first, then top track to ceiling. Maintain same 24″ spacing.

Cut and Fit Studs into Track

Measure and cut metal studs to ceiling height. Insert ends fully into top and bottom tracks and bend tabs to lock in place. Slide next stud into adjoining track slot.

Include Headers at Openings

Bend short header tracks into a U-shape. Mount headers over openings like windows, following same method as main tracks.

Add Reinforcement for Heavy Items

On partition walls, add extra studs or specialized anchors anywhere heavy items like shelving will be mounted later. This provides appropriate strength.

The partition frame is now ready for drywall mounting using the same techniques described above. Since the frame is less sturdy than a structural wall, take extra care when lifting and handling the drywall sheets to avoid bending or collapsing the studs.

Tips for Building an Interior Wall

Keep these tips in mind through the interior wall building process:

  • Use a stud finder to locate studs bordering the new wall. Align your wall frame between existing stud bays.
  • When cutting lumber or drywall, take measurements and mark cutting lines multiple times to ensure accuracy before cutting.
  • Wear safety glasses, respirator mask, gloves, ear protection and other PPE when using power tools.
  • Incorporate soundproofing as desired – options include double drywall layers, noise reducing insulation like Roxul, and acoustical caulk.
  • Ensure new wall is well integrated with vapor barrier and insulation in the rest of the home.
  • Make plumbing and electrical changes before enclosing them in drywall. Shut off water lines and power while working.
  • Fireblock any enclosed vertical spaces within wall cavities to slow fire spreading per code. Use 2x4s or rated caulk.
  • Backprime drywall with primer before mounting for moisture resistance. Facepaper absorbs more.
  • Cure mudded tape joints properly between coats. Sand lightly to avoid damaging the paper.
  • Consult an interior designer for help choosing complementary colors, trims and moldings.

Interior Wall Ideas and Alternate Materials

While standard drywall is the most common, consider these alternate interior wall materials for different looks:

Wood Paneling

  • Warm, natural look
  • Many stain options
  • Can use reclaimed boards
  • Easy DIY install with adhesive/nails

Brick or Faux Brick

  • Timeless, classic style
  • Can mix with drywall sections
  • Real or faux bricks available
  • Adds mass for sound insulation

Glass Blocks

  • Allows in natural light
  • Adds interesting visual divide
  • Grout seams like tiling
  • Can be costly


  • Huge variety of patterns available
  • Temporary and easy to change
  • Avoid thick textured papers that are hard to remove


  • Cottage or farmhouse feel
  • Crisp white painted or natural wood stain
  • Grooved planks add texture


  • Softens wall visually and acoustically
  • Ideal for bedrooms or theaters
  • Velcro strips allows easy install


  • Customizable organization
  • Useful for workshops, garages, pantries
  • Hooks, shelves easily adjustable

Don’t limit yourself to just drywall. Get creative with your interior wall finishes to match your personal style!

Frequently Asked Questions About Building Interior Walls

How thick should an interior wall be?

For structural walls, use a 2×4 or 2×6 stud frame spaced 16 inches (40 cm) apart. This creates a wall between 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) thick. Non-structural partition walls can use thinner 25-gauge metal studs spaced 24 inches (60 cm) apart for a 2-3 inch (5-7.5 cm) thickness.

Can I run electrical wiring inside an interior wall?

Yes, interior walls commonly contain electrical wiring running vertically through the stud bay or horizontally through drilled holes. Be sure to leave access points for any wiring that needs maintenance. Position outlets, switches, and fixtures according to code height and spacing requirements.

What size lumber should I use?

For load-bearing walls, use 2×4 or 2×6 studs no more than 16 inches (40 cm) apart. This provides adequate structural integrity. For non-load-bearing partition walls, you can use thinner metal studs up to 24 inches (60 cm) apart since they only carry the wall surface weight.

How do I soundproof an interior wall?

To reduce noise transmission through walls, use double drywall layers, acoustical caulk at joints, noise-reducing insulation like Roxul Safe’n’Sound, and resilient channels between drywall and studs to dampen vibration. Staggering wall studs between rooms also diminishes sound travel.

How tall can I build an interior wall?

Interior walls typically extend fully from floor to ceiling. Standard ceiling height is 8 feet (2.4 m). You can build taller if your ceiling is higher, but take care to properly support increased loads. For partial height room dividers, building codes generally require partitions to be at least 5 feet (1.5 m) high.

Can drywall go directly over brick?

Drywall should not be installed directly against brick as it will crack due to unevenness. Install furring strips spaced out from the brick surface to create a level mounting surface. The gap also allows for insulation. Alternatively, attach wood or metal studs to create a normal wall frame filled with insulation before drywall.

How long does it take to build an interior wall?

The framing of most standard interior walls can be constructed in 1-2 days by an experienced DIYer or professional. Installing and finishing the drywall adds another 1-2 days. Total time will vary based on wall size, complexity, and inclusion of electrical/plumbing components. Allow permits and inspections to add further time.


Constructing interior walls allows you to remake the layout of your home to better suit your needs and style. By following the detailed steps outlined here for planning and building a sturdy new wall with smooth drywall finish, you can successfully take on this ambitious project either yourself or with professional help. Pay attention to structural requirements, permits, safety practices, and integration of utilities within the wall cavity. Take time to also consider creative finishes beyond just drywall to add interest to your new space. With some patience and hard work, you will be able to transform any oversized room into specialized areas perfect for how you want to live.