How to Build a Half Wall with Outlets

Your remodeling plans call for a non-load-bearing wall to be placed in a room to segregate part of it as a private space. This wall will make both new sections to seem much too small. One way to separate a room into smaller sections while maintaining an open feel throughout is by constructing a half wall. This is exactly what it sounds like — a half of a wall. It can span any distance, and its short stature allows you to have a large room feel in several small, semi-private areas.

Things You’ll Need
Stud finder
12-inch speed square
2-by-4 boards, 8 feet long
2-by-4 boards, 4 feet long
Drill with ¾-inch wood bit and Phillips bit
16d nails
Flat screwdriver
Razor knife
Stripping tool
4-by-8-foot drywall, 5/8-inch
Razor knife
1½-inch drywall screws
Self-adhesive mesh drywall tape
Joint compound
Sanding screens
Dry rags
Latex wall paint
3-inch natural-bristle paintbrush
Paint roller with ¼-inch nap
Work gloves
Safety glasses

Step 1
Rub your stud finder across the existing wall near an electrical outlet. Mark the wall with your pencil when the indicator light on the stud finder lights up, and again when it goes off to mark the studs in the wall.

Step 2
Find the stud where the outlet on the existing wall is located. Move one stud away and mark the edges of that stud on the floor with your pencil. Lay your 12-inch speed square against the wall aligned with the mark. Stretch your chalk box across the floor.

Step 3
Move the string of the chalk box so that it is flush with the speed square. Hold one end of the string against the floor while an assistant holds the other. Lift the middle of the string and let it go to make a chalk mark on the floor where your half wall will be placed.

Step 4
Lay your 8-foot 2-by-4s on the floor. Place each of the boards on its side. Lay the boards parallel to each other spaced 4 feet apart.

Step 5
Lay your 4-foot boards perpendicular to the longer boards. Lay each of the smaller boards on its side. Place the smaller boards so that there is a 14½-inch space between each board and the ones on either side of it.

Step 6
Lay your 4 foot boards perpendicular to the longer boards. Lay each of the smaller boards on its side. Place the smaller boards so that there is a 14 1/2 inch space between each board and the ones on either side of it.

Step 7
Lay your outlets next to the studs where they are marked on your design. Mount the outlets to the studs by driving 16d nails through the retaining holes in each outlet.

Step 8
Drill holes through the short studs for your wire chase. Drill a 1-inch hole in the center of each stud between the existing wall and the outlets on your half wall. Make each hole 6 inches higher than the placement of your new outlets. Drill a final hole into the existing wall at the same height for access to the home’s power supply.

Step 9
Assemble your frame by driving 16d nails through the top and bottom plates and into each of the short studs. Stand the short frame and line it up with the marks on the floor and the existing wall.

Step 10
Nail the frame of the half wall to the existing wall. Check the bottom plate to be sure it is still lined up with the marks on the floor. Drive two of your 16d nails through the bottom plate next to each stud to fasten the frame to the floor.

Step 11
Find the appropriate switch in your breaker box and shut off the power to your work area. Remove the face plate from the outlet on your existing wall with a flat screwdriver. Slit one end of the outer rubber armor of the romex with your razor knife. Strip the end of each individual strand with your stripping tool.

Step 12
Push the end of the romex through the holes in your new wall and into the old wall. Feed the romex into the outlet in the old wall and connect the individual strands of the romex to the wire nuts holding the matching wires inside the box. Replace the old outlet face plate.

Step 13
Cover the frame of your new half wall with drywall. Cut drywall with your razor knife. Mount the drywall to the wood frame by using the Phillips bit on your drill to drive 1½-inch drywall screws.

Step 14
Cover the seams of your drywall with self-adhesive mesh tape. Smear drywall compound over the tape and the exposed screw heads with a 6-inch putty knife. Remember to tape and mud the seams between the new and old walls. Let the compound cure overnight.

Step 15
Sand the newly dried compound with sanding screens. Smooth each seam and screw head without exposing the tape or metal under the compound. Wipe the wall clean with dry rags.

Step 16
Apply 3 coats of paint to match the existing wall with a 3-inch paintbrush and a paint roller. Let each coat dry before applying the next. Attach the face plate to the new outlet. Restore power to the work area. Plug a lamp into your old and new outlets to test the connections.

Work gloves and safety glasses are required when using hand and power tools.
Always shut off the power to your work area before beginning electrical work. Alert everyone in the home to stay away from the breaker so that no one inadvertently turns on the power during the project and causes an injury to you or starts a fire in the house.

Carpentry-Pro-Framer; The Basics of Wall Framing; Carpentry-Pro-Framer; 2011

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