How to Frame a Kneewall in the Basement

by on February 20th, 2011
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A kneewall is a small wall used to divide a space without completely separating it in two. A kneewall can also be used on top of a standard-sized wall in a room with high ceilings. In a basement, a kneewall is generally used as a short divider. This requires you to attach the kneewall to the concrete floor. A hammer just will not get this job done, so you must use a powder-accentuated nailing tool. This tool holds an explosive shell that drives a specially made nail through wood and into concrete.

Treated boards (2 inches by 4 inches by 10 feet)
Circular saw
Single-shot, powder-actuated nailing tool (.22 caliber)
Shells and 16d nails for the nailing tool
Boards (2 inches by 4 inches by 8 feet)
16d framing nails
Framing hammer
Work gloves
Safety glasses
Hearing protection

Step 1
Lay treated boards along the length of the knee wall. Cut the boards as necessary with your circular saw. Do not use a board less than four feet long as a bottom plate. Hold the boards securely against the floor, and drive nails through it with your powder-actuated nailer. Place a nail every three feet along the entire length of the wall.

Step 2
Lay a line of untreated boards beside the bottom plate. Cut the boards as necessary. Do not end an untreated board where a bottom plate board ends. Stand each board on its side next to the bottom plate. Cut another set of boards to match the first. Lay the second set of boards parallel to the first. Arrange the second set of boards so that the seams are not in line with those of the first set.

Step 3
Cut a stack of studs. Subtract six inches from the height of your kneewall. Cut the studs to this length. Prepare enough studs so that you can fill the wall by placing one stud every 16 inches along the entire length of the frame. Place the studs between your parallel rows of wood on the floor. Arrange each stud so that it is parallel to the longer boards. Push the longer boards toward the studs to prepare the frame for assembly.

Step 4
Drive two of your 16d framing nails through the larger board and into the end of a stud at each intersection. Connect both ends of each stud to the frame in this manner. Keep the stud on either end of the assembly flush with the ends of the longer boards. Leave 14 1/2 inches of space between each pair of studs in order to comply with the 16 inch center-to-center spacing required by local building codes.

Step 5
Stand the kneewall frame on top of the treated bottom plate nailed to the floor. Attach the frame to the bottom plate by driving two nails every 36 inches with your powder-accentuated tool. Take your time, and keep the bottom of the frame flush with the bottom plate.

Step 6
Lay a row of untreated boards on top of the frame. Cut the boards as necessary. Stagger the seams between the boards so that none match the seams in the top of the frame. Connect the top plate with the frame by driving two of your 16d nails every 30 inches along the length of the entire wall.

To mount your kneewall on top of another wall frame, you must build the small frame on the floor, lift it into place and nail it to the existing wall. Once it’s mounted, plumb the kneewall extension, and nail it to the overhead joists. All of this can be accomplished with a framing hammer and 16d nails.

Work gloves and safety glasses are required when using hand and power tools.

Hearing protection is required, along with your gloves and glasses, when using a power or powder-actuated tool.

Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a powder-actuated tool. A powder-actuated tool uses gun powder to drive a nail through wood and concrete. This process is extremely hazardous and should not be attempted by anyone who has not been properly instructed in the use of such tools.

Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a power tool.

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