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How Walls Are Made

Basic interior wall–framing components, including drywall, plaster, and panel constructions

Interior Wall Framing Diagram

In the illustration at right, you can see an interior wall’s basic wall-framing components.

Wall studs, typically spaced 16 or 24 inches from center to center, are the vertical supports that run from top to bottom.

Along the floor, a bottom plate serves as a base; a top plate does the same across the ceiling. Both plates are nailed to solid framing.

At openings, wall studs are doubled at each side, and a header spans the top of the opening. Fire blocks run horizontally across the center, adding support and a nailing backer for wall-covering materials.


Drywall Construction

Drywall (“Wallboard”) Construction      © HomeTips

Drywall panels are fastened directly to wall studs or to furring strips applied over masonry surfaces using wallboard nails, wallboard screws, or, in some cases, adhesive. The joints between panels are hidden by wallboard joint tape and joint compound. In some cases, a texture of special topping compound is applied over the entire surface.

Drywall is the most common of wall-covering materials. For complete directions on how to work with drywall, see How to Cut Drywall (Sheetrock) and How to Attach Drywall (Sheetrock).


Plaster Wall Construction

Plaster is made from lime or gypsum, sand, and water and is one of the oldest building materials still in use—in fact, plaster applied to the Egyptian pyramids 4,000 years ago still holds its integrity.

Plaster Wall Construction      © HomeTips

Today, plaster is applied in three layers: a base coat, a thick coat of plaster for strength, and a finishing coat.

Plaster can be applied to many surfaces, including wood lath, metal mesh, wallboard, or masonry.

Some homes may even have ornamental plasterwork formed by hand or cast in molds and applied to walls and ceilings. Plaster can be applied in decorative patterns such as swirls and peaks.

Plaster can be painted or pigment can be mixed into it before it is applied. Such decorative treatments as wallpaper and tile can be easily applied over plaster.


Interior Wall Paneling

Wall Coverings & Paneling      © HomeTips

Many homes have wood paneling that covers all or part of a wall in a living room, study, family room, or similar space.

Sometimes paneling is paired with another material on a single wall—for example, it isn’t unusual for the top of a wall to be drywall and the bottom half to be wood paneling, or wainscoting.

Wood paneling is typically installed as solid boards milled to overlap or interlock with tongue-and-groove or shiplap edges.

Wood paneling is also sold in 4-by-8-foot sheets that are fairly thin, normally 1/4 to 3/4 inch thick. These sheets can be made from different kinds of hardwood that can be given a clear finish, less expensive woods that are meant to be stained or painted, or a wood-veneer or simulated-wood material.

Paneling may be applied to drywall, directly to wall studs, or to furring strips applied over masonry surfaces.

In many areas, building codes require installing wood paneling over a backing of drywall that is fire-resistant.

Find a Pre-Screened Local Wall Framing Contractor

About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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  1. Will wainscoting reduce noise?


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