How to Install a Dividing wall in a Basement

When figuring out how to install a dividing wall in a basement it is wise to consider not just the layout of the basement itself, but the materials used to build the walls and floor. Cement block for walls is common, however walls may also be constructed from a heavy grade treated plywood or even poured cement. The floor is normally cement slab.

Generally the walls will be slightly uneven as will the floor. Besides being wavy, floors may be sloped toward drains. For this reason constructing an interior frame wall may be problematic. In this case it may be wedged if the floor is not too bad. It may be better to use stick construction of the wall, nailing a 2X4 top plate to the ceiling, dropping a plumb line and attaching a sole plate to the floor directly below it. Then toe-nailing 2X4 studs 16-inch on center (with 10D nails). This is, in effect, constructing the frame in place.

When attaching the dividing wall to the cement slab floor, set the 2X4 sole plate in place and pre-drill holes through the wood and into the floor. Use a drill-bit of less diameter than the extent of the threads on the anchor screws, but wider than its shaft. Do not drill deeper than necessary. Slab floors can vary widely in depth, avoid putting a hole in the vapor barrier beneath the cement. Construction adhesive may be used, but is not necessary. Connect the end of the interior wall to the cement outer wall in a similar manner.

Some floors built on soil with high clay content may heave up when the clay becomes wet. If this happens an interior frame wall connected inflexibly to the ceiling joists and subsequently heaved up by the floor could put uneven pressure on the floor above. The solution is to make a floating wall. Frame the wall slightly smaller than the distance between floor and ceiling. Using L-shaped steel framing clips connect the wall frame to the joists above. In this case make sure that any finish work on the corner between wall and ceiling will not be subject to cracking should there be some movement.

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