How to Build a Non-Load-Bearing Wall

Building a non-load-bearing interior wall is a great way to divide a large room into two smaller rooms, add a closet to a bedroom, or add a pantry to a kitchen.

What is a Non-Load-Bearing Wall?

For this how-to video, we’ll show you how to build a non-load-bearing wall. But first, what is a non-load-bearing wall?

This type of wall does not support the structure of the house. You can tell if a wall is non-load-bearing if it runs parallel to the floor joists above it. 

Here’s how to go about it.

Danny Lipford removes crown molding to install a non load bearing wall.
We cut out interfering trim instead of removing the whole piece.

Lay Out Location and Remove Interfering Trim

The first step in adding a non-load-bearing wall to a home involves laying out its location. Use a chalk line to mark the location for the wall on the floor.

Remove the trim from existing walls that will interfere with the new one. In this case, we are simply cutting out small pieces of base and crown molding rather than removing entire pieces.

If you use this technique, be sure to add the thickness of the drywall on either side of the stud to your measurement. Here, that’s four and a half inches total.

Remove Adjacent Drywall and Corner bead

One end of our wall will tie into a corner to extend the existing wall so we’re removing the metal drywall corner bead to allow a smoother transition between old drywall and new. 

Lay Out Stud Locations

Before we start framing our non-load-bearing wall, we lay out the stud locations on the two-by-four bottom plate and top plates.

Studs should be centered every 16 inches. 

Install Base and Top Plates

The first piece of the new wall to go in is the bottom plate and it’s attached to the floor with construction adhesive and screws.

Next, attach the first top plate to the adjacent walls and ceiling with nails, directly above the bottom plate. Use a level or plumb bob to find the location of the wall on the ceiling and mark it with a chalk line.

Stack a second top plate on the first to stiffen it and provide a nailing surface for crown molding later. 

To ensure your studs are securely placed, you need to “toe nail” them into place.

Position and Plumb Studs

The first studs go in where the new wall meets the existing walls and these pieces are nailed to the existing wall and to the new bottom and top plate.

Next, we begin filling in the studs in the middle based on the marks we made earlier. Even though the locations are marked top and bottom. We’re using a level to ensure each stud is perfectly plumb.

Nailing at an angle like this is called “toe-nailing”  and it’s the most effective way to join studs to a plate that’s already in place.

If your wall includes a door, you’ll need a stud on either side that only goes up to the height of the door opening and two shorter studs on the inside to support the door header beam.

Install the header beam over the doorway, and cut out the bottom plate where the door is located.

John from Danny Lipford Construction finishes drywall on a non load bearing wall.
The last step for completing your non-load-bearing wall is installing the drywall using tape and joint compound.

Install Drywall and Door

Once you finish installing the remaining studs on their marks, the wall is ready to install drywall. Learn how to install drywall here. Finish the drywall with drywall tape and joint compound.

Lastly, install any door units in the new non-load-bearing wall as well as any moldings. Then prime and paint the new wall door and moldings.

Watch this video to learn more.

Further Information


  1. I have one interior wall of a new construction house that is completely held up by shims…builder says it’s normal because floor probably settled (second floor) when they were walking on it installing carpet, etc. and it was squeaking so they put shims across wall (none of wall touches sub floor) is this acceptable?

  2. Building interior non bearing wall
    In an existing room
    The new wall does not line up with a stud on the existing wall side
    How to I secure my stud to that wall with no stud to nail to only the top and bottom existing plates

  3. I want to install a non load bearing wall in a room in my house, but the room has a cove ceiling. How can you start at the ceiling when you have to deal with the arch that connects the ceiling to the wall? The home was built in 1925 in the Detroit Area.

  4. Thank you for this! A lot of people are going to be needing this advice once the stupid “open concept” fad runs its course.

  5. Wouldn’t this partition wall need electrical outlets in order to meet code? I believe most states its every 6′ for an outlet.

    • Hi, Divaakar! Building your own partition wall could cost as little as $150 to $500 for materials, depending on the size of the project.
      Good luck!

  6. Yes, that is acceptable. Shims are for leveling until it is securely fastened. Yes the shims stay in but when you set your screws it goes through the shims and into the wood. Shims shouldn’t be needed everywhere unless your contractor is new and dumb. Wherever possible it should be board on board . Even with its shims once it’s connected with the screws and such, there’s no way it’ll come apart. Good luck with everything.

  7. I had a huge living room and dining room. I needed to divide the space with a wall I could move. I built a wall and placed it on a base that supported the “surcharge” (base vs. height) and added heavy-duty wheels. It wasn’t as pretty as a permanent wall, but much more functional.


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