How to Build a Non-Load Bearing Interior 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. Here’s how to go about it.

Building a Non-Load Bearing Wall:

  • Use a chalk line to mark the location for the wall on the floor.
  • Remove any carpeting on the floor and moldings on the walls and ceilings where the wall will be.
  • Attach the base plate for the wall to the floor using construction adhesive and fasteners.
  • Use a level or plumb bob to find the location of the wall on the ceiling and mark it with a chalk line.
  • Attach the two top plates to the ceiling joists.
Framing up an interior wall.
Framing up a non-load-bearing interior wall.
  • Toenail the studs to the top and bottom plates on 16” centers.
  • Frame any door openings with a full height stud on each side of the opening and two shorter studs on the inside to support the door header beam.
  • Install the header beam over the doorway.
  • Cut out the bottom plate where the door is located.
  • Hang drywall on the new wall.
  • Install any door units in the new wall.
  • Finish the drywall with drywall tape and joint compound.
  • Install any moldings on the new wall.

Prime and paint the new wall, door, and moldings.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: The first step to building a non-load-bearing wall is determining and marking its location. Use a chalk line to ensure a perfectly straight layout line.

Where the new wall will intersect existing walls, you’ll need to either remove or notch the baseboards and crown molding. If you notch it, as we did here, don’t forget to allow a half-inch for drywall on either side of the stud.

We’re building our wall directly on top of the existing hardwood floor, so we’re applying construction adhesive before we put down the base plate. It’s OK to build over a hard surface like this; but if your room has carpet, you’ll probably want to remove it first.

Next, use screws or nails to secure the base plate to the floor along the layout line. The top plate should go directly above the base, so use leveled studs on either end to position and support it while you nail it to the ceiling joists above.

Then a second top plate goes directly beneath the first. This prevents the first from sagging and provides additional surface to nail up crown molding later on.

We’re putting two studs connected with blocking near the middle of the wall where a second new wall will intersect the first. This will allow the two walls to be securely fastened at that “T”.

Now you can fill in the rest of the studs. Because these are properly marked we don’t have to use a level to plumb every stud. Constructing the wall this way means that all the joints are toenailed at an angle, and a nail gun makes this much easier.

We need to include a doorway in this wall, so either side of it we’ll install a pack stud, or trimmer stud, which is two two-by-fours nailed together. One is the full wall height, and the other is the interior height of the door opening.

When the two shorter pieces are positioned on the inside of the doorway they can support the header at the top of the opening. In this case, because it’s non-load bearing, that consists of two two-by-fours mounted on edge at either side. Above them, shorter studs will extend to the ceiling.

At the bottom of the doorway, the bottom plate can now be cut out. The bottom side was partially cut before we installed the base, so we wouldn’t damage the flooring with the saw.

With the framing complete, the drywall can be installed over the new studs. Following that, the seams are finished with joint compound before the base and crown molding are installed. Finally, the wall is ready for paint.


  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.


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