How to Build a Floating Wall
When you want to give your space a modern, minimalist look without the hassle of tearing down existing walls, floating walls are the way to go. Creating the illusion of a freestanding wall, floating walls provide dimension and interest. The best part is you don’t need any advanced DIY skills to frame and install a floating wall yourself.
First, let’s address the 800 lbs gorilla in the room; WHY? In the beginning Floating walls were designed to allow for BAD soil conditions. In certain parts of the country, soils are so bad they soil rise and fall depending on the season, climate, weather, etc…
Most houses today do not have to worry about that as the Cities have addressed issues. The main reason why floating a wall today is because the concrete floors are unlevel, and this method makes for a much easier application. Concrete floors are not level. Reasons not discussed here in this post. They can float from 1/8″ to, as much as I have seen, +3″. Because of this, you would have to cut every stud to measured height. And standing a wall can and will be a nightmare. I like simplicity.
With a few supplies from your local hardware store and a free afternoon, you’ll have a custom floating wall that looks like an expert crafted it. Follow this simple step-by-step guide, and you’ll be well on your way to a stylish new living space in no time.
Gather the Necessary Supplies for Framing a Floating Wall
To frame a floating wall, you’ll need to gather a few essential supplies.
Wood boards: For the Bottom Treated Lumber Plate, use pre-treated lumber like cedar, redwood, or pine. Cedar and redwood are naturally resistant to rot and insects. If using pine, choose boards specifically rated for ground contact. For a typical wall, 2×4 boards should work great. For the Framing above the bottom plate, use standard 2x4s found at your local hardware store.
Concrete anchors: Since attaching the frame to concrete, you’ll want to get anchors specifically meant for concrete installation. Look for wedge anchors, sleeve anchors, or drop-in anchors. These provide a stronghold. You’ll want anchors that can support the weight of your wall. We will discuss more options later in this Post.
Liquid Nail: This is used between the Floor and the Bottom Plate for a superior attachment.
Nails or wood screws: To assemble the frame, use structural wood screws. For concrete installation, the anchors will secure the frame, but you’ll still want to reinforce the joints between boards with nails or screws.
Level: A level is key for ensuring your frame is even and plumb before securing it in place. An electronic laser level will make the job easier, but a standard bubble level will also work.
Safety gear: Don’t forget essential safety gear like work gloves, protective eyewear, and a dust mask.
Once you have all the necessary supplies, you can start building your floating wall frame. Take your time measuring, leveling, and securing each component; before you know it, you’ll have a professional-looking finished product. The effort will be well worth it!
Best choice to use when fastening your bottom plate to concrete
When it comes to securing your floating wall to concrete, you have a couple of solid options. The best choice is to use concrete screws, like Tapcon screws. These screws are designed specifically for fastening materials to concrete.
To install 3 ” Tapcon Hex head, you’ll first need to drill pilot holes into the concrete using a hammer drill and masonry bit. The screws come with a drill bit that matches the screw size, so you’ll want to use that to pre-drill your holes.
Next, place your bottom plate against the concrete wall. Line it up exactly where you want your floating wall to be installed.
Then drive the Tapcon screws through the pre-drilled holes in the concrete and into your bottom plate to securely fasten it in place.
An alternative to concrete screws is concrete anchors, Pneumatic Nail Guns, and construction adhesive. However, screws tend to be a more sturdy, long-lasting solution. Screws also allow for easier removal or relocation of the floating wall in the future, if needed.
With the bottom plate securely installed, you can then attach your vertical studs and begin installing the rest of your floating wall. Take your time measuring and pre-drilling to ensure your wall ends up level for the best results. This is a great time to stand back and review your wall layout. Adjust now. If using the preferred method of concrete screws relocating the Bottom Plate is really easy. Just unscrew, move the wall over a few inches as needed, and re-screw the plate back into the concrete floor.
Using high-quality materials designed specifically for concrete installation will give you peace of mind that your floating wall is firmly and safely secured in place for years to come. And following the proper techniques, like pre-drilling pilot holes, will result in an installation that looks professional and avoids cracking the concrete.
In the end, concrete screws are your best bet for a sturdy yet non-permanent attachment method for your floating wall. With the right tools and techniques, installing your bottom plate will be a cinch!
Adding a Double Top Plate
To add stability and provide better attachment for drywall, you’ll want to install a double top plate.
What is a Double Top Plate?
A double-top plate refers to two boards placed one on top of the other at the top of a wall. The double top plate eliminates the need to align rafter heels or joists with studs and is used for better drywall and paneling attachment.
Installing the Double Top Plate
Cut three boards to the width of your wall. Use boards that are the same width as your wall studs.
Place one board on top of the wall studs.
Place Studs in between the one top plate and one bottom plate.
Secure the board to each wall stud using construction adhesive, nails, or wood screws.
Use the last board to attach to the bottom of the floor joists and in line with the Treated Bottom Plate you just installed in the prior step.
Use a Laser Level to accomplish this easier, but a standard level or plumb bob will surface.
Using the Bottom Treated Plate as a reference, locate each floor joist above and use the level to make a mark that lines up perfectly above the Bottom Treated Lumber Plate. More on the next step is below.
These steps will provide a solid double-top plate and a sturdy base for your floating wall panels. Take your time and be precise for professional-looking results.
Adding the Top Plate to the Floor Joists before hanging the wall
Add the Top Plate
Before hanging your floating wall, you’ll want to install the top plate to provide stability and make the installation process easier.
Cut a piece of 2×4 lumber to the width of your wall. This will be your top plate.
Have a helper hold the top plate to the ceiling, and flush with the bottom plate you installed earlier. Use a level to make sure it’s perfectly straight.
Once level, mark the locations of the ceiling joists on the top plate.
Remove the top plate and drill pilot holes through the marks, then reposition it against the ceiling.
Drive 3-inch wood screws through the pilot holes into the joists to securely fasten the top plate.
Note: When Attaching to the floor joist that is not in line with the Bootm Plate and perpendicular to the existing floor joist, you will need to create bridging between the Floor Joists.
Measure the distance between the joists, typically 14.5″ and lay the 2×4 flat; place the 2×4 between the floor joist so it is flush with the bottom of each floor joist you attach it to. The attachment from the joist to the top of the foundation wall is done by the same method. Cut the 2×4 longer to fit over the top of the Foundation wall.
Adding the top plate ahead of time provides several benefits:
It gives the wall rigidity, preventing swaying or instability. The top plate works with the bottom plate you installed to keep the entire frame sturdy.
It’s easier to attach the wall panels to the top plate before hoisting the wall up. You’ll have better access and maneuverability with the wall lying down.
It allows you to plumb and level the wall more accurately. Once the top plate is installed, you can use a level to ensure the wall will be perfectly vertical before raising it into place.
It’s safer to raise the wall with the top plate already secured. You won’t have to balance the wall against the ceiling while trying to screw in the top plate, reducing the chance of the wall slipping or tipping over.
When the top plate is fastened in place, you’re ready to stand up your wall and attach the panels. Take it slowly, securing temporary braces for stability as you go. With the bottom and top plates providing support, your floating wall will be level, plumb, and securely installed in no time!
Measure and Mark the Wall Studs
To frame your floating wall, you’ll first need to measure and mark where each wall stud will go. Stud spacing of 16 inches on the center is typical for homes, so you’ll want to measure and mark at 16-inch intervals along the bottom plate.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Double-check your measurements before cutting any wood. Measure from the end of the bottom plate and mark at 16 inches, 32 inches, 48 inches, and so on until you reach the end.
TIP: Studs should actually be marked 3/4 of an inch shy of the 16-inch stud marks to account for the width of the studs themselves, making it easier to see the mark to line the stud up with. The 16″ on center refers to the center of the stud. When you pull your tape measure from left to right, as an example, make a mark at 15 1/4″, 35 1/4, 47 1/4, etc… This way, you won’t have to guess where the center is on the stud.
Work in Sections
The length of the wall should only be as long as you can handle yourself. Only build 8-foot sections at a time and keep adding to the wall until you hit an intersection point. This makes the wall much easier to lift and attach to the ceiling.
Leave some space
Give yourself at least 1 1/2 to 3 inches of space between the bottom plate attached to the floor and the bottom plate on your wall assembly. This gap allows room for any unevenness in the floor and makes it easier to get your level in place.
Calculate Stud Length
Measure from the top of the bottom (Treated Lumber) plate to the bottom of the top plate and subtract 4 1/2 inches. This will give you your stud length. The extra length accounts for the top and bottom plates.
By taking the time to measure and mark your wall studs carefully, you’ll have a perfectly spaced frame ready for the next steps. The key is to go slowly, double-check your work, and leave a little wiggle room in case of any imperfections in the floor or ceiling. Your patience will pay off with a floating wall that looks professionally done.
Raising the wall into place
Time to Raise the Wall
Now that your top plate is secured in place, it’s time to lift your wall up and connect it. For safety, you’ll want at least two people for this part of the job.
Drive screws halfway into the studs of one wall section before lifting. This allows you to align and secure the wall in place once lifted without struggling to drive in screws.
Lift one end of the wall up and slide it under the top plate you installed in the previous step. Have someone support the other end while you drive in the screws to secure that side.
Use hand clamps, bar clamps, or ratchet straps to align and connect the two wall sections at the top. This makes it much easier to maneuver the wall into the exact position needed. Secure the walls together with screws once aligned.
Repeat the same clamping and securing process for the bottom wall plate. Double-check that the wall is level vertically and horizontally before driving in the remaining screws.
Drive screws into each stud, securing the wall to the top and bottom plates. For extra stability, you can also drive screws at an angle through the wall plates into the wall studs.
Remove the clamps, and you now have a floating wall securely in place! Repeat the same steps for any remaining wall sections.
Since you already aligned the bottom and top plates, there is no need to relevel again. Consider using a level, laser level, or plumb bob to ensure each section is perfectly vertical before securing it. A little extra time measuring and aligning will result in seamless results.
Nail into Bottom (Treated Lumber) Plate. Use Smooth Shank Landscaping spikes. These will be long enough to go from the Bottom of wall plate to botttom plate (treated lumber plate). Dril a hole though the Wall Plate the same diameter as the Spike, the same size not larger or the wall will wobble, then take a hummer placing the Spike to the hole, spike should not easily go through and tap the spike through and Hammer it home once you get to the Bootm Plate until you hit concrete. You’ll know.
By taking it slowly and carefully aligning each section, you’ll have a floating wall mounted securely and ready for the finishing touches in no time. Double-check all screws are driven in tightly, as a floating wall has extra weight to support. But with a little patience, you’ll enjoy your new open space in no time!
And there you have it; you know how to frame a floating wall yourself. Once you get started, you’ll find it’s not nearly as complicated as it seems. Take it slow, double-check your measurements, and don’t forget to step back regularly to ensure everything looks level. Before you know it, you’ll be admiring your DIY floating wall and thinking about other projects you can tackle. Home improvement is addictive but also rewarding. Not to mention, your friends and family will be seriously impressed when they see what you’ve accomplished. Nice work! Now get out there and start floating some walls. You’ve got this.