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framing a long wall

Tom_Letkewicz's picture

I plan to frame a wall that is about 58ft in length. Our code requires a stud under the break in the top plate. It also requires the double top plate to overlap the top plate joints by a minimum of 4ft. Because of limited man power I cannot raise the entire wall at once. Therefore I must raise the wall in sections. There are several partitions that will intersect this wall. The problem I see is how best to section the wall and satisfy the code requirements. Should I carefully plan out the sections before building or can I build the entire wall as one and use a saw and cut the bottom plate where the top plate breaks?

(post #159939, reply #1 of 26)

If you're building this alone, have you considered just framing it up in the air and sheathing it after it's up. I've done so much of that working alone that it feels really natural to me.


(post #159939, reply #2 of 26)

You could build the wall in sections, nailing your 2nd top plate after putting up the wall, splitting the end stud between the bottom and top plate.
JMHO, Roger

(post #159939, reply #3 of 26)

I agree with Rodger .
I'd try to frame it in 10' sections.Then sheath it.

(post #159939, reply #4 of 26)

Framing a long wall with sheathing on, and windows in isn't all that difficult. Lay out bottom and top plates in pairs, so they break in the middle of partitions. (Remember, you don't even have to break the double plate at the partitions. Even the intersection of a shear wall doesn't require an overlap of top plate. Five sinkers through the last five and a half inches of a plate are meaningless, when it comes to holding the walls together)..they do help with plumb and line, though.

Enough of that. Without breaking the double plate at partitions, you can see how much easier your sectioning will be. Or, go ahead and carefully place your plates between the partitions, and cut the double plate later for the ears. The technique won't change, you just have more flexibility in your long wall standing if you can stop thinking of partiton intersections as a necessary double plate break. I digress again... Pick a comfortable size section for your crew size. Put two studs at the panel edges under the plate break. You can get legitamate edge nailing for both panels this way. Frame them into the wall with about a 1/4" gap between them. This will prevent them from binding when the sections are stood. Nail them together after standing the wall.

When double plating, run your four foot minimum over-laps, starting at one end, like this: First double plate goes on either 5 1/2" or 3 1/2" from the end of the wall, or 4' from the end of the wall. You'll know which one it is. Run this plate line a minimum of four feet past the break . Nail off per detail, leave the four foot over-lap un-nailed. Begin again, and continue, overlapping four feet minimum over the breaks, without nailing the overlap down. What you're doing is determining the sequence of wall section standing. All the un-nailed ears should be on either the right, or left side of the sections. You'll begin standing the sections in the reverse order of your double-plating sequence.

The ply is nailed off, leaving the over-laps un-nailed. Mark them well with a crayon, so when you get to that portion of the ply panel, you don't nail it off. You can drop the nailing down to the top plate for that four feet, if you like. I usually leave it un-nailed, and nail it off later, from a ladder. The last section to receive double plating goes up first, taking its end stud with full edge nailing, and leaving the
over-lap that will sit on it, on the ground. The next panel goes up, with full edge nailing on each end. One end, adjacent to the section you just stood will have an over-lap that usually needs to be prodded up and over the top plate of the wall just stood, and the other end will have ply at the edge, and a space on top for the next ear, which is left on the ground.

Hope I wasn't too redundant. We've stood much longer than 58' sections this way, probably closer to 158' sections, and you need to figure it out if your five stories up. It'll be a long, long time before the scaffold is up there. Hopefully your well into the next project by then.

A comment about the pair of studs at the ends of your sections. You may want to verify the nailing schedule to make these members joined together. If it was a serious shear wall, with a 3" nailing panel at the ply edges, I would verify with the structural engineer the type of stud (doug fir, hem fir) and the pattern to successfully make these two studs one. At the least, I'd give them a six inch stagger.

One other comment. The longer the wall, the greater the chance for irregularities in floor level to begin adding up and becoming a bother. If the floor isn't level, stand this thing without ply if you can. If you're standing shear panels on an out of level floor, getting them tight together at the top or bottom can become impossible without butchering the end studs and cutting ply. Pre-fab wall sections are often butchered in as a result of this...

and, the ends of the walls and all the openings will be automatically out of plumb if the floor is whacked.

luck, brace well.

(post #159939, reply #5 of 26)

tom... one pair of proctor wall jacks would allow you to easily and safely raise a 58' wall... fully, trim & sided......

about $600 .....

if i were working alone again... or even with just a helper... i'd have another pair... sold mine to a guy moving to Colorado so he could build his house by himself...

(post #159939, reply #6 of 26)

I built a lot of walls myself. I just put them together in sections, sheet what I can, leaving the top plate off like the guy said until I raise and brace. Toenail the bottom to the floor a couple times so the wall don't slide off while you're lifting it.

(post #159939, reply #7 of 26)

Tom, you've already got good advice. Ill add my experiences.

I'd use Mikes method if I had to install siding. If it is a brick, or vinyl siding, then I'd split the wall into managable sections.

I've done it many ways but this is one of the most common. I'd lay out the entire wall. If I have a guy helping me raise it, I'd split the wall into 19 sections. If I'm alone, without jacks, I'd probably do 8' sections.

I probably wouldn't place a stud under the splits. Instead I'd put an extra stud at each end. This satifies the inspector and also allows me to do all the sheathing nailing without ladders.

I might be inclined to leave the double top plate off, if I was doing 8' sections. After standing, I'd put 16' top plates on it.

I've hung the plates over 4' like Nathan. I've stood the entire wall with jacks like Mike said. It's six of one, half dozen of the other unless there is siding involved.


(post #159939, reply #8 of 26)

58' is more of a 3 jack operation, in my world anyway.

(post #159939, reply #9 of 26)

Mike, 58' is an awful long wall especially if you added the weight of siding, windows and overhangs.

I'd probably be thinking three jacks myself. If I was forced to do it, I could do it with less, but it would involve multiple moves of the jacks.

Usually on "too long" walls, we leave one side drooping and use manpower to get it up.

Good point.


(post #159939, reply #10 of 26)

On a side note, I helped raise a wall that was just a little too big for the three of us to manage by hand.

This guy comes up with a great idea. Since we were on the third story, we had an interesting cantilver option. We nailed a series of 18' 2x12 flat to the wall, with as much projecting past the bottom of the wall as we could. We used 6 or 7 I think.

The extra leverage provided by the cantilevers allowed us to raise it and keep going.

(post #159939, reply #11 of 26)

Nathan, I dreamed up that idea myself but never tried it. It always just seemed simpler to hook the jacks up.

I do like the idea however.

In my younger bull days, we'd often raise walls too heavy, without jacks. To get the job done, we'd all lift one end and prop it on a brace. Then, we'd go lift the other end. Back and forth we'd go until it was almost straight up, then presto, we'd push her the rest of the way.

Not any more....

(post #159939, reply #12 of 26)

Thanks for the great advice. But my big problem is that with the code restriction of a four foot overlap of the double top plate I am having trouble figuring out where to section the wall. The wall has three partition walls that by our code must have a double top plate that overlaps the exterior wall. Also the wall has two windows and two 6ft sliding doors. I'm finding it very difficult to satisfy the code and section the wall. Can you break the top plate over windows and doors?

(post #159939, reply #13 of 26)

Tom, should be able to over windows (dont break at top plate or end of header), do you not layout your walls on the sub-floor first?

(post #159939, reply #14 of 26)

I will layout the wall on the subfloor first. The wall is as follows: 13'-4 form corner to first partition(includes window), 13'-6 to next partition(includes 6' sliding door), 13'-6 to next partition (includes 6' sliding door), finally 13'-4 to corner(includes window). By code, my partitions must have double plate overlap exterior wall and double plate must overlap any top plate breaks by 4ft. The problem I have is where to break the wall into sections to satisfy the code. I don't know if that made sense.

(post #159939, reply #15 of 26)

Tom, the idiotic code is not always possible to follow, especially if you have many partitions. I don't cut out any top plates for overlapping. I don't like how it weakens the wall. The continuous double top plate is significantly stronger than having one with the second plate all chopped up.

I do lap the 2x6 backing plate however and I can prove that my method is stronger in all regards than the code.


(post #159939, reply #16 of 26)

CS strap the partitions to the exterior. Inspectors love strapping. Be sure to point out the "positive connection" you just made. They love that term.

(post #159939, reply #17 of 26)

Not me Nathan. The overlapped 2x6 is plenty enough strength to hold some 2' interior partition from falling off the wall.

The need for holding the walls together is a throwback to the days of conventional rafters. The rafters tended to sag and push the wall apart. With the trusses of today, the walls are held quite nicely from spreading by the bottom chord. There isn't any outward pressure on the walls and the need for excessive holding power is just another example of useless overbuilding. I draw the line at overbuiding when it actually weakens the structure.

I know for a fact that my lapped backing 2x6 will hold together better than your typical lapped top plate. I'm willing to bet all my milkbones on that fact and can easily develope a test with a hydraulic jack to prove it.

Wanna lay some mildbones on it?



(post #159939, reply #18 of 26)

expound on "lapped backing", never heard of it.

I too think things are out of hand. I just don't have the decades of experience to make the call in front of an inspector. So I give them what they want to see, which is all the hardware installed correctly, and more where I think it could use it in a worse possible scenario (magnituted 8.0)

I don't think CS strapping partitions to exteriors is necessary, either. But, my point stands. Break the code on the top plating, ammend yourself with metal.

(post #159939, reply #19 of 26)

Nathan, the backing is sometimes called deadwood. It is usually a 2x6 that is placed on top of the partitions and hangs over both sides to catch the ceiling drywall.


(post #159939, reply #20 of 26)

right, I do this all the time when backing out after joist. It becomes a third plate to tie the intersections together. I never thought of it functioning like that. I also like to face nail joist into these backers when possible. Positively connected, I say...

(post #159939, reply #21 of 26)

Nathan, many, many, most, carpenters and builders never fully look at, and analzye every part of the building, and techniques that they are using. Your comment "...I never thought of it functioning like that...." is quite common in many facets of the building process. Instead of thinking, and building in a logical manner, we often tend to "do it like I was taught". We tend to criticize others if they do it somewhat different, although often the "new" way is superior.

Look at the properties of the typical lapped connection and compare it to the method that I use. The cutting of the top plates, in the middle of long exterior walls significantly weakens the wall. The lappping of the connecting partitions is strong, but there really aren't any forces attempting to seperate them. My method leaves the integrity of the double topped plate intact. The lapping of the third member provides the unnecessary holding strength and should satisfy all logical inspectors.

Unfortunatly, all inspectors don't emply logic.


(post #159939, reply #22 of 26)

I do it like you, Blue. I know its the best way. I think its still the best way even with a stick roof. What kind of sheer strength does a 4 foot partition wall have? Why rely on the strength of ANY interior wall that uses sheetrock for sheer strength? Its not built for that. Ceiling joists or trusses keep the outside walls from spreading.

(post #159939, reply #23 of 26)

I agree Thomas, even in stick built roofs. It is absurd to think that whacking the plates strengthens a wall.

The spreading issue is solved with the third lapped plate even in the conventionally framed roofs. There is no spreading issue on trussed construction. Incredibally, some inspectors won't allow this technique.


(post #159939, reply #24 of 26)


I understand what you are saying with using your DW backing to tie walls together. However, the double top plate is not necessarily for lateral strength, keeping the top of the wall rigid. It's primary purpose is to carry the weight applied between the studs. My code says I can omit the (very) top plate if my floor/roof members fall directly on my wall studs. Double plating just allows you to place these members anywhere you like.

The idea of the interior walls holding the house together isn't really proper. Alternative construction techniques can be used to solve this problem. Drywall is not structural (contrary to what some drywallers believe). If it needs to be, the framer didn't do his job very well, regardless of what the inspector will allow to pass.

I do agree that we need to understand why we build the way we do. Too many people just "do" because that's how everyone else does it, and don't really know why.

P.S. - if I did omit my top plate, I would have to tie the joints together with metal strapping

(post #159939, reply #25 of 26)

Mike, I also understand, and agree that only one plate is necessary. Just try explaining that to the robots, err, I mean inspectors.

Strapping the walls underneath the backing is just another layer of ridiculousness. But if ya' gotta do it...


(post #159939, reply #26 of 26)

I plan to frame a wall that is about 58ft in length. Our code requires a stud under the break in the top plate. It also requires the double top plate to overlap the top plate joints by a minimum of 4ft. Because of limited man power I cannot raise the entire wall at once. Therefore I must raise the wall in sections. There are several partitions that will intersect this wall. The problem I see is how best to section the wall and satisfy the code requirements. Should I carefully plan out the sections before building or can I build the entire wall as one and use a saw and cut the bottom plate where the top plate breaks?