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How to Frame a Basement Wall That Floats

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Framed Floating Basement Wall Example


How to Frame a Basement by Yourself

I have framed many basements in my day and I always frame them myself. I am going to tell you how to frame your basement walls in a way that you will be able to float the walls by yourself.

Now some sections of walls that are really long you might need help just lifting the wall after framing it on the floor but mostly you should be able to frame lift and float the walls all by yourself.

Since you are framing your walls yourself I will assume you have general knowledge and knowhow for framing walls. If you are nailing your plates and studs or using an air-nailer it doesn’t matter you can use my method with both nailing methods.

Floating basement walls is always a good idea in case your floor heaves and shifts. When you float the wall and your basement floor shifts chances are you won’t get cracks in your walls.

Framing and Floating Basment Walls

Floating your walls means either the top or bottom plate will be floating only using spikes to connect your wall to a 2nd wall plate. I float my walls at the floor. Let’s get started. So you have all your lumber on site right? Ok good.

  • A couple of things to consider before you start framing. If you are going to have a plumbing stack in the basement make sure you frame that wall with 2” by 6” lumber, the rest should be 2” by 4”.
  • Make sure you know what size doors you will be installing so you can frame the rough openings accordingly.
  • When framing outer walls around windows make sure to allow enough around the window to allow for the finished product for instance I build 5/8” boxes that butt up to the window and are flush with the face of the drywall, so I have to allow for that 5/8” all the way around.

Example of a Floating Wall

Notice the bottom of the wall. It is floating. There is a plate secured to the concrete and then a plate floating an 1 1/2 above it.

Notice the bottom of the wall. It is floating. There is a plate secured to the concrete and then a plate floating an 1 1/2 above it.

The Tip Regarding Floating Walls Easily

In my neck of the woods the outer wall studs are spaced 24” on center and the inner walls are 16” on center meaning the center of each stud is approximately either 24” or 16”.

  • To float your walls at the floor you will have to put down a 2 * 4 plate on the floor securing it, I still use cement nails because I like pounding them into the concrete myself. UPDATE I now prefer using a Ramset for securing the bottom plate to the floor however using concrete nails is still okay.
  • The trick to floating walls by yourself is to measure from the top of the plate you just laid on the floor to the underside of the joist and deduct 1 1/2”.
  • The 1 1/2” will be the space between the bottom plate on the floor already and the underside of the plate on the bottom of the wall you frame.
  • The easy way to hang the wall yourself is to put a couple of small pieces of 2” by 4” on top of the plate already secured to the floor and lift your framed wall and set it on top of those pieces.

Now That You Have Framed & Floated the Wall

It might be a bit tight and you might have to hammer the wall around a bit to get it where you want it but that is all there is too it.

  • Now get your wall squared up at the top and bottom and nail the top of the wall to your joists and drill some holes in the bottom plate of your wall just snug enough so the spikes fit through with just tapping them lightly through the bottom wall plate into the plate that was secured right to the floor.
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  • Make sure your spikes are long enough that they are still sticking out from your top plate. I use 5” or 6” spikes.
  • Now you can take out the two small pieces of lumber and you know have a wall floating from the floor and you did it by yourself. It’s that easy.


Grant Handford (author) from Canada on October 18, 2011:

Where I live it is code to have the gap on the bottom of the wall.

Thanks for commenting toronto kitchens.

toronto kitchen renovations on October 18, 2011:

I actually like the idea of the gap being at the top, because then the weight of the wall won't be hanging from the ceiling. Seems to make sense to have it rest on the floor; I think this is the way I'll do it, assuming I'm allowed to.

Grant Handford (author) from Canada on September 11, 2011:

Builder thanks for your comments. You obviously know your codes.



Builder on September 11, 2011:

I strongly agree with Grant's world. It is a code requirement to frame floating floors in basements with these conditions. I strongly urge energyguild to take an ICC building test to freshen up basic carpentry skills. Good job explaining Grant's world.

Grant Handford (author) from Canada on January 02, 2011:

energyguild in your part of the world that way of framing might be valid if you have no ground shifting and heaving.

When the ground you build on is mostly clay and tends to heave quit often framing the way you are suggesting would only cause cracking in the walls.

Thanks for your comment though.

energyguild on January 01, 2011:

While some of the information that you provide is valid, framing a wall in a basement should not be performed this way. Securing the top and bottom plates to the floor and ceiling and adding the wall studs afterwards is the tried and true method to basement wall framing or framing anything in an existing structure for that matter. I would strongly urge you not not frame walls in the matter described in your article anymore.

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