The first time I pulled out the measuring tape and started marking out studs was a great feeling, and I hope you’ll feel the same way.
After reading this post you may have questions, do yourself a favor and join my free Framing Forum.
That being said, I had to take a different approach as I was required to build floating walls in my basement. I chose to build my first wall in a simple spot with no windows, no soffits, and the shortest length wall in my basement. Once you’ve finished off the first wall measure out your basement and place an order for the lumber to be delivered to your house. The only downside to the cheaper gun I purchased was that it couldn’t handle a powerful load, meaning I had to purchase two different strengths of powder loads. Something I would highly recommend is purchasing construction-strength adhesive and running thick beads underneath this pressure-treated plate before shooting your nails in.
You should have your length from the length of your pressure treated plate so cut two more plates the same length, a top and bottom plate for your first wall.
At this point the next step depends on what framing method you’re using to build your wall. Nail your bottom plate to the pressure treated plate and you are ready to measure and cut your studs.
Before measuring your studs and cutting, I recommend going along the entire wall and measuring from the pressure treated plate up to the ceiling joists.
Layout your wall on the floor, line up your studs with the X’s you marked out earlier and nail your studs in from the top and bottom of your plates.
I have friends and colleagues who finished their basements and had to repair slight heaving in their basement slab because of the soil expanding. If your ceiling is high enough, I highly recommend using my method of nailing an extra plate to either the top of your pressure treated plate or even one up on your ceiling joists to get your floating gap to 3″ or less with a standard sized stud in order to avoid having to measure and cut any of your studs.
A lot of money was wasted on that lumber, and although I may have firewood for the next three years I’m not down with that experience. Best of luck on framing your basement walls and please feel free to comment on your framing experiences or questions below!
Hey Jason, I’ll be updating the entire website here shortly as I just passed final inspection. When all is said and done, I believe that a wall that is slightly off will not make any difference to your finished product. One of the drawbacks of finishing your own basement is that you will know every single spot where you feel like you messed up or made a mistake. Lastly, though this is highly subjective if you were to do it again would you have paid someone, or was it doable enought to offset the price differential of hiring a contracter? For the vent everything was already in place and vented properly, so I didn’t have to do any work in that department. This method is a little different because instead of using the pressure treated plate as the bottom plate of your wall, I’m recommending shooting the pressure treated plate into the ground first. If you use this method you must use the shortest measurement from your pressure treated plate to the ceiling joist.
As for the pocket wall in a floating wall, I might suggest trying to put your float at the top of the wall instead of the bottom. Do you frame against the blocks or should there be an airspace between the block and frame? I really haven’t seen any cases where they have airspace between the block and the frame. Let me know if this forum helps you out or not, and if it doesn’t let me know and I’ll try to do a little more research! Hopefully that helps and please get back to me with any other questions you come up with during your basement finish! With the floating wall, how much gap did you leave between the floor and the bottom of your drywall?
Ask away with any other questions you’ve got and best of luck with your basement finish!
Below are images of the selected job - Floating Wall AV Install & Feature Lighting - simply click the images to view larger versions. Here in Colorado, if you want to finish your basement, you have to construct floating walls. Toe-nail 2×4 studs to the ceiling header board and to the top base plate every 16 inches on center. To our friends and family who came and helped on on many endless weekends especially when we had no heat in the winter months… you know who you are… Elijah (who came practically every weekend for two months straight and helping to move us! Built a floating wall to be moveable for the front window and partitions…who knew proportions are so difficult took us two builds before it was perfect.
More of that darn pink stuff–insulation, insulation and sealing it all up neat and tidy! As a result I had no choice and built my floating walls on the floor and lifted them in to place.
I recommend doing the same, just to make it easy on yourself and build your confidence when it comes to some of the trickier wall placements. A heck of a lot easier than making constant runs to pick it up yourself and you’ll save yourself a ton of time. I purchased a Ramset .22 Powder Actuated gun for about $90 from Home Depot and I can honestly say it was one of my favorite purchases of my entire basement finishing project. In my research on this gun a lot of people said they had to take two shots to fully seat each nail in the pressure treated plate, one 4-power and one 3-power load. I found that if I didn’t use the adhesive, the board would sometimes wiggle and not be completely secure after nailing.

Your pressure treated plate will act as your point of reference for translating a straight line up to your ceiling joists for nailing in your top plate. Climb a ladder and once the level is straight up and down, mark a line on your ceiling joist using your board as your guide. Then nail them in lined up with the X’s you marked out earlier and you’ve got yourself a wall! Do this in a few areas and take your smallest measurement, subtract 3″ for your top and bottom plate, then cut all of your studs to this length. When you’re done, lift up your wall and then set it up on your pressure-treated plate. Because of expansive soil in Colorado, commonly called Bentonite, we are forced by code to build floating walls. From our inspector I heard a story of landscaping done incorrectly and as a result the water drained under the house. I chose to use an extra plate on top of my pressure treated plate so that I could accommodate a standard 96″ sized stud without having to cut my studs.
I wouldn’t recommend using a much bigger drill bit because then your wall can wobble a bit.
Floating basement walls can seem daunting at first but by using this method you’ll always ensure a floating wall that is flush, solid, and ready for the kids to abuse. Undoing those straps and transporting them to your basement means they are now subject to the climate changes in your basement.
I get the whole 3-4-5 method and I’ve got three intersecting 90 degree lines (picture large c shape but with right angles) and using a laser level I see that one leg if continued down the 47 foot wall moves from 6 inches from wall to 18 inches at other end. If you’ve done the best you can to get your corners at 90 degree angles, stick with your closest measurements and move on to the next phase. If you use your longest measurement your wall will not fit in those areas with smaller measurements.
You may be correct in that if your measurements from your pressure treated plate to the ceiling joist vary by a lot, you may still need a shim in some areas. Yes I can definitely get you some instructions on door hanging, stay tuned and I’ll update you with some instructions. It probably wouldn’t make sense to do this in your entire basement, but this might be a solution just for that specific area. Let me know what you decide to do and I’ll be in touch with a door hanging walkthrough! I think we decided to go with a smaller sink vanity so we can use a normal door, just to keep it simple. Yes I love the cabinet media bay, it’s really nice to have everything together in one place.
Remember the wall is still anchored to the ceiling joists, so you’re not losing any strength when you build a floating wall. I had blanket insulation already installed in my basement and thankfully in most cases the framing compressed the blanket insulation just enough that there was no space between the wall and insulation to require fire blocking.
The goal of fire blocking is to block any air flow and make it more difficult for the fire to travel upwards. You may have already finished, but to answer your question you’re exactly right, I would give it an inch or two.
I have a question on how tight the studs to be fit between top and bottom plate in case of wall built in place?
Nail in a 2×4 header across the ceiling joist directly above the base plates and spacers below.
Then drive a big 60d nail through the pilot hole, through the top base plate, and all the way through the bottom base plate until you hit concrete. The toughest part is just making sure you have the bottom base plate directly under the top base plate, and making sure the stud is vertically level so your wall is level. Just make sure there is enough space between the bottom of the door, the door jamb, and the flooring you put down to accommodate any heaving that may occur.
The only reason the building authority makes us build floating walls is to safeguard that the house won’t be lifted off its foundation should the floor heave a considerable amount. Please continue to scroll down through the past weeks for more dramatic before and after shots. We wanted to hold off as long as we could just focusing and working on the projects at hand, framing, insulating and later making desk from the left over scrap wood.
It took me at least a few weeks before I mustered up the courage to get started, but there was no need for a delay. I’m not sure I saved a lot of money doing it this way, but I did save a lot of time, and to me saving my personal time is a lot like saving money. This seemed to be the result of the concrete breaking and cracking instead of allowing the nail to go in cleanly. I then hooked my tape measure on this nail, ran the tape measure down to the end of the plates, and then made marks every 16″ from the nail.
Do this a couple times along the length of the wall and you’re ready to nail your top plate in! By doing it this way you are avoiding having to place shims in between your top plate and the ceiling joists. This caused the soil to expand and ended up cracking a granite countertop in the kitchen and breaking pipes because it lifted the foundation that much. I was pretty upset when I learned I would have to build my basement walls this way, I had major concerns about strength and rigidity, but in hindsight it really wasn’t that bad and ended up being kind of fun towards the end when I had the process down. I actually had to hammer hard to get them in and when I was done the wall was as solid as could be. In a couple weeks when I was finally ready to start using this lumber, it was warped to the point they were completely unusable.

When you order it, get your framing done ASAP, and if you need to leave your lumber unattended for a long period of time do your best to stack it neatly in larger piles and even strap it together if you can. In the case of standing water in the basement, the pressure treated plate won’t allow water to seep in and rot the wood. In conjunction with the PEX I used SharkBite fittings which I would highly recommend, saves a bunch of time and you avoid soldering if you have to tap into your existing copper pipes. The cost savings were well worth it, probably in the range of $20,000 – $35,000 was saved. I’ve seen a few pictures online of leaving a gap around the sides and on top, with pieces of rigid foam on the sides. I did leave a gap around the sides and top but did not use rigid foam, instead I used shims and nailed through the door frame and shims into the framing. In those cases where there was enough of a gap, I just threw up some 2X4’s cut to size. Did you place the pressure treated base piece back from the wall at all to accommodate for the insulation?
I was so concerned during the framing stage with everything being absolutely perfect, but remember it’s all going to be covered up by the drywall anyways! It’s possible to get this all done by manual hammering, but I would highly recommend a framing nailer. When you build the walls, because you’re not anchoring to the ceiling joists or I-beams, how are you planning on anchoring the top of your walls? Attach it to the concrete floor using liquid nails (or some equivalent industrial strength adhesive) and concrete nails.
Make sure it’s directly above the base plates so your wall will be vertical and not leaning. Make sure you get long enough nails such that there nail head is about an inch above the top base plate.
The picture to the left shows what my pre-hung door looked like when first hung (don’t do this). You’ll see many DYI projects that were always checked with our general contractor Lewitt Construction with Ed and his team who came to the rescue after construction costs were increasing and made sure everything was done right! But drywall proved to be too difficult to do on our own so we needed to wait until friends were available to help.
I chose to go 16″ on center with all my walls, a few exceptions being some shorter walls surrounding my mechanical room.
Basically you choose one of your straightest studs, cut it exactly to the height of your basement ceiling joists, and tape a larger level on one of the sides.
Thankfully the area I live wasn’t subject to much expanding, but I know areas that are terrible and builders have gone bankrupt because the soil in some areas expanded so much and they had to spend millions of dollars redoing foundations the correct way. Even though it cost me a bit of money to add an extra plate, I figured the time I would save by not having to measure and cut every wall stud would be well worth it in the end, and it was!! Frantically I called the lumber company and they would not issue a refund because it had been a few weeks.
I have a few corners in my basement that are not exactly 90 degrees and you’d never be able to tell.
For a couple joints I had to use the metal clasp method which required a special tool for crimping the rings. Perhaps you could butt right up against the ceiling with your drywall, caulk it, and paint over it? The inspector didn’t seem overly concerned about fire blocking and the insulation helped in my case. So give it enough space that the wall with rest against the blanket insulation or slightly compress it once you hang it up. I did build a wall that is very tight fit and noticing some warp in wood after the framing. However, it will not lift the top base plate because the 2×4 studs running to the ceiling are holding the top base plate in place. It’s extremely unlikely the basement floor will heave that much, even in expansive soils. Ed was available at all times of the day even answer text in the evening when his portion of the project was complete.  Further Lewitt Construction was still available and always in touch. I would remember this by placing an X on the inside of the mark, or on the side that I hammered the finishing nail.
If so, I would recommend the pressure pleated plate, but you’ll want to confirm this with an inspector. So think I am doing something wrong here and wanted to correct this before other walls are framed.
If the floor where to heave even a little, it would push up on the door jamb causing issues. Imagine your concrete floor rising two inches, then also lifting the first floor of your house along with it.
When you’ve made all your marks, use a square of some kind to go down your plates and make a line down both plates at each mark, remembering to put your X on both plates as well. I had no experience whatsoever with PEX piping and everything went fine, I wouldn’t be too worried if I were you.

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