How to Build a Dry Partition Wall in Your Home


For a lightweight non-loadbearing partition, cellular-core dry partitioning is easy to construct. Made from two sheets of plasterboard with a cardboard core, it makes a rigid wall when installed. The panels can be purchased from larger builders’ merchants but would probably need to be ordered. Tapered-edged panels for decorating and square-edged panels for plastering are available. The panels provide a reasonable level of sound insulation, but as air gaps can reduce their performance an acoustic sealant can be applied to all the jointing surfaces during erection.

Fixing the framing

The panels are fixed to a lightweight timber frame. Mark out the floor, walls and ceiling in the same way as for a stud partition. Nail to the floor a 50mm (2in) planed (PAR) softwood sill, which matches the thickness of the partitioning. Plane 18mm thick softwood ceiling and perimeter wall battens to make a snug fit in the gap between the plasterboard sheets. Remove the arris from the outside long edges of the battening and then nail or screw it to the wall. To locate the bottom of the partition cut a point on a 150mm (6in) length of the ceiling/wall batten and nail it to the sill with its square end against the wall batten. Use 50mm (2in) wall nails.

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Fixing the panels

Cut the panels to fit between the sill and the ceiling with a 3mm tolerance using a saw. Rip out the cardboard core with the claw of a hammer to the depth of the battens-about 18mm – along the top and two long edges. Also remove 150mm (6in) of the core from each end of the bottom edge. Use a wood chisel to trim away any lumps of glue.

Drive a 150mm (6in) length of battening into the core at the bottom of the partitioning. This plug is used to fix skirtings-add more approximately 400mm (1 ft 4in) apart. Mark the position of each on the surface of the partition for reference later.

Lift and locate the top of the first panel over the ceiling batten about 200mm (8in) from the wall. Swing the panel into the vertical position and locate it on the floor sill. Slide the panel carefully along the sill to locate over the locating block and wall batten. Cut an intermediate locating block 300mm (1 ft) long and taper each end. Tap half of its length into the bottom corner of the panel’s core and nail it to the sill.

Cut a length of square-section vertical joint batten to fit between the ceiling batten and intermediate block. Tap the batten half way into the edge of the panel. Skew-nail it at the top and bottom. Fix the boards to the framework with galvanized nails at 225mm (9in) centres.

Prepare the other panels and secure them in the same way. Butt the edges of the tapered panels, but leave a 3mm gap when they are square-edged.

Making a door opening

Mark the position of the doorway on the floor. Make allowances for the width of the door and door linings. Mark out the width of the panels, working from the opening to each wall. Fit the ceiling and wall battens. Cut the sill to stop at the opening and fix it to the floor. Fit the panels working from the wall towards the opening, starting with any cut panels. At the opening, remove the core from the vertical edges of the panels and insert vertical battens flush with the edges. Skew-nail them at top and bottom and fix the plasterboard with galvanized nails at 225mm (9in) intervals.

Measure and cut a panel to fit over the door opening. Nail a length of wall batten with one end tapered to the side of the vertical batten on each side of the opening. The battens should be about 75mm (3in) shorter than the depth of the cut panel: Ensure they are set true.

Clear the core from all round the panel, allowing enough room at the bottom to accommodate a length of joint battening. Slide the panel over the side battens and nail it in place with a 3mm gap at the top.

Fit the horizontal head batten into the core flush with the bottom edge and nail it to the vertical battens at each end, then nail the door linings to the stud framework.

If you fit a made-up door frame, treat it as a panel and build it in as the other partitions are erected. When assembling the partition, don’t forget to omit a section of the sill at the doorway.

Fitting a partition between walls

Working from one wall mark out the width of the full panels across the floor. Inevitably, you will have to cut the last panel to fit. Measure and cut it to the required width, less 6mm. Fix the framing to the floor, ceiling and both walls. Fit the bottom locating batten.

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Prepare and fit the cut panel at one end and then proceed from each end towards the centre. Clean out the core from the panels on each side of the opening to allow the jointing batten to be set in flush. Make three equally spaced wide saw cuts in the edge of the panels. Cut the vertical battens so that they fit loosely between the ceiling batten and sill. Set them flush into the prepared edges of the panel. Fit 50mm (2in) screws part way into the centre of the battens at each of the saw cuts. Lift the last panel into position, then tap the screws sideways to drive half the vertical batten into the edge of the last panel. Skew-nail the vertical batten to the top and bottom frames through the board. Fix the panels along the vertical edges.

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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