Bar Scene I Art Print
27.5 in. x 27.5 in.
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Dealing with Walls
Many home improvement projects have an impact on the walls of the home, but many people have little idea as to what lies behind the plasterboard or siding. Walls have a very serious role to play in protecting your home and delivering structural integrity to the entire property, and it is essential you understand how they are constructed and how they work underneath their covering.
Conventional homes have an inner framework which may be structural, i.e. provide strength and integrity for the fabric of the structure, though it may be non-structural, i.e. does not bear any load or weight of the home. Irrespective of which type of wall it is, they will all need to be capable of supporting windows, doors and whatever wall coverings are placed over them.
This internal framework is usually constructed from wood (though some modern homes are constructed using metal), and it will also provide the space for housing electrical wiring, heat and air ducting, home insulation, pipe work and plumbing and any other hardware used by utilities. Typically, the wall is formed from studs, themselves being 2-x-4, or sometimes 2-x-6 lengths of milled lumber. The larger stud sizes provide for greater strength and cavity allocation for insulating the wall, and so these are typically found on the external side of the wall with smaller, 2-x-4′s on the inside.
The studs are usually spaced between 16 or 24 inches apart (measured from the center of the stud). It is not uncommon to find additional studs included to provide extra support or to provide extra surface for nailing sheathing or wall covering to, or indeed just for simple spacing needs as the entire jigsaw puzzle is put together.
Where windows are placed, there will be a “sill” constructed usually by laying two 2-x-4′s flat, along where the base of the window will lie. The top of window will butt up against a “header” which is usually a beam with “trimmer studs” at either end to provide additional support. Above the beam will be “cripple” studs which provide the rest of the wall structure above the window through to the ceiling level.
The very top of the stud work will have a “double top-plate” formed by using two 2-x-4′s, or sometimes 2-x-6′s flat across the top ends of the wall studs. This serves to lock the wall studs into position and provides additional rigidity and strength. The base of the stud work will have a 2-x-4 or 2-x-6 stud which then locks the studwork to the floor.
Sometimes you may hear that a wall is “load-bearing’, and these are external walls which carry the weight of the roof or upper floors down through to the home foundation. Interior walls can also be load-bearing when they are providing support to the horizontally laid joists (to stop them sagging in the middle) or when they are transferring load down to the foundations.
It is crucial you know whether a wall is load-bearing or not, because to remove a load-bearing wall is to remove the support for the weight above. You can usually see a wall is load-bearing because they have commonly have a perpendicular joist resting on top of them and the house foundations immediately beneath them.