How to build a temporary wall partition in an apartment using drywall

If you’ve had enough of how your place looks like or you might need a little space of your own, a great solution could be to build a temporary partition wall in your apartment.

I have a family and kids and I know how hard it can be at times to get in your little corner and be quiet, read a book or simply work from home.

Personally, I’ve built several temporary walls over the years in the apartments I lived as a tenant. These are a great solution for both, tenants and homeowners.

an image of a partition wall made with drywall in an apartment using insulation and metal studs

And that’s because, as the name suggests, “temporary” means that when I leave or when I stop living in the apartment as a tenant the owner or myself I can remove the partition wall “easily”.

Should you use drywall or plaster to build this partition? Well, here’s a super in-depth drywall versus plaster article, and what are the differences between the two. Great to know before starting this project!

So why wait to create a nice little space for yourself and your family? Let’s begin right now!

Tools & materials required to build a drywall partition

If you don’t know all the materials or tools that I’m mentioning below, just click on the name of the product. That will take you to Amazon and you’ll what tool or material I’m talking about. Plus you can check the price as well. Which is quite helpful to start budgeting!

Not all these tools are A MUST. But If you have them all you’ll be able to perform a better job then without them.

For finishing the wall

How to build a temporary interior wall in 7 steps

As I was saying, you won’t need all the tools but it’s better if you do. Like for example, a laser level. If you need one read this page about some of the best laser levels for framing. But if you don’t have one it’s cool as well.

You just need to make sure you draw perfectly straight lines for your new wall.

Here’s where you can learn more about framing using a laser level if you’re beginner!

Before you cut any of the vertical wall studs, determine where the wall will go and take precise measurements between the floor and ceiling. Check the measurements in different places as the floor and ceilings can be out of level.

It happens, especially in older homes.

Anyway, Let’s get into it.

Step 1: You need to seal those surfaces that the temporary wall will touch

It might sound like Chinese to you this part if you are a DIYer. But sealing is something we must do.

By applying the foam between our new wall and the existing wall, the seal will achieve two things:

  • The sill seal, also know as “sill-plate sealer”, provides the required pressure to protect the temporary wall anywhere you decide to position it.
  • And it gives additional protection against damage to the floor, ceiling, and walls. At the end of the day, if you’re building this temporary wall on a rental property, you want as little damage as possible to the property in case the homeowner decides to remove it after you leave.

STEP 2: Cut a pair of 2x4s to the size you want the partition wall to be

If you’re not in the trade, these two pieces of wood are called “the plates”. They will form the top and bottom margins of your new temporary wall.

STEP 3: Cut another pair of 2x4s that are 3 inches short of ceiling height

What you need to do next is to measure the height from the floor to the ceiling. Because that height may vary, it’s wise to measure twice: once for the left edge of the temporary wall, then again for the right edge.

Rest three inches from each measurement, then cut a 2×4 to correspond to each length. These will be the two studs at the end of your wall.

STEP 4: Place vertical studs between top and bottom plates of the wall

At this point, you should have your sill seal foam already applied on the floor. Place the bottom plate over the sill seal.

Now you should have someone o help you out with this next step.

With a sill seal between the board and the ceiling ask someone to hold the top plate for you in place as you wedge the end studs into place.

Important to remind you that the sill seal needs to go along the existing walls against which you’re installing the vertical studs. 

The sill seal is very important because it’s used to stop air infiltration between the top of a house foundation and the first piece of lumber installed on top of a foundation.

If you encounter a stubborn stud, just a hammer to nudge it in gently.

If your studs are too tall that’s alright. Just get your circular saw if you have one or a handsaw and trim it down to your need. If the opposite is true, and you studs a bit short you’ll have to use some of the wooden shims to try and close the gap.

STEP 5: Screw or nail the studs to the plates

I prefer screws. It’s easier to remove than nails. But it’s up to you. Both ways will do the job.

You could actually build your wall by what’s known as “friction fit” between your ceiling and the floor. But personally, having kids around running up and down hitting the wall all the time plus humidity and, other climate reasons make me not being a big fan of this procedure.

Instead, we can toenail the plates to the ceiling and the floor. If you don’t want to ruin your home or homeowner’s property make sure the nails don’t go through the finished flooring.

STEP 6: Add more studs and attach drywall panels to the new wall

Install all the studs that you have left.

How far apart are studs being installed?

Good question … the studs should be installed at intervals of 16 or 24 inches apart.

intervals of 16 or 24 inches

STEP 7: Add insulation to your new temporary partition

If you want to reduce the noise coming through your temporary wall you can add some sound-batt insulation. It won’t make it soundproof but definitely will help to reduce the noise.

And now you start to install the drywall sheets using special screws for drywall.

STEP 8: Finishing the wall: Joint, Sandpaper, Paint, Decorate

A wall built purely with drywall it’s not a very good looking wall to look at. So after you have

  • used the joint filler to join the drywall sheets
  • wait to dry and check if you need to apply again.
  • sandpaper
  • prime
  • paint
  • decorate

That’s all it is. I know it looks easy peasy lemon squeezy on paper (or on this website lol) but it could get messy when you actually start doing it.

Just one last thing I want to remind us that after you’ve built your new drywall partition. Use a stud finder when it comes to finding the studs to hang stuff on your walls. This will make sure you don’t drill into pipes, electrical cables, etc.

You might have a laser tool at hand. But if you don’t, you will want to have a laser level to hang your pictures and shelves nice and straight. (do it like the pros)

Read this little step by step guide on how to build a temporary wall and TAKE YOUR TIME!
Have fun with the project and I hope you’ll enjoy your new cool looking space!

Ninja Team Members Working On This Page

Adrian – Construction Professional

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, handyman … As a construction pro I love to get creative and see things done with my hands coming to life. Here I share with you some of the things I learn and hopefully you’ll get something out of it. Enjoy 🙂

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