How to Build a Bedroom Closet

Chris Deziel

Building a closet isn't the most challenging of home improvement projects, and even a novice handy person can do a knock-up job. It's a basic framing and drywall procedure, and you need only two walls -- a front wall and a side wall -- if you build the closet into a corner of the bedroom.

Before starting your closet, find out how much space you can spare.

Care is needed when framing the door opening, because by-pass or bifold doors won't operate properly if the studs and headers aren't straight. You shouldn't need a building permit, but you'll need an electrical permit if you install lights.

  1. Lay out the floor plan for the closet and measure its dimensions with a tape measure. Ideal reach-in closet dimensions are 6 to 8 feet wide and 24 to 30 inches deep. You may want to increase the depth if you're building on the top floor or in the attic and the wall slopes.

  2. Measure, mark and cut 2-by-4-inch lumber for the top and bottom plates of the front wall, using a circular saw. Measure the height of the ceiling, subtract 2 7/8 inches from that measurement, and mark and cut the ends studs for that wall to that length. This will make them slightly long.

  3. Set the bottom plate in position on the floor and have a helper hold the top plate in its approximate position. Wedge the end studs between the plates. If you've cut the studs long enough, the will stand on their own and support the top plate. Use a hammer and level to tap each stud into level, then secure the top and bottom plates with 3-inch screws. Drive the screws into ceiling rafters, not just the drywall. Drive the bottom screws into the subfloor. Don't drive any screws to the part of the bottom plate where you plan to put the door.

  4. Cut the rest of the studs and set them at a separation of 16 inches. Frame the door opening by setting two king studs with a separation of 5 inches greater than the door you plan to use. Screw a jack stud to the inside of each king stud that is 2 inches higher than the door, then rest a doubled 2-by-4-inch header on the jack studs and secure it with screws. Cut the bottom plate of the wall flush with the inside edges of the jack studs, using a hand saw, and remove that piece.

  5. Frame and erect the side walls of the closet in the same way you constructed the front wall. Make sure they are plumb and level, then screw them to the ceiling and floor, as well as to the front wall of the closet.

  6. Install the doorjamb, using cedar or plastic shims to make it level. Nail the jamb to the framing with 2--inch finish nails. The jamb should extend 1/2 inch past the front of the wall framing.

  7. Hang 1/2-inch drywall on the outside of the closet by screwing it to the studs with 1 1/4-inch drywall screws. The surface of the drywall should come flush with the outside edge of the doorjamb. If desired, install drywall on the inside of the closet in the same way. If you plan to install a light, run the wires for the light and install the switch and light fixture electrical box before hanging the drywall.

  8. Tape and finish the drywall with drywall tape and joint compound. After finishing and before painting, install the casing around the door opening and install the door.

  9. Prime the walls with PVA drywall primer, then paint them with two coats of latex paint. After the paint dries, install the light fixture -- if there is one -- as well as any shelves or rods you need inside the closet.

  10. Tip

    You can avoid electrical work and still have light in the closet by installing a battery-powered ceiling-mount LED fixture. Find the ceiling rafters by tapping on the ceiling or by using a stud finder.


    If you wire in a new light fixture, avoid using incandescent bulbs in the fixture. They are a fire hazard in an enclosed space like a closet.