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How to Put Up Cheap Temporary Walls in the Garage

Wade Shaddy
Table of Contents

Learn how to build an affordable, movable garage wall, with options for cost, materials and techniques.

It's not uncommon to use a garage as a hobby room, for ceramics, painting, woodworking or crafts. Dividing it up only makes sense. The integrity of the divider or wall can vary from substantial to trivial, depending on materials and techniques, and you don't need to spend a ton of money.

Substantial Options

Make an affordable, but substantial, wall using studs. Not the wood kind -- which are hard to take apart -- but light-gauge metal studs. They're straighter, lighter, and fit together like an erector set. Add some rigid foam insulation, and you've got a wall similar to the non-load bearing walls in your home -- and it's removable.

    Place the Vertical Sides

  1. Measure and cut two metal studs with tin snips, to the desired height of the wall. Screw them to wall studs with a drill/driver and 1 1/2-inch self-drilling drywall screws, or use drywall anchors, to fasten one vertically at each terminating point on the existing, left and right walls of the garage.

  2. Install the Track

  3. Measure and use tin snips to cut H-channel to fit horizontally across the floor and ceiling. H-channel is the track for the vertical studs. Screw the H-channel horizontally across the ceiling using a drill/driver and 1 1/2-inch self-drilling screws. Use construction adhesive to attach the track to the floor.

  4. Place Studs in the Track

  5. Measure and cut the studs -- if needed. If you're building an 8-foot-tall wall, you don't need to cut them. Fit the vertical studs into the tracks every 16-inches -- or 24 inches for a less substantial wall. Screw the vertical studs to the track using 1 1/2-inch self-tapping screws.

  6. Tip

    Use clamps to hold the vertical studs to the track while you screw them on.

    Glue The Foam

  7. Apply construction adhesive to face of the vertical studs, and horizontal track. Press 4-by-8-foot rigid foam sheets into the adhesive, fitting and gluing them onto the wall studs, one by one. Use duct tape to seal the joints.

Another Stout Version

Another cheap wall can be made with wood partitions. It doesn't have the insulating qualities of a rigid foam wall, but it looks like wood, and it's sturdy enough. Make the individual partitions 4 by 8 feet, so they fit a standard piece of 1/4-inch plywood.

    Cut the Frame

  1. Measure and use a miter saw to cut 1-by-4-inch pine for a light-duty wall. Use two-by-fours, made with fir, for a more heavy-duty wall.

  2. Cut a Channel

  3. Install a 1/4-inch dado blade on a table saw. Set the depth to 3/4-inch for 1-by-4-inch pine, or 1/2-inch for two-by-fours. Cut a 1/4-inch dado or channel down the center of each piece, laying flat on the saw.

  4. Assemble the Frame

  5. Fit the four pieces of pine or fir around the 1/4-inch fir plywood, inserting the edge of the plywood into the channel. Apply glue to the joints, and screw the corners together with a drill/driver, and 3-inch screws.

  6. Tip

    Don't apply glue to the channels, the panels should be able to float somewhat, to prevent cracking and splitting. Add glue to the joints only.

    Build More Panels

  7. Build additional panels as needed. Trim one down before building it, as needed if the spacing doesn't work out right.

  8. Build the Wall

  9. Build the wall with options. Assemble them side by side with hinges, or screw them together. Screw or fasten them to the ceiling with screws or drywall inserts. Use construction adhesive on the horizontal floor members, or leave it off for a hinged wall.

Metal Wall Versus Wood Wall Cost

Metal Studs With Foam Wall

Prices for building materials can vary wildly, but at the time of publication, a 4-by 8-foot section of metal stud framing averages about $25. A single sheet of 3/4-inch-thick, 4-by-8-foot rigid foam averages about $10. If you use foam on both sides, the cost of a 4-by-8-foot metal stud wall, including hardware, averages about $50.

Wood Studs with Plywood Wall

A 4-by-8-foot section of wall built with wood studs and 1/4-inch fir plywood averages about $40 total.

Recycled Doors

Recycled or cast-off hollow-core doors can be assembled to build a temporary wall; bi-folds also work. Screw them together with hinges on both sides for a wall that can bend at the hinges to form V-shapes, similar to a screen divider. The zig-zag pattern is more stable than a straight line.

Tarps and Curtains

If you need a temporary barrier to keep out dust -- during painting, for example -- run stiff wire across the ceiling. Drape carpet, tarps, thick plastic or fabric over the wire. Use pulleys if desired, so you can raise or lower it as needed. Use hook-and-loop fasteners for openings, or to secure pieces together.


Lots of cheaper materials are flammable. Adding a room may also invalidate your insurance or local building code if proper exits are not observed.

Floor Material

Use thick foam, the kind they use for exercise equipment that looks like big puzzles, to pad the floor.


Oily, stained garage floors in a closed space can present respiratory risks as they off-gas oil, solvents, paint or whatever has been spilled on the floor.

Pallets are Everywhere

Pallet Wall Fastening, Top and Bottom

Use two-by-fours for the ledgers, or top and bottom horizontal members. Screw the top one on with screws and use construction adhesive at the bottom. Stuff the pallets full of insulation if desired. Finish up by stapling cardboard, fabric, tarps, oriented-strand-board, or OSB, or 1/4-inch plywood to the sides for a tough, but removable wall.

Pallets are often free. They're used to build sheds and fences and can be used for walls as well. Pallets screw together nicely if deck boards are placed horizontally. This allows the skids or runners to fit flush against each other, where they can be fastened with bolts or screws.