How to Turn a Full Wall Into a Half Wall

Naima Manal

When the design of an interior space calls for a more open floor plan, one method of transformation is to convert an existing full wall into a half wall.

A half wall can be made with a counter on top.

The benefit of keeping the integrity of the wall's delineation intact is that it will continue to serve as a room divider while also making the space feel more airy and larger than before. Before this conversion can take place, the wall must be inspected for its role in the overall structure and integrity of the house. Select a wall that is non-load bearing and without immovable electricity or plumbing.

  1. Mark a level line across the wall using the level and the pencil at the desired height of the half wall.

  2. Mark 3 inches down from this line; first measure 2 inches down from this line, and then another 1 inch for the sheetrock that will top the half wall. This will leave ¼ inch difference between the actual wall and the desired height that may not be noticed at all.

  3. Draw a level line at this measurement to mark the cut line, and cut through the existing wall materials with a reciprocating saw to separate the top of the wall from the bottom.

  4. Knock down the upper part of the wall with a hammer and/or sledgehammer to break apart the wall materials.

  5. Carefully remove the upper wall studs and set aside for disposal. Clean up all of the debris.

  6. Measure the width of the top of the half wall. Transfer this measurement to a two-by-four stud.

  7. Cut the measured stud with a compound miter saw.

  8. Set the stud horizontally across the top of the half wall, aligning it with the vertical wood studs. Screw it into each stud top using the 3- or 4-inch screws. Screw two into each stud.

  9. Cut sheetrock to enclose the sides of the wood stud. Measure the width and height of the pieces for both sides of the wall using a tape measure, and screw them into the wood stud using the 2-inch screws.

  10. Measure the width and length of the top of the half wall – across both the stud and the tops of the two pieces of sheetrock. Cut a piece of sheetrock using this measurement.

  11. Screw the top piece of sheetrock into the stud using the 2-inch screws.

  12. Enclose the rough edges of the half wall with strips of corner beads cut to the lengths, and hammer flathead nails along its length on both sides.

  13. Smooth joint compound over the edges, sides, seams and top – applying paper tape to the seams and smooth with spackling and feather knives to yield a finished look.

  14. Tip

    Install a wood topper to the half wall if it will be a frequently used surface. If the wall is weak and shaking, install simple columns at both ends of the wall that conceal the two-by-fours that support the wall and prevent it from wobbling.