How to Build a Rounded Interior Wall
Curved interior walls add drama to a room, at once projecting a feeling of elegance and style. Rather than sticking with the traditional squared room construction, add a rounded interior wall in the mix and totally transform the look -- and feel -- of your entire home. Once thought of as labor-intensive and difficult to build, modern building methods and plywood make the job exacting but easily possible for even the newcomer to carpentry. The biggest challenge, laying out the curve and creating wall plates to build it, requires little more than thinking outside the box. Well, and a tape measure and plywood.
Make a giant compass to use in scribing the circular shapes needed for your wall. Measure and cut a strip of wood, hardboard or plywood -- even a cloth measuring tape will work, although a rigid material works better -- to 2 or 3 inches longer than the radius of the wall required, which is the distance from the center of the circle to any point along its outer edge. Drill a hole large enough to accommodate, snugly, a marker or carpenter's pencil at the exact radius measurement.
Mark the rounded wall's base, which is the point at which the wall will begin and end again and from which the radius extends outward. Run a straightedge across the area and draw a line or snap a chalk line instead. Make the line the exact length needed. For instance, to connect two straight walls running perpendicular to each other with a rounded wall in between as the corner, if the opening between the two walls is 8 feet, the base is also 8 feet and runs diagonally between the two walls.
Draw the wall's curve on the floor to indicate the placement using the compass previously created. Find the center point of the wall base -- 4 feet in the previous example -- and drive a nail or concrete anchor through the compass end into the floor to attach. Holding the marker or pencil in the opening at the other end of the compass, swing the compass around to create a precise arc representing the wall.
Find the center of a sheet of 3/4-inch-thick plywood, lengthwise. Draw the compass, from the center of the base, as you did on the floor, across the plywood to mark the wall curve. If the length of the base is greater than a sheet of plywood, break the base into sections and mark a sheet of plywood for each section, varying the length of the sections to allow you to stagger the seams later. For walls with a radius greater than the plywood, lengthwise, attach the compass at a point the appropriate distance away from the plywood and proceed the same way.
Reduce the compass radius by 3 1/2 inches, either shortening the tape measure or cutting the board used. Repeat the scribing process, drawing a second, parallel curved line, to allow for the width of the plate needed. Regular stud walls use 2-by-4-inch boards -- actually measuring 1 1/2-by-3 1/2 -- as plates sandwiching the studs. For a curved wall, the plates will be made of this plywood using the same dimensions.
Cut along both radius lines using a circular saw, handsaw or the saw that works best for you. Lay the first wall plate -- or sections of wall plate, if more than one is required -- on additional sheets of plywood and trace around them. Make four layers of wall plates total to equal the 3 inches of thickness provided by 2-by-4-inch top and bottom wall plates in traditional walls.
Spread an even layer of wood epoxy or carpenter's glue, according to product instructions, across the top of the bottom wall plate layer. Attach the top layer, aligning each piece before pressing into place and tacking together with short nails. Stagger each seam, ensuring you maintain the proper wall length; working next to the wall layout lines and matching the construction to the lines helps. Bond the top two wall plate layers similarly.
Mark the stud locations, one plate at a time, with a pencil and tape measure. Space the studs 8 inches apart, running the stud square to the plate -- that is, turning at an angle as the wall curves -- so that the studs will remain flush with the plates at the edges.
Turn the bottom plate so the opening faces up. With the help of an assistant to prevent the wall section from rolling, align each stud, cut to the length needed, with the stud mark on the plate. Drive two 16d nails, slightly staggered, through the plate into the stud end where it contacts the plate. Align and attach the top plate similarly.
Erect the rounded wall, positioning it over the floor markings. Drive 16d nails through the bottom plate into the floor -- substituting concrete anchors for nails if the floor is concrete -- to secure to the floor. Secure tie plates or tie straps to both the curved wall section and the adjoining wall section, following product instructions, to secure to the adjoining walls. Nail through the top plate into the ceiling wherever a ceiling joist is located, additionally.
Sheath the wall with 1/8-inch-thick drywall or other suitable, bendable material. Drive screws through the edge of the drywall, anchoring it to the first stud, and layer a thin board over the drywall edge to reinforce it so it won't break loose. Slowly wet the back of the drywall slightly to encourage it to flex without breaking. Working backwards, wet and secure to the first stud encountered. Wet again and anchor to the next stud. Repeat until the wall is completely covered. Follow product directions for other sheathing materials. Tape and finish wall covering as desired. Insulate the interior if preferred and finish the inside of the wall similarly.
Things You Will Need
- Tape measure
- Strip of wood the length of the wall radius
- Marker or carpenter's pencil
- Chalk line (optional)
- 3/4-inch-thick plywood
- Wood epoxy or carpenter's glue
- 1 1/4-inch nails
- 2-by-4-inch boards
- 16d nails
- Tie plates or tie straps
- 1/8-inch-thick drywall or other bendable wall sheathing
- Drywall screws
- Spray bottle
- Drywall tape
- Drywall mud
- Thin strip of wood
- To create a door opening, use a plate width thick enough to allow the straight door to fit within the plate area without sticking out past the wall. Frame the opening with a header, supported by jack studs, and an additional 2 inches for the rough opening. Check for accuracy before sheathing; if the actual door sticks out past the wall surface, cut wider plates and test again.
- Use treated wood wherever the wall contacts concrete. Concrete allows moisture to migrate into adjoining materials. Treated plywood and treated studs are both available.