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How to Build a Half Wall

If you have an area of your home that could use a bit more definition or privacy, a half wall might be just the solution you’re looking for. They’re often used to provide privacy in bathrooms, add boundaries to entryways, or break up large rooms. If you’re looking to undertake this as a DIY project, there are a few important things to keep in mind. 

What Is a Half Wall?  

A good first step is clarifying what a half wall is. Another related question would be, what is a pony wall? In short, they're the same thing. “Pony wall” and “half wall” are used interchangeably to describe a wall that doesn’t go all the way up to the ceiling. They’re usually about countertop height, though this can vary a bit depending on what purpose the half wall is serving. 

How to Build a Sturdy Half Wall 

When building a half wall, you’ll want to make sure it looks good and is sturdy. In terms of how to build a sturdy half wall, you’ll want to make sure you’re giving the wall as much structural support as you can, and this requires a bit of planning. Here are some things to consider before you get started: 

  • Figure out where you want your half wall, and how tall and long you want it to be. You can do this by marking out a spot on your floor with masking tape, keeping in mind that you’ll be using two by fours to construct it, plus drywall or tile. 

  • To be as strong as possible, a half wall needs to be anchored well. Since most half walls are set up to be perpendicular to an existing wall, this gives you a good initial place to start. Find a stud in the wall that runs perpendicular to your half wall and align the half wall with the existing stud. This will provide additional support for your half wall. 

  • For the sturdiest half wall, you’ll want to cut away the subfloor beneath the half wall so you can tie the structure of the half wall into the existing floor. While you could technically just frame up a half wall section and connect it to the wall and floor with screws or bolts, this isn’t recommended for a half wall that is longer than a couple of feet long. 

  • Ideally, your half wall will also line up with a floor joist, and you can use that structure to connect to the bottom plate of the half wall. If not, you’ll have to add blocking to the area under the half wall to provide additional support and areas to connect the structures together.  

  • Half walls should be framed with standard 16 or 24 inch centers, depending on the building code in your area. 

  • Once you’ve finished constructing the half wall, finish it by adding drywall. If it’s in a bathroom, use a backer board that is appropriate for wet environments. 

Related Topic: Plaster vs. Drywall: The Advantages & Disadvantages 

Need Help Building a New Half Wall? 

Building a half wall that’s both sturdy and attractive is doable with a bit of patience, planning, and know-how. But if you think this process might be too much, or you want to take advantage of the Neighborly Done Right Promise, call your local Mr. Handyman at (877) 685-1377 or submit a service request online for wall repairs and renovations, room separators to get started.