Jan 17 , 2019
Closet planning and prep work
This built in closet isn’t complex. It’s basically the same concept as how to frame a wall with a door. An energetic beginner could complete it successfully in about four weekends. You probably don’t need a building permit for the closet, but if you add closet lighting you’ll need an electrical permit. Contact your local building department to be sure.
In addition to basic carpentry and drywall tools, you’ll need a circular saw to cut the framing lumber, a drill to drive screws and a power miter box to cut new trim. You could install the doors and trim with hand tools, but a pneumatic nail gun and power miter box will make the job a lot easier and more enjoyable. You can rent a nail gun and compressor and a power miter box.
Find a good closet location. You can easily modify our plan to build closets wherever they’ll fit. Reduce the door width to fit narrower rooms, or build a closet with one set of doors. If you’ll be hanging clothes, make sure the closet interior is at least 26 in. deep. Adjust the closet dimensions to avoid conflicts with electrical boxes, heat ducts and windows.
We chose hinged double doors for our closet because they’re sturdier and less troublesome than bifold doors. Order your two sets of doors prehung from a full-service lumberyard or home center. For 2×4 walls with 1/2-in. drywall on each side, order doors with 4-9/16 in. wide jambs. Request roller catches at the top of the doors to hold them shut. Remember, though—hinged doors need space to swing open. If floor space is limited in front of the closets, consider bifold doors instead. Ask for rough-opening dimensions when you order the doors
Then get started with the prep work. If your room is carpeted, roll the carpet back out of the way and pry up the tackless strips (wear leather gloves—the barbs on tackless strips are wickedly sharp). Protect hardwood, tile and vinyl floors by taping down two layers of heavy kraft paper plus a layer of thin plywood or hardboard. Carefully pry off the baseboard with a flat pry bar. If you plan to reuse it, pull the nails through the backside. Plus: Check out these other cheap closet updates you can DIY.
Frame the walls for a new closet with doors
Figure A: Closet Framing Details
Use a stud finder to locate and mark the framing members where the new wall butts into the existing walls and ceiling. If possible, attach the new wall plates and studs to existing framing members with 3-in. screws. Otherwise, use the method shown in Photo 4.
If you plan to add closet lights, locate an electrical box that can provide a power source and plan the cable route. If you’re unsure how to do this, call a licensed electrician to help you wire and install the lights. Photos 1 – 4 show how to chalk lines for and attach the top and bottom plates. Use perfectly straight 2x4s when you plumb up from the bottom plate to mark the ceiling (Photo 3). Be precise—mistakes here will cause crooked walls that will haunt you when it comes time to install the doors.
With the plates installed, completing the walls is a simple matter of measuring for and cutting the studs, door trimmers and cripples to fit. Add about 1/16 in. to your measurements when you cut the studs. It’s much easier to toe-screw tight-fitting studs. Attach the studs to the walls with construction adhesive and toggles or by nailing to an existing stud. When you use toggles, hold the 2×4 in place, drill the toggle locations (about 2 ft. apart with a 1/4-in. bit through both 2×4 and drywall). Then remove the 2×4 and drill the drywall with a 5/8-in. spade bit. Mount the toggles to the 2×4 (Photo 4), spread the adhesive, and shove the toggle wings through their holes.
Pick straight lumber for the studs and trimmers and cut up crooked lumber for the short cripples. See Fig. A for trimmer stud and header lengths. Measure for the cripples after you install the header.