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My friend has soft AC ductwork running up an interior wall. He wants to build a wall around it to hide the ductwork. My idea is to pack out the wall by nailing in framing between the ductwork right to the existing framing. My question is, do I need to remove the drywall to pack out the framing, or can I just nail 2x4s to the existing framing through the drywall? I would then drywall over the new 2x4s to hide the ductwork and go from there. I am certain it would be solid, I just want to be sure.

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It doesn't really matter either way. You'll have to do the same work to finish the drywall in either case.

If it's an exterior (insulated) wall, then cutting the drywall without damaging the vapour barrier is a bit tricky. I usually try to avoid cutting exterior walls for this reason alone.

Benefits to cutting the drywall:

  • If it's an interior wall, you might be able to put the duct work back into the wall cavity a bit deeper (or even entirely -- I don't know the entire situation). At the least this might help to have the bulkhead protrude out into the room a bit less.
  • You can be 100% sure about attaching to existing framing. This isn't hard anyway, but opening makes it a bit easier.
  • You can add cross-members for support if necessary, such as if the edge of the new bulkhead doesn't line up with the studs.

So unless you have a compelling reason (mostly one of the above), I wouldn't bother cutting existing drywall.

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It is an exterior wall, so the vapour barrier was an issue. I did ask about trying to recess the ductwork, but he would rather just build the wall. The ductwork actually runs down from the attic, down the wall, and through, to pass into an addition under the addition's roofline, so I can definitely add support. It should be easy to go right to existing framing as each duct runs on center of the framing, and through holes in the drywall where they pass through the addition, so I can see the framing clearly. Really a bad looking job if you ask me. Anyway, you answered my question, thank you! –  caps Apr 22 at 19:43

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