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I'd like to add partitions to this grid of columns. I want to make "normal" walls, framed with 2x4 and faced with plywood or drywall. My concern is how to attach the walls to the columns. Naively, I would build the wall frames, put them in place between two columns, then put concrete anchors through the sides of the frame into the column. That strikes me as possibly not the best solution.

column grid diagram

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Are you allowed to damage the columns, or will the building owner not like it when you move out? –  Walker Jul 5 '11 at 9:04
    
I can put anchors and reasonably sized holes in the columns. I can't do significant structural damage. They do, after all, hold the sky up :) –  Sparr Jul 6 '11 at 4:11
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4 Answers

Your solution is fine. I have seen that done a lot. Although, steel studs are used more often in this type of setting. I think I would use a Hilti gun instead of concrete anchors, this will save time, money and be more secure just because you can have more nails than you could ever put anchors.

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+1 for steel studs –  Chris Cudmore Jul 5 '11 at 15:34
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+1 for hilti anchors. it may seem expensive to buy the device and supplies, but think about how much it would cost to buy a hammer drill and how long it would take you to drill all of those holes. savings! –  longneck Jul 5 '11 at 23:21
    
I spent a lot of quality time with my hammer drill while re-roofing my garage. Used about 150 tapcon screws. I'm guessing a powder-actuated concrete nail system would have saved me a lot of time. –  Shimon Rura Jul 6 '11 at 1:17
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I would definitely go concrete nailer. Steel studs work well, but can be a pain later on for hanging shelving or art, if that is a consideration in your space. You can use a nailer either way, with correctly sized nails, and driver, –  zenbike Jul 7 '11 at 9:23
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I'd be overly paranoid about penetrating the columns with anything as they are load bearing. What I'd probably do is get Simpson L-ties (or just angle iron) and fasten them to the edge of wood framing the width of the columns.

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Basically building a wood frame around the column? I like this idea. –  Sparr Jul 6 '11 at 4:12
    
that's not quite what I was thinking (I wasn't thinking of framing all the way around) but now that you mention it, I think framing the column is a great idea. –  DA01 Jul 6 '11 at 5:26
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Personally I think your solution sounds fine. Additionally I would also anchor the sole (bottom) plate into the existing (concrete slab?) floor.

What is worrying you about your solution, giving you reason for concern?

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I've seen other solutions that involve wrapping a steel collar or strap around the column. Whatever reason there is for that must be a reason against my solution, right? Also, I'm never comfortable with concrete anchors :( –  Sparr Jul 5 '11 at 2:02
    
Not necessarily, just a different approach taken to achieve a good fixing for the frame if you ask me. How was the collar/strap attached to the concrete columns? If you're not comfortable with concrete anchors then I guess you need a solution that does make you comfortable... –  Mike Perry Jul 5 '11 at 2:29
    
my concern would be messing with load bearing columns. –  DA01 Jul 5 '11 at 22:03
    
@DA01, attaching some lightweight stud work (walls) to those columns is going to have virtually zero bearing on the load they are designed to carry (just my opinion with 16 years experience as a Structural (7 years) & Civil (9 years) designer). –  Mike Perry Jul 6 '11 at 1:17
    
I'm sure it's a very valid opinion. I'm not an engineer. ;) –  DA01 Jul 6 '11 at 2:25
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There is a special type of fastening tool specifically for use in fastening framing to concrete. A brand name example is Hilti. They are powder actuated, and use nails with steel plates to anchor the wood/steel to the concrete in question.

You may be able to rent a Hilti, but most places require safety training with them (and rightly so).

http://www.us.hilti.com/holus/page/module/product/prca_catnavigation.jsf?lang=en&nodeId=-61411

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You can get power actuated guns at Home Depot for about $30. Granted, I don't know if they're rated for industrial grade concrete, but it worked great for our residential basement. –  DA01 Jul 5 '11 at 22:04
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