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I am working on a wall that will separate the main basement area from the storage area (with a door). This new wall will run along the above floor joist which removes the possibility for drywall anchors. I cannot add blocking there either because it is covered for an air return from the main floor.

The attached image shows a basic view of the proposed wall and where it would run along the joist.

Can I still put drywall up without anchoring this edge? Will the wall's future drywall butting up against the loose ceiling edge be sufficient to anchor it?

Proposed wall along floor joist, shows lack of drywall anchors

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    Why can't you add blocking, it looks like the wall will be directly under a ceiling joist. – Platinum Goose Feb 7 at 3:06
  • Without the blocking the edge will be subject to motion that will crack the joint. – mike65535 Feb 7 at 12:58
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You can purchase metal "corner backing"--essentially a sheet metal angle that you attach to your top plate. It's very similar to corner bead, which could probably serve as a substitute, but it doesn't have holes and it's slightly larger. The drywall then screws into that.

Obviously the screws will penetrate the air return, but I don't consider that a problem.

There are also clips like this that you'd slide the ceiling panels into. They'd be oriented opposite of what's shown here.

enter image description here

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I'd say just use 2x4s to build what you have sketched in red, then attach the top plate to the joists above. I don't think the air return is much of an issue.

It's not "ideal" but it shouldn't be a problem. In any case it's highly preferable to having drywall sheets just "loose" at the top.

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