I'm looking to build a wall in the basement. Basement exterior walls have concrete ledge so I'm planning to build a wall in front of it to build a straight wall floor to ceiling. I have couple questions:

  1. Since the exterior wall is already load bearing, the new wall in front should not be load bearing right?

  2. If the above is true, then can I frame the wall with screws and not nails? And can I use a 2 x 3 instead? Sole purpose of this wall is to hang drywall from floor to ceiling.

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    Good Question: unless there is something in your local code preventing you doing that, it should be OK. From my point of view the only dumb questions are the ones that are not asked!
    – Gil
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:00
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    @crip659, reason is I don't have a nail gun and want to avoid purchasing one if not absoultely necessary haha. Yes I'll be anchoring to ceiling and floor. Thank you for your answer! Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:02
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    Not really an answer to your question but you might reconsider your stance on nail guns. Once you try one you will be hooked.
    – jwh20
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:06
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    Could also use a hammer and practice your lalochezia.
    – crip659
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:17
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    Suggestion: Some basement walls leach moisture. It can be very slow, and you may never see it but if you cover it up it becomes a problem. Before covering your basement walls with drywall, tape a sheet of clear plastic 3 feet by 3 feet to the wall on all four sides, and leave it there for a few months, including a period of rain and/or snow melt. If the wall behind the plastic becomes darker or damp, you need to protect your interior walls from that moisture.
    – jay613
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:58

2 Answers 2


Sure you can use screws they would be stronger than nails. It’s a non weight bearing wall I have seen plenty toe nailed in place with 8 penny. Make sure to anchor the bottom plate and the top.

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    Yes, screws are fine. Build the wall on the floor and then raise it with the help of a friend or two and then party...+1
    – JACK
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:21
  • Non-load bearing is the critical phrase. You cannot frame bearing walls with screws.
    – J...
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 2:11

I often use screws in such situations. Toenailing upside-down is not for the uninitiated. It's an exercise in frustration as:

  • it's physically demanding
  • things tend to jump around when you really don't want them to

I say toenailing because building walls on the ground and tipping them up requires a high level of measurement precision. Concrete floors are never flat, and you end up with either big gaps above or walls that require sledgehammers to get into position. Or both. So lay out your plates, install them, then measure studs individually.

I would qualify this by saying not to use drywall (black oxide) screws, which are brittle and don't tolerate bending. Almost any decent gold 3" screw would be fine.

  • And this is the use case for the 3" screws. Can't use them when attaching stuff to existing finished walls because there could be wires through the middle of studs, etc. But building new, 3" screws are really strong with no downside. Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 21:25
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    I mean cabinets, standards for shelves, etc. Might have < 1" of stuff (or less) + 1/2" drywall - so a 3" screw will go more than 1-1/2" into a 2x4. Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 21:30
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    And congratulations on your 100K !
    – P2000
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 21:39
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    Yes, congratulations on your 100K. Thanks for editing so many of my posts. :-)
    – JACK
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 22:35
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact The only downside is strength, which is why they're only an option for non-bearing walls. Nails are much tougher than plain screws. Softwood + nails is like concrete + rebar. Screws don't shear well at all, though, and they're quite brittle so under load they fail catastrophically like popcorn. There are listed structural screws, of course, but the downside there becomes cost.
    – J...
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 3:05

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