How do I build a half wall?

Answered by Brett ~ March 9, 2011 ~ Comments

I need to build a half wall in my kitchen. The wall part seems easy enough. The question is...the kitchen floor is tile. The wall would go on top of the tile. Do I drill holes in the tile and attach the base stud (of the half wall) to the floor with screws? Do I try to cut the tile with a dremel and attach the base stud to the wood subfloor below the tiles?

Chris ~ Denver, Colorado

Brett Kulina

Chris, if the newly built half wall will not bear a significant amount of weight, then you may be able to install the wall's sill plate directly over your existing kitchen floor. Of course, if a floor tile cracks or breaks sometime down the road, then you may have a difficult time removing the tile pieces from under the sill plate and replacing the broken tile. In a perfect world, the sill plate of any interior wall rests directly on top of the home's sub-floor, and is directly supported by the underlying floor framing. Then the finished flooring is installed right up to edge of the wall, where the seam is hidden by some base board trim.

If you do not want to install the new half wall directly on top of your existing tile floor, then you may have to cut out a long section of tile, in which you would install the sill plate of the new wall. This task could get messy, and even if you use a Dremel tool, or a tile cutting saw blade, you risk cracking some of the tiles. Instead, another option would be for you to set the sill plate on several risers that extend above the height of the finished floor, in which case you would only need to cut out the small sections of tile that are underneath the risers. If you opt to install the sill plate on risers, then you will need a stable vertical post(or wall) at each end of the new half wall for support. A half wall, which is only connected to a single post and the floor, may not be very stable and could possibly move when a weight or a force is applied to the wall.

If the new half wall can only be anchored to a vertical post (or wall) at one end, then you may need to consult a contractor who works in the Denver area about other ways to secure the new wall to the floor. There may be some hardware options or anchoring devices that can help support the new wall, especially if you can strengthen the wall by attaching it to the floor joists, which are under the kitchen floor. Good luck with your project!

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