I was hanging stuff in the garage, and could not find the studs. The first one was 12 inches from the corner, then 16, then 13 1/2, then 15, then 14, etc. I needed the stuff hung further down, so after a lot of small nail holes, I cut some sheet rock off of the bottom. I found a 2-by-4 stud, and the next was 14 1/2 inches away, and the next stud was a 4-by-4, not a 2-by-4. Any reason for this headache?
Brian C. ~ Stockton, California
Hi Brian, Welcome to the world of remodeling and renovations. This is an issue that remodeling contractors run into all the time and usually the older the home is, the more oddities that might be found behind the plaster or sheetrock.
You don't mention if your garage is detached or how old it is, but it could simply be that the homeowner who built it wanted to use the old lumber they had around the yard, and they weren't very good at using a tape measure. There are many garages, sheds, and even barns around that aren't very good examples of proper framing, but they've managed to remain standing for many years.
Modern framing does have instances when stud spacing may be altered due to window or door placement or what might be located above the framed wall. A framing contractor may be setting their studs at 16 inches on center and all of a sudden have a window or door jack that shortens the spacing at that point to something other than 16 inches. The framing below the window opening and above the header should remain at the 16 inches.
If there is something above the framed wall that might need some additional support, it is not unusual to add a stud in the wall to provide a bearing point down to the slab and foundation. If the item needing support is something heavy such as a girder truss or beam, several studs or a 4-by-4 post might be added into the wall to provide additional support. If your garage is a part of your home and on the lower level with living space above, there could very well be quite a few bearing points that need to be carried down to the foundation and the framer placed studs in the walls to do so.
I'm not sure how close Stockton is to the fault lines out there in California, but I suppose there could even be a remote chance the additional framing was added for that reason. I know it can be aggravating trying to find studs when the spacing is off, but the good news is that they are closer than they need to be in your walls instead of too far apart. I have never used one of those stud finders available at home improvement stores, but I've heard they work pretty well. You might want to give one a try so you don't have so many holes to patch.