Installing Timber Stud Partitions

If you own an older property, it is quite possible some rooms may be too large for present day needs — and very expensive to heat. One answer is to install a simple timber stud partition, which consists of a sturdy timber framework covered on each side with wallboards. Tapered edge plasterboard is normally used to cover the frame, but other types of board may also be used. The vertical pieces of the frame are known as studs and the horizontal pieces between are noggings.

The timber stud partition, which stands between an existing floor and ceiling, usually divides a room and is known as a non-loadbearing partition. Although the structure is of lightweight timber, it will be necessary in some cases to submit plans of the proposed work to the local authority for approval under the Building Regulations; always check this before you start work.

A partition with one layer of 12.7mm thick plasterboard on both sides of the frame will give acceptable sound insulation each side for normal domestic purposes and has a fire resistance rating of 30 minutes. By adding to the density of the partition you can improve both sound insulation and fire resistance; two layers of plasterboard each side will reduce sound transmission considerably and increase fire resistance to 60 minutes. You can achieve still further sound insulation by fixing 25mm glass fibre blanket inside the cavity of the framework.

Installing Timber Stud Partitions

For optimum sound insulation it is necessary to seal all cracks and air passages between rooms; pack large cavities such as the space behind skirtings with glass fibre blanket and seal gaps between plasterboards and between plasterboard and existing walls with a proprietary wall filler.

Designing a partition

A basic partition is taken straight across a room; usually a door is built at one end because this saves a lot of unnecessary alteration work — as long as you are prepared to have access to one room through another. However, it is not too difficult to design a partition which has two new doors and a small lobby; you lose a little floor space, but each room will have its own door. The lobby can be lit with a small fan light window above each of the doors or you can fit glazed doors with roller blinds for privacy. Another alternative is to build a plain partition and form a new doorway in an existing wall.

Sometimes you may find it is not necessary to take the partition right across the room; by building it only part of the way across, you can form an alcove — ideal for a baby’s cot in the parent’s bedroom, for a dining area or a shower cubicle. In this case you only fix one end stud to the existing wall; take extra care to ensure the head (ceiling) and sole (floor) plates of the frame are securely fixed.

Bedroom partition

If a large room is to be divided to form two bedrooms, you must have a window in each room which opens direct to the outside air: you may need to form a new window in an external wall or to break into the loft space and fit a skylight which can be cord-operated for ventilation.

Bathroom partition

Showers or bathrooms do not require external windows which open for ventilation; you could have artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation, such as a wall-mounted or ducted extractor fan discharging directly to the outside. Bear in mind that plasterboard partitions used in shower cubicles must be tiled.

Borrowed lights

These internal windows, which are fitted into the top of a partition, allow light to pass from a room with an external window to the other side of the partition. They are useful for shower partitions and are normally glazed with obscured glass; they can be double-glazed to increase sound insulation. It is usual to keep borrowed lights above head height, from about 2m (6ft 7in) up to the ceiling.

Serving hatch You can easily incorporate a serving hatch into a stud partition; it can be built anywhere in the frame and is lined with planed timber in the same way as a door or window opening.

Electrics

Wall light points, light switches and socket outlets can be fitted into the frame before the plasterboard is fixed. You should ensure any holes drilled through studs for conduit or cable runs are placed dead centre so there is no danger of nails piercing the cable as the plasterboard is fitted. If switch or outlet points fall between the main studs and noggings, fit extra studs or noggings to support the fixings or buy self-supporting fixings.

Plumbing

Pipework can also be concealed within the partition; you must fit the main pipe runs before the plasterboard is fixed. Fit extra noggings or studs to support heavy fittings such as wash-basin support brackets and make sure pipes are fitted on the centre lines of the studs.

Making the frame

Once you have decided upon the wall panelling to be used and taken delivery of it, you can take exact measurements directly from the panels so you can place studs and noggings accurately at the edges; this will ensure trimming of panels is kept to a minimum. It is usual to use 2400x 1200mm (8 x 4ft) sheets of tapered edge plasterboard, which give a smooth and continuous wall finish suitable for any decoration once the joints have been filled. If the partition is to include a door, you should buy it before starting so the doorway will be made exactly to size.

Timber size

If you are fitting plasterboard panels. Use 75 x 50mm (3 x 2in) unplaned softwood for the frame if the floor-to-ceiling height is under 2.4m (or 8ft) and 100 x 50nun (4 x 2in) timber if the floor-to-ceiling height is between 2.4 and 3.7m (or 8-12ft). A ceiling above 3.7m (12ft) is rare; if you have a room this high, consult a wall panelling manufacturer for suitable timber sizes. Head plate Remove any ceiling cornice which will be in the way when you come to fit the head plate of the frame. To fix the head plate securely to the ceiling you will have to determine which way the ceiling joists run. If the line of the proposed partition runs across the joists, it can be fixed anywhere. If it runs parallel to the joists, you can move the partition to come under a joist or else fit 75 x 50mm (3 x 2in) mounting blocks between joists. Fix the blocks close to each end of the partition and at approximately 800mm (or 32in) intervals; they should be a snug fit between joists and in contact with the ceiling.

You may be able to see the joists by going into the loft space or, if there is a room above, by looking at the run of the floorboards (at right-angles to the joists). If you are not able to locate the joists from above, you will have to probe through the ceiling with a bradawl; once you have located one joist, bear in mind the usual spacing between joists is roughly 400-460mm (about 16-18in). Ideally the joists should run at right-angles to the head plate. Fix it to them by drilling and screwing through the plate into every other joist using 89 or 102mm screws: do not use nails, because they will disturb the plaster.

If you have a lath and plaster ceiling, it is best to remove the portion of ceiling between joists where the head plate is to run and replace it with a strip of plasterboard. After the partition is finished you will have to replaster the portion of ceiling. Once you have located and prepared the joists for fixing, adding mounting blocks if required, cut the head plate to length and temporarily fix it in place with two or three screws.

Sole plate

It is essential the partition is vertical, so use a chalked plumb line to mark vertical lines from ceiling to floor on the walls at each end of the head plate. Chalk a line across the floor to line up with those on the walls: this is the position of the sole plate. This plate takes very little weight once the partition is finished, so there is no need to fix mounting blocks between floor joists if the sole plate position is mid-way between two floor joists. But the ideal position for a sole plate is at right-angles to or directly above a floor joist. Cut the plate to fit: if the partition is to include doorways. You can either cut them out of the plate now or saw the piece out later on. Temporarily fix the plate to the floor with nails. Cut a length of straight timber to fit between the ceiling and floor and use this with a spirit level against the sides of the head and sole plates to check once again they are correctly positioned to give a vertical wall.

End studs

The studs at the ends of the frame must be located with a spirit level to ensure they are vertical; it is likely the side walls in an older house will be out of true. Mark the centre lines of the end studs onto the sole and head plates. If the end studs are not hard against the existing walls, you can trim the plasterboard later to fit (intermediate studs will be positioned to allow for this adjustment).

Main studs

If you are using plasterboard. The vertical studs must be fixed at 600mm (or 24in) intervals if the board is 12.7mm (fin) thick and at 400mm (or 16in) intervals if the board is 9.5mm thick. Use the thicker board for a large partition because this will involve only a small increase in plasterboard costs and a considerable saving on timber costs. Assuming you are using 1200mm (47/in) wide sheets, mark onto the sole plate the centre line of a main stud 1155mm (441in) along from the centre line of each stud. This will allow 45mm to trim the sheet against an uneven wall. Mark the centre lines of subsequent stuck .1t 1200mm (or 48in) interval,’ so the sheets can be fixed without trimming and the studs will support their edges. Mark the main studs along the length of the partition; there will probably be a small gap to be filled with an offcut of board at the far end.

You can now mark in the centre lines of the intermediate studs — either 600mm (231in) or 400mm (15/in) apart according to the thickness of the plasterboard you are using. Mark corresponding centre lines on the head plate and check again with a length of timber and a spirit level that each stud will be vertical. Studs at each side of a doorway must be sufficiently spaced to allow for the width of the door, the thickness of the door linings at each side and 4mm (13; in) clearance.

Fixing studs You can butt-join the studs to the head and sole plate, but the partition will be stronger if you make simple housing joints for the studs. Remove the temporarily fixed head and sole plates and cut the housings across the full width of the plate to a depth of about lOmm (din). The housings must be cut exactly over the centre lines you have already marked to enable the 50mm (2 in) studding timber to fit smoothly into them. Screw the head plate permanently into place against the ceiling and fix the sole plate to the floor.

Use 69mm (2-/in) screws if the sole plate is to be fixed to a timber floor (so there is no chance of damaging cables or pipes), inserting them at about 700mm (or 28in) intervals. For a solid floor, drill the sole plate and floor so the plate can be fixed with 89mm (31in) screws and wall plugs or expanding bolts; insert the screws or bolts at about 800mm (or 32in) intervals. If the solid floor has only recently been laid, you should insert a strip of bitumen damp proof membrane under the sole plate to protect it as the concrete dries out.

Measure and cut each stud individually, because it is unlikely the floor and ceiling will be exactly parallel. Use two battens to measure the length between the two housings and mark where they overlap so you can lay the battens onto the studding timber and accurately mark the ends for cutting. Cut the studs and coat their ends with adhesive before sliding them into place in the housings; you may need to use a mallet to ease them in. Skew-nail them to the head and sole plates; if there is a danger of dislodging ceiling plaster, you can use screws instead of nails.

Give additional support to the end studs by drilling and plugging the existing wall in two or three places so 89mm screws can be fitted. If the wall bows away from the stud, hold the stud firm with folding wedges or packing pieces between the stud and wall.

Fixing noggings

These are to stiffen the frame and to prevent the studs from bowing; they are glued and skew-nailed between studs. Make sure they are a tight fit and position them at 1200mm intervals if you are using 2400mm high (or more) plasterboard. For 1800mm sheets, fix the noggings at 900mm (or 36in), 1800mm (or 72in) and at 2700mm (or 108in) from the floor if the partition is sufficiently high for this third set of noggings.

Doorways

The head plate of a doorway must be securely fitted into a simple housing cut into the studs at each side of the opening. It must be fitted at door height plus the thickness of the door lining and a 4mm clearance; use a spirit level to make sure the head is exactly level. If both studs on either side of the doorway are vertical, you can fix the door linings directly to the framework. If the framework is out of true, you should pack the linings with wedges to bring them square; to check they are square measure the diagonals, which should be equal.

Make the door linings from 38mm door moulding of sufficient width to cover the thickness of the framework, plus the thickness of plasterboard on each side. Later on you should cover the joint between the plasterboard and the door with an architrave. If the lining is not a moulding incorporating a door stop, make one from 25mm timber and glue and nail a 25 x 13mm strip to form the stop.

You can position borrowed lights either above the door openings as fanlights or along the upper part of the partition. They are made in the same way as doorways; but if you require larger windows than there is space for between the studs, you will have to alter the framework beforehand. Make the frame from 100 x 50mm (4 x 2in) timber regardless of ceiling height if you intend to include borrowed lights; this will ensure the frame is strong enough. To double-glaze borrowed lights you should fix two panes of glass either side of a 75mm (3in) parting bead.

The end of a plasterboard partition which runs only part of the way across a room can be finished off with a piece of lining timber and two architraves.

Fitting plasterboard

Plasterboard sheets should always be carried on edge between two people and stored flat in a dry place. Do not stack them more than 1m (or 3ft) high. Tapered edge plasterboard has an ivory coloured surface and tapered long edges which, when fixed and jointed, give a smooth, flat surface ready for decoration.

Start fitting boards at an end wall. If you need to trim boards to fit between floor and ceiling, cut them 25mm shorter than the floor to ceiling height. Cut through the ivory face with a trimming knife, snap the board over a timber batten to break the plaster core and cut through the grey paper face.

Cut a block of timber to a triangular shape and use this to position the boards. Press the top of the board against the ceiling (ivory face outwards) and fix with plasterboard nails driven into the studs at 150nun (6in) intervals. The edges of the boards should be exactly central on the studs and the nails should be no closer than 13mm (fin) from the edge; nail the boards to the noggings as well. Drive the nails in so they are below the plasterboard surface, but make sure they do not tear the paper.

Fix the end board temporarily over the secondto-last board and, with a pencil held against a 1200nun (47iin) long batten, scribe a line onto the board following the wall line. As long as you keep the batten level so the board is cut to this line, it will fit exactly against the wall.

Cover all joints with filler and reinforcing tape, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a special jointing applicator, apply a thin band of joint filler into the joints. Cut the required length of joint tape and press it into the filler using a filling knife; make sure the tape is firmly embedded and free from pockets of air. Apply a second coat of filler level with the surface of the boards. Moisten a fine-textured sponge and wipe off surplus material from the edges of the joint; take care not to disturb the main filling. After about an hour the filler will have set, but not dried out; apply a thin layer of joint finish using the applicator supplied and feather out the edges with the dampened sponge. When the joint finish has set and dried hard, apply a second coat in a broad band.

After the joints have set and dried you can apply a thin slurry of joint finish over both board and joint with the sponge; this will even up any difference in surface texture. You can now fit skirtings and ceiling cove (as required) to match the existing room decorations.

There are several alternative materials you can use to cover a timber stud partition, apart from tapered-edge plasterboard. Some wall claddings can be used to form a lightweight partition which only uses timber round the perimeter; these are known as single skin partitions.

When planning a timber stud partition you should make sure the structure will comply with Building Regulations, particularly with regard to fire. If you are changing the use of a building (converting a house into flats for example), the regulations must be observed and great care should be taken to choose a suitable cladding material. Wood-based sheet materials can make a predictable contribution to the fire-resistance of a structure. As far as surface spread of flame characteristics are concerned, Building Regulations may require the use of boards treated with a flame-retardant or the application of a flame-retardant paint or coating. Further information can be obtained from the relevant advisory bodies or your local building control officer.

Square-edge plasterboard

You can use this type of plasterboard to cover a conventional timber stud partition. Fix the edges of the boards so you leave a 1.5mm gap between each one; the joints are finished off with strips of barbed T-section plastic extrusion. The extrusions, which are held in place with impact adhesive, are also available in F and L-section strips for external angles and smaller L-section strips for internal angles. The strips are finished in black, white or light grey and can be bought from plasterboard suppliers. When fitting boards, ensure fixing nails are within 6mm of the edge of the plasterboard so their heads will be covered by the extrusion. You can form an attractive panelled effect with square-edge plasterboard by gluing or pinning cover strips of wood, metal or plastic over the joints; the strips can be plain or patterned for extra effect.

Although not really intended for this purpose, you can use square-edge boards to produce a flush wall surface. Fit them so there is a gap of about 3mm between edges and rub down all cut edges with fine glasspaper to remove any paper burr; fill nail holes and the joints with wall filler. When the filler is dry, rub the plasterboard smooth with an abrasive block and add another coating to fill low spots on the surface. You can reinforce the joint, to prevent it cracking in the future, by covering it with plasterboard joint tape bedded into joint finish compound; this should be feathered out in a band 150mm (6in) wide using a dampened sponge.

When this has dried, apply a second coat of joint finish in a 200-250mm (or 8-10in) band, again feathering out the edges.

Bevelled-edge plasterboard

This type of board can also be used to clad timber studs. V-joints, which are formed when the boards are fixed, are intended as decorative features. Finish the partition by simply filling nail holes and the base of the V-joint with joint filler, wiping off any excess with a dampened sponge.

Plywood

This will give a partition strength and is easy to decorate; often the partition is double-faced with plywood and partially glazed to provide borrowed lights. Usually 6mm thick plywood in 1200 x 2400mm (or 4 x 8ft) sheets is suitable. Studs should support sheet edges and intermediate studs should be fixed at 400mm (or 16in) intervals; one row of noggings between the floor and ceiling will be sufficient. Nail the sheets to the framework at 150mm (6in) intervals, keeping the nails at least 13mm from the edges of the sheets. Punch nail heads below the surface, fill all holes and rub down with an abrasive block before decorating. You can cover the joints with wood, plastic or metal strips or you can leave a 3-6mm gap between sheets; this will give a flat, panelled effect after the partition is painted. It is important in all cases to plan the work so you leave equal size panels at each end of the partition. Tongued and grooved panels These plywood panels can be used in 1500mm (or 60in) lengths, 400, 500 and 600mm (or 16, 20 and 24in) widths and 12mm thicknesses. You can fit them vertically or horizontally and make a feature of the V-joint between panels. With plywood of this thickness supports can be up to 600mm (or 24in) apart. To improve sound insulation through any double-skin plywood partition, fill the cavity with acoustic material such as mineral wool.

Fibre building boards

Because they are dense, smooth and easily fitted, fibre building boards are ideal material for cladding a timber stud partition. Use standard and tempered hardboard or the thicker, high density (HM) medium boards. They give a good standard of sound insulation; remember, the thicker and denser the board, the better the sound insulation. A layer of mineral wool quilting in the cavity of a hollow partition will improve sound insulation still further. In most cases, hardboards and high density medium boards satisfy Building Regulations with regard to surface spread of flame, but you can achieve an even higher level of resistance with flame-retardant boards or with flame-retardant paint. Your local building control officer will advise you.

Standard and tempered hardboard sheets are available in thicknesses of 3-6mm. HM medium board, also called panelboard, is available in thicknesses of 9-12mm. Most boards are supplied undecorated and have a hard, shiny’ brown surface on one or both sides; predecorated boards with a wide range of finishes are also available.

Before assembly, condition undecorated boards by standing them in the room where they are to be fitted; use blocks between them to let air circulate over all surfaces. The boards should be left at least two days before fixing; this enables them to achieve a moisture content in balance with that of the surrounding air and prevents them from bowing or buckling after they have been fixed.

The spacing of the studs will depend on the thickness and type of board you are using; for hardboard of 3, 4.8 and 6mm thickness, the maximum stud spacings are 406, 508 and 610mm (16, 20 and 24in) respectively. For medium board of 6mm and 9mm thickness, the maximum stud spacing is 406mm (16in); for 12mm and 18mm board, the maximum spacing is 610mm (24in).

You can either nail the boards to the frame or fix them with impact adhesive; nails should be spaced at 100mm (4in) intervals approximately 13mm (4in) from the edges. Fix the boards to the intermediate studs at 150mm (6in) intervals. It is generally best to feature the joints between boards by fitting hardboard, timber, metal or plastic cover strips. Alternatively you can form a V-joint by bevelling the edges or make a feature of the joint by leaving a gap of about 13mm between the boards. Paint the background to match or contrast with the finished colour. Sand the edges of the boards so they taper to make a flush joint for wallpapering and fix the boards so there is a 3mm gap between each. Press cellulose filler into the joint, lay reinforcing scrim tape into place and smooth more filler over the top. When the joint has hardened you can sand it flat. Seal fibre building boards with hardboard primer before wallpapering to ensure the board is not damaged when you remove the wallpaper to redecorate.

Chipboard

Chipboard is available in a wide variety of finishes. You can produce a textured surface with standard chipboard, with medium to large particles on the surface, by applying emulsion paint which will swell the surface chips. Clear sealers will give a cork-like effect or you can prime and wallpaper the boards. You can also wallpaper chipboard which has a fine surface chip or finish it with matt or semi-gloss paint. Use melamine-faced chipboard if you require a hard-wearing, washable decorative surface and vinyl-faced chipboard for a medium wear, washable decorative surface. Chipboard is also available in natural wood veneer, textile-surfaced and painted finishes.

Chipboard is not generally as resistant to fire as plasterboard; although it does conform with The fire resistance requirements of the Building Regulations for domestic partitions. Apply fire-retardant paint to improve the surface spread of flame; your local building control officer will advise you.

For most purposes, 12-18mm chipboard can be nailed, screwed or glued to a conventional 75 x 50mm (3 x 2in) timber stud frame; the perimeters of the boards must be supported by the frame, with additional intermediate studs. These studs should be placed at up to 610mm (24in) intervals if you are using boards up to 15mm thick; place them at 750mm (or 30in) intervals if the boards are 18mm and above.

Asbestos Asbestos insulating boards have good surface spread of flame characteristics, but you must be very careful not to inhale the dust when working with the boards. Seal them with emulsion paint or alkali-resistant primer after the partition is fixed. The sheets most widely available, 6mm thick, are 2130 x 910mm (or 7 x 3ft) or 2440 x 1220 (or 8 x 4ft). Position studs at a maximum of 610mm (24in) intervals and drill holes for the fixing nails to prevent the sheets cracking. Use galvanized nails and place them no less than 13mm from the edges of the boards and spaced 300mm (12in) apart. Cover joints with 50mm (2in) wide timber, plastic or metal strips glued into place or screwed through to the timber framework.

Single skin partitions

The timber framing is a considerable expense in the building of a stud partition; one way of reducing the cost is to erect a single skin partition which will require fewer timber battens or studs. This is also an advisable alternative if you require a temporary partition which can be fitted easily and quickly. It is well worth making comparative costings.

Laminated partition This type consists of three layers of plasterboard. Timber is only required round the perimeter of the partition and round doorways or other openings. If your ceiling is up to 2600mm (or 8ft 6in) high, a 50mm (2in) thick partition consisting of 13mm (fin) thick wallboards on each side of a 19mm plasterboard plank will be suitable for most domestic purposes. For ceilings up to 3200mm (or 10ft 6in), the partition must be 65tnm thick and consist of three layers of 19mm thick plasterboard plank. However, at this height and using this form of construction, the partition must not exceed 7300mm (or 24ft) in length — this is unlikely to affect the majority of domestic installations.

Edge the partition with 38 x 25mm battens and fix a batten between the floor and ceiling on each side of a door opening, with a head plate between. Finish doorways with a rebated door frame – or with frames built up from plain timber – and position pipe and cable runs, including socket and switch outlet boxes, along the centre line of the partition.

Fix the first layer of plaster wallboard or plank ivory face outwards to one side of the battens. Each 900mm (or 36in) wide wallboard is fixed with three 38mm galvanized nails at the floor and ceiling; for 600nun (or 24in) wide plank, use two nails top and bottom. Apply plasterboard bonding compound to the grey surface of the first layer of board at 300mm (or 12in) intervals, in bands a minimum of 6nun (*in) thick, with a nylon handbrush. The middle layer boards (square-edged with two grey faces) are now pressed into place; starting the middle section with a 150mm (or 6in) wide board will ensure joints between the boards are staggered. Apply more bands of bonding compound to the outer surface of this layer and press the second outer layer into place with the ivory face outwards. Nail these boards top and bottom, as for the first layer. Finally, fill nail holes and finish joints and angles as for tapered-edge plasterboard partitions.

Box-section (Paramount) panel

This easily erected, lightweight partition consists of a cellular core of stiff paper with a layer of plasterboard sheet on each side. This forms a rigid panel unit which is fixed to a simple timber frame to form the partition. The panels are available in thicknesses of 50mm, 57 and 63nun. Use the 50mm panel for ceiling heights up to 2350mm (or 7ft 9in) and the 57mm (or 21in) panel for heights up to 2700mm (or 9ft). These partitions offer fire resistance for half-an-hour; the 63mm (or 21in) panel should be used for partitions up to 3600mm (or 12ft) high.

To fix the 50mm (or 2in) partition, fit 30 x 19mm timber battens to the ceiling and walls where the partition is to run and fit a sole plate of 50 x 19mm (or 2 x 1in) minimum section to the floor. Place the first panel around the ceiling batten so it rests on the sole plate and push it along so one edge engages with the wall batten; use a fine-tooth saw to cut the panel to fit against a wall which is not true. Nail a batten to the sole plate to bridge the joints between panels. Break away the core on the exposed edge of the first panel with a claw hammer and fit a 30 x 37mm joint batten halfway across the joint; this batten is held with nails at 230mm (or 9in) intervals through each side of the panels. Break away the core of the next panel and fit it into place over the other half of the joint batten. Repeat this procedure until the partition is complete.

To fix 57 and 63mm partitions, use 37 x 19mm wall and ceiling battens with 37 x 37mm joint battens. Sole plates should be 57 or 63 x 19mm.

Provide a fixing for a door frame by fitting a joint batten flush with the panel edges. Fix a 19mm batten at the top at each side to a spandrel panel, which fills the gap between the top of the door and the ceiling. Cable runs can be incorporated by using a hollow rod or length of conduit to pierce the core of each panel before installation. Make cut-outs for switch boxes and insert timber plugs on each side of the hole so the box can be secured with screws. Battens can be driven into the core it you need heavy fixings; for light loads use the normal cavity fixings.

Square-edge panels can be butt-joined and finished with plastic, metal or timber joint trims; with tapered-edge panels, make flush joints.

Blockboard

You can easily make lightweight single skin partitions from blockboard and only minimal timber framing is required. It is best to seal vertical joints between boards with timber, plastic or metal strips — or groove the boards along the edges so a plywood or timber tongue can be inserted. Chipboard You can make a more temporary partition, if sound insulation is not a problem, with chipboard panels at least 22mm thick. The panels can be held at the walls and ceiling with an aluminium U-section channel; a timber sole plate is fixed to the floor and the joint is covered with timber skirtings on both sides. Joints between boards are covered with finishing strips — or you can groove the edges to take plywood or asbestos tongues, which are glued into place.

For a more solid single skin partition, extruded boards are available with either solid or, more commonly, hollow cores. These boards are often supplied faced or veneered in a variety of finishes; their long edges are usually grooved for easy fixing.

To fix an extruded chipboard partition, fix timber head and sole plates and battens onto adjacent walls. Position the first board against a wall batten and push it tightly against the head plate by inserting folding wedges onto the sole plate. Fit subsequent panels in the same way and insert softwood tongues along the long edges to ensure tight joints. Fit timber cover strips over the ceiling and floor joints to provide a neat finish.

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