How to Straighten Bowed Stud Walls

Minor tweaks make a major difference in the finished wall

One bowed stud can make a whole wall look bad. Before you hang the drywall, fix badly warped studs so that the finished wall will look straight and true.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Make bowed studs straight again

Drywall will follow the contour of the studs, so if they’re bowed or out of alignment, you’ll end up with a wavy wall. And if your drywall contractor has to fix the problem, you can bet that you’ll get an extra charge.

You have a couple of options here, depending on how many studs are bowed and how badly they’re bowed. Start by placing a long straightedge horizontally across your framed wall (Photo 1). Mark any studs that are out of alignment. The studs should be within 1/8 in. of each other. Anything more will be noticeable in the finished wall.

Option 1: If only a few studs have minor outward bows, a power planer will quickly solve the problem. Simply plane the bowed studs until they’re flush with adjacent studs (Photo 2).

Option 2: For minor inward bows, simply knock the stud out and replace it or turn it around and plane off the bow. If you can’t remove it, nail a long, straight 1x2 or 1x3 to the side of the stud.

Option 3: If you have a few severely bowed-out studs that are more than 1/2 in. out of alignment, make a series of 1-3/4-in.-deep kerfs (saw cuts) every 8 to 10 in. in the bowed area with a circular saw. Toenail a 16d nail through each kerf. As you nail, the cuts will close and the board will straighten. To reinforce the cut studs, screw scrap 1-in. lumber alongside the cuts, making sure the scraps don’t protrude past the edge of the stud.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Cordless drill
  • Level
  • Straightedge
  • Hammer
  • Circular saw
  • Block plane

If you have more than one stud to plane, you may need a power plane.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • 2 x 4s (to replace badly warped studs)
  • 1 x 3s (for inward bows)
  • 16d framing nails
  • 2-1/2-in. screws