How to Straighten Bowed Stud Walls

Minor tweaks make a major difference in the finished wall

Introduction

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.

Tools Required

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

Materials Required

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

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 to make straight studs, 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.

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

Make bowed studs straight again: Check for bowed stud problems

Lay a long straightedge across the studs to find studs bowed more than 1/8 in.

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Step 2

Plane a bowed stud

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. Hold the straightedge vertically along the stud and mark the bow. Shave off the bow with a power plane to make straight studs.

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Step 3

Replace a bowed stud

FH13NOV_PTDEMO_11Family Handyman

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. This will make straight studs.

Step 4

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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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