Video: Bowed Wall Repair


hand-held circular saw

construction adhesive



metal plate with bite

Hi. This is Nathan Harrison for Fine It’s not unusual at all when doing a remodel to have a situation where you’ve pulled off the wall material, and you’re looking at the exposed studs, the 2 x 4s in the wall, and you realize that you have some very twisted, warped, or bent studs. Now this becomes very important in a situation where you’re going to be putting cabinetry or tile or anything else important that has straight lines in it. Or perhaps it’s going to be in a very conspicuous location, and you want to make sure the wall is flat. And you have a situation like we have here where the material on the opposite side of the wall is not going to come off. Even if it was an exterior wall or just adjoining another room, in most circumstances you wouldn’t pull off the material on the opposite side of the studs unless you were gutting a whole section of the house.

So what can you do? Well, you can use an advanced technique that I’m about to show you to straighten the studs. Now, let me just say that this is not recommended if plaster or any other rigid material is on the opposite side of this wall. It’s important that whatever material is there be able to flex. So, of course sheetrock is ok, and beyond that you’ll just have to make a judgment call based on what is actually there. Sheetrock will definitely flex as much as it will need to to accommodate the straightening of the stud.

So here we have a shower going in in a bath remodel. And when the wallboard was removed, it became clear that we had some crooked studs in very bad position. In truth, it would have been bad anywhere throughout this shower, because tile — depending on the type of tile — really needs straight studs. The larger the tile, the more important it’s going to be that the studs be straight. Before any of the plumbing was run, we had to deal with the framing. In our case, we decided that this was the location that needed to be straightened. We took a hand-held circular saw and cut at about a 45 degree angle. More sharp is actually better. Now you simply decide whether you want the stud to go out or come in. If you want it to go in, it should go in somewhat because you just created open space where there was wood. If you need it to go in further, you can always make a second cut. If you need it to come out, you simply use shims. And I recommend that you put construction adhesive on both sides of your shims, liberally, before you insert them. Once you’ve got the studs straight, in this location as judged by your straight edge and shims, you can then proceed to check other locations. Usually once is enough, but you can certainly do this as many times as you need to to get the studs straight.

Finally we need to make sure the stud is re-secured because we’ve opened it up and to some degree it’s going to be flexible at this point. We need to re-secure it and make sure it is sufficiently strong to handle whatever it need to handle. Now if this is a load bearing wall, you’re going to need to sister this stud with a new stud. A nice straight stud, sistered along side and nailed securely. Otherwise you may still want to use that sistering method. If you can’t though, and it’s not a load bearing wall, you can use a combination of glue, screws — which are easy because of the way we cut. Screws would pass from the front face up into the other side of the cut. You could easily get 2 sound screws up through the joint.

And then finally a metal plate, perhaps a strong-tie type plate that would have a good amount of bite on both ends would be straddled across the front face of the cut and the sides as well for additional strength. This plate in the picture is for protecting plumbing and wiring. You would want one that is designed to be structural, and those are available at your local hardware store.