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Unread 02-10-2022, 11:39 PM   #1
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How Plumb and Flat should my studs be?

Hey guys,

I’m spending tons of time trying to get my studs plumb and flat for durock, then sheet membrane, then tile.

Am I wasting time overdoing it, in that I’m spending the extra time to get my studs perfectly plumb according to my 4ft level?

My bubble is in between the lines of the plumb indicator but not “perfectly” center between the lines.

I want to do a good job so I shim and adjust until it’s perfectly between the lines. Am I wasting my time? Is bubble between the lines good enough?
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Unread 02-11-2022, 06:37 AM   #2
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The best way to determine if your walls are plumb enough for tiling is to tack on the backer to the wall with a few screws on each board and run your level both horizontally and vertically up/down the backer and look to see if any gaps between the backer and the level.

Better to use a 6' level vs a 4' level. Can get one at Harbor Freight for about $20.

I taped a lot of cardboard shims to plumb my walls but it was frustrating because some studs were level horizontally but not vertically, so better to adjust the studs if possible than to shim in my opinion especially if studs installed with screws as mine were. I was able to remove a lot of shims after adjusting the studs. For one stud that was way out of plumb, I and to screw on a "sister" stud to it.

If adjusting the studs not possible for your situation, when you tack on the bottom board, see if any gaps between it and the studs, and if so, put a shim between the board and the stud so that it protrudes up 1 or 2 inches so will be behind the next board installed above it and do the same for each successive board.

Last edited by eagle4x; 02-11-2022 at 07:02 AM.
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Unread 02-11-2022, 06:52 AM   #3
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I always try to get things as close to perfect as possible at the framing stage. It makes everything that follows so much easier.

I pick up a couple of straight pieces of 1 X 4 pine that are long enough to check the whole wall at once vertically and horizontally. They get reused as ledger boards later in the job.
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Unread 02-11-2022, 08:40 AM   #4
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Welcome, Vern,

Yup, it's well worth the time to get them plumb and flat, and as close to both as possible. Far easier to do so now, especially if you plan to use large tile. Use as long a level as you can. You not only want the studs plumb and flat, you also want them to be in the same plane.
If I recall correctly my memory is excellent, but my ability to access it is intermittent.
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Unread 02-11-2022, 08:50 AM   #5
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Almost time I’ve said, “close enough” at the framing stage I’ve regretted it. You won’t be sorry that you spent the extra time. Furring strips, a block plane, composite shims (they don’t split like wood ones) and in extreme cases, sistered studs are your friends. Plumb is important but sometimes flat is even more so, particularly removing or compensating for any humps.
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Unread 02-11-2022, 10:26 AM   #6
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We use Engineered studs for new builds, more expensive but perfectly straight.

Another good option for getting existing studs flat is to use a hand planer
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Unread 02-11-2022, 07:04 PM   #7
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For flat walls, it helps if the top and bottom plates are straight too.

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Unread 03-22-2022, 09:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Vern
I’m spending tons of time trying to get my studs plumb and flat for durock, then sheet membrane, then tile
Vern, it may seem like a waste of time but it is not. Compared to the amount of work it takes to set tile properly on a wonky wall, it’s time well spent.

Here’s what’s worked well for me. Work on one wall at a time. Get/make a straightedge that is just the right length to span from the first to the last stud on the wall. I start by fixing one corner stud perfectly, then the opposite corner of the same wall. As someone else suggested get a six foot level. Once the two ends are plumb, level, and flat, I fill in the others using the straightedge as a guide. Sometimes a sister stud(s) is the easiest way to go. I’ve found that #30 roofing felt cut into long 1-1/2” wide strips is very useful for truing up smaller gaps. The felt can be stacked and layered and is easy to cut and adjust.

By the way, you mentioned durock followed by a sheet membrane. If you are using Kerdi I’d recommend plain drywall instead. Cement board is much more difficult to work with and provides no additional waterproofing protection.
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