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Framing A Wall Under Ductwork: 5-Step Guide

Most of us rely on professionals to wall frame our ductwork. However, this is something you can do on your own. You don’t need to spend hefty bucks on hiring professionals. 

Thinking of framing a wall under ductwork yourself?  

To do so, firstly measure your ductwork for the dimensions of the frame. Based on the dimensions, start making wooden ladders as the frame. The ladders need to be made on the ground with appropriate adjustment. Once done, attach them to the ductwork with nails or screws.

Nevertheless, there are a few more aspects to this process. This is why we’ll tell you everything you need to know about framing ductwork.

Interested? Then keep reading!

Step-by-Step Guideline To Frame Around Ductwork

Working with walls can seem daunting to many. Whether it’s working on slab and foundation wall gaps or framing a wall for ductwork. We’ve segmented the framing method into several steps to make it easier for you.

But before you begin, spend some time picturing the final framing. Mentally walk through where the drywall would attach to the wall and ceiling if you were to install it. Then carry out the following steps.-

Required Materials 

In order to complete this tutorial, you will be needing a few tools. These are-

  • 2×2” framing lumber
  • Tape measure
  • Table or circular saw
  • Screws – size #7 or #8 (optional)
  • Framing nails
  • Drill (optional)
  • Speed square
  • Hammer
  • Drywall

Got your tools ready? Great! Let’s jump into the tutorial!

Step 1: Measure The Ductwork

Determine the size of the frame you’ll need by measuring the duct. For this step, you’ll need a tape measure.

Make sure you’re measuring it the right way. But luckily, you don’t need to follow every dent and corner for the measurements. Use an average line to measure it. Just like when insulating ductwork in the basement.

Always leave about 1&12” between the frame and the duct for clearance.

Step 2: Start Making Ladders

Begin by constructing soffit ladders on the ground using 2x2s. A top plate, bottom plate, and rungs to connect the two should be included in these “ladders”. 

On either side of the duct, these will be fastened to the ceiling. Make sure to use the most straight wood you can find. That way it will give a smoother finishing.

For the top and bottom plates, cut four 2x2s the length of the duct. Then you can cut out as many 2x2s you need for the rungs (space them 24” apart).

Step 3: Assemble Ladder 

It’s time to assemble all of the ladder components. Make a long rectangle and start by nailing two end rungs to the long 2’s. After that, put in the interior rails. Using a speed square to guarantee that the structure is square is crucial.

Make sure the wooden panels are level as well. You should also make sure that their intersections with the “ladder” section of the walls are square. It’s fine if it’s a tad off; perfection isn’t required, but the closer the better.

Otherwise, the completed product would be tilted and unappealing. Plus no one wants their finished work looking unappealing like an expired grout sealer.

Step 4: Attach Rest Of The Components

You now have two ladders that will construct the bulkhead’s sides. The two bottom plates must be attached to complete the frame. 

To fit across the bottom of the two ladder parts, mark a few 2x2s. It should be spaced to the duct’s size plus 1″ on each side for clearance. Begin by fastening the end pieces first, then the inside components. In the same way, as you did in the previous phase.

As you install the cross-beams, use clamps to pull the ladder parts into alignment. While you secure the components with screws, the clamps will keep them perfectly in place.

Step 5: Attach The Frame 

Place the completed frame around the duct by lifting it up. As the entire frame would be too huge and heavy to lift, you will require assistance. 

Nail or screw the top plates into the ceiling joists to keep them in place. But make sure to maintain safety during woodworking. This is an essential tip for a newbie woodworker. 

As a newbie, you may also use some screws. That way you can simply change things if needed. But they need to be of good quality to hold up nicely. 

For that reason, here are a few screws you can try:

Product 1
Product 2

These screws will hold up the frame tightly. They’ll also make it easy for you to make minor adjustments if necessary. Once you are done screwing them, cover them with drywall to complete the project.

It’s done! You may build a wall over any ducting by following these steps. 

2 Mistakes To Avoid When Framing Ductwork

Making mistakes during framing can cause a lot of problems. Wavy walls and creaky flooring can be caused by minor framing errors. 

More major errors can expose a home to dangerous weather conditions. It is best to avoid these errors in the first place-

Don’t Nail Through Plywood

Nail into the floor joists/trusses below while fastening the bottom plates of walls to the floor. The plywood is nailed through to keep the wall from sliding side to side. 

But if the wall is not also fastened to the floor joists/trusses, it may lift when the roof system expands and contracts.

Design Beforehand

Throughout the flight of stairs, the highest riser (step) height cannot be more than 3/8 inch higher than the shortest riser height. The finished floor heights are included in those dimensions. 

This is why modelling up and planning for the final finished floor heights beforehand is important. You can later start performing the arithmetic and putting out the stair stringers.

All clear? Now just get the tools and start working on your project!


Question: Is it safe to drill into ductwork?

Answer: A screw inserted into a duct should do no harm. Most sheet metal ducting pieces are joined by sheet metal screws. It’s best to use a plastic anchor and screw it straight into a 9/64th drill bit hole. Use screws of size #7 or #8.

Question: How far does framing need to be from ductwork?

Answer: To determine how far the framing needs to be you need to measure the ductwork. Always leave about 1&12” between the frame and the duct for flexibility.

Question: Can you make exposed ductwork look good?

Answer: Covering your ductwork is the best way to conceal them. Nonetheless, by painting them, you may still make them appear nice. Use the same color as your wall to paint the ductwork. That way, it won’t draw much attention.


Now you know exactly what to do for framing a wall under ductwork. Be it your home, workplace, or anywhere else you can conceal ductwork no problem!

Good luck doing the job!