How Do I Put Up a Temporary Wall in The Garage? (Step by Step)

If you’ve got a large double garage and want to put a workshop or something similar in one side – but don’t want it there forever – then you’ll need to build a temporary wall.

You can build a temporary wall in the garage by fitting wooden or metal studs, then covering them with 4 foot by 8 foot 1/4 inch plywood or oriented strand boards. You can also add a layer of similar-sized insulation boards underneath if you live in a colder climate.

Let’s dive down into this subject in more detail, and discover why you’d need a temporary wall, how to build one and at what cost, and what materials to use…

How To Put Up a Temporary Wall in The Garage

Why Would I Need a Temporary Wall in The Garage? 

Here’s a crazy sci-fi scenario: a pandemic rages worldwide. To help quell the contagion, businesses shut their doors temporarily, then reopen, but only partially. Concerns about safety keep you from your local gym. You don’t have the space inside your house for a workout and for the equipment, but you do in your garage. 

Trouble is, it’s freezing cold in your garage, and honestly not too inspirational. You need a temporary wall, or two.

Temporary walls are flexible. They allow you to use space you have now, then take them down later. Or maybe you are a renter, and you are required to take them down before moving out. 

Garages can be ideal spaces for an extra room. If you can park your car outside, a large amount of space is freed up. If you have a double garage and only one car, then creating a room makes a lot of sense

You could make a workout room, a hobby room, a he/she/they Cave, or home office. You can have a sawdust-free home for your washer and dryer.

Maybe you don’t need an office, gym or laundry room, but you have lots of DIY building projects. Garages are nice empty spaces, but they may not have enough wall space to store all your tools. Adding two more walls around a workbench can keep your workspace organized.

Here’s a video of a guy building a freestanding wall that’s anchored to his heavy workbench. If he wants to rearrange his garage, workbench and wall can both be moved.

Here are a few things to consider before building a temporary wall in your garage. Garages typically house smelly stuff like gasoline, oil, and chemicals. A temporary wall may not be able to block those smells. 

Also, some house insurance policies will be voided if you build a wall, even a temporary one, that doesn’t have a proper exit. 

Check with your city or county about a building permit. Sometimes, even temporary walls need one. Renters, check with the owners or the management company first.

If you are considering building a temporary wall so someone can live in the garage (temporarily), check out this reference.

What Is The Best Material To Build Temporary Garage Walls?

The best material will depend on your climate. If your garage is freezing cold, you may want to consider insulation. Insulation comes as rigid, 4 foot by 8 foot sheets that you can use as the wall or add to a sheet of plywood. Install the sheet up to the supporting studs, which can be either wood or metal.

If you don’t really need insulation, consider using thin (1/4 inch) plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) instead. Most plywood or OSB sheets are 4 feet by 8 feet. To build the walls, you screw the plywood onto the supporting wood or metal studs. Later, you can unscrew the plywood and use it again for other building projects.

Drywall is a traditional wall covering, and pretty cheap, but check out other wall materials like ship lap, pegboard, corrugated steel panels, hardboard panels, wainscoting panels or aluminum slat wall. 

Wall materials made of wood are better if you need walls for hanging things up. If you live in a damp climate, consider non-wood choices, like fiberglass or plastic, unless you plan to seal the wood.

Wall materials fasten to studs, which can be metal or wood. Wood studs are a traditional, sturdy choice. Instead of using nails, use screws so you can take it apart easily. Interior, non-load bearing walls, like this garage wall, can be made with 2 inch x 4 inch studs for heavy-duty walls or 1 inch x 3 inch studs for light duty walls. Wooden studs are traditionally placed every 16 inches to 24 inches.

Metal studs are sturdy, too, and surprisingly easy to work with. Remember Lego? Metal studs are lighter and fire-resistant. Also, you don’t need to worry about warping. 

Metal studs are screwed in, not nailed. To work with metal studs, you may need just a few new tools: tin snips, C-clamping locking pliers, and sheet-metal locking pliers (aka duckbill pliers). Heavy-duty gloves are good to have when cutting metal.

Metal studs come in a variety of alphabetical shapes – C-shaped, U-shaped, I-shaped, and H-shaped.

Pallets are a cheap – sometimes free – solution. Construct a frame of wood or metal that will fit the size of the pallet, so you can screw it in easily. Most pallets are a standard size of 48 inches by 40 inches. 

Pallets are hollow, so you can stuff in some rolled insulation if you need to. Insulation can help with the temperature but also with noise.

Many people like the rough look of pallet wood, but if you don’t, you can cover the pallet wall with posters, cardboard, butcher paper (for your inner artist), or fabric.

Walls made of fabric, sheet plastic, or a tarp will work fine if you live in a warm climate. Vinyl garage divider curtains are a thing. You can shop online for them. They have clear or colorful vinyl curtains with hanging hardware.

You can construct a frame, or you can engineer a taut wire along the top of the garage to hold a curtain, tarp, or even a shower curtain. Check online for room dividing tracks with hooks. A fabric wall will hide garage messes and protect you from blowing sawdust. 

Fabric won’t help too much with garage smells and don’t forget – it’s flammable. But they can be cute and colorful. Some curtains even have retro car repair shop logos.

Recycled doors make great temporary walls. You can assemble more than one together with stout hinges. Then, the doors can be accordioned with the hinges into a temporary, freestanding wall, like a multi-paneled room partition. If the wall is tippy, consider adding “feet”.

Plasterboard wall in garage

How To Put Up a Cheap Temporary Wall in The Garage

Remember to measure – twice. Most garage slabs are poured with a small slope, so that water will run out the door. If your wall goes up to the garage ceiling, the studs may have different dimensions.

Here, we’ll give steps for a rigid foam board wall, supported by metal studs. This wall will extend between two walls in your garage.

  1. Clear a large area on the garage floor, including sweeping it clean.
  2. Measure and mark where the new wall will go in chalk or pencil on the garage floor. 
  3. Measure the height of the two wall ends – the measurements may be different because of the slope of the garage floor.
  4. Put on some heavy-duty gloves, then cut the two vertical wall end studs with tin snips. Here’s a good reference on how to use and frame with metal studs.
  5. Screw the studs into the walls of the garage. Try to find an existing stud to screw into, otherwise use drywall anchors to attach.
  6. Measure and cut 2 pieces of metal H-channel to fit horizontally along the ceiling and floor. Your H-channel should be the same size as your studs, so they fit snugly inside.
  7. Screw the ceiling H-channel onto the garage ceiling, between the two wall end studs.
  8. Glue the floor H-channel onto the garage floor.
  9. Measure and cut the studs. Most studs are positioned every 16 or 24 inches.
  10. Screw the studs into the H-channel. A clamp to hold the stud in place while you screw it in helps unless you have a helper.
  11. Glue on the rigid foam board. Use a heavy-duty construction adhesive to glue the foam board onto the studs. 
  12. Use a heavy-duty tape, like duct tape, to seal up the seams.

What is The Cheapest Way To Finish a Garage Wall?

We checked online for prices. The cheapest wall was made of drywall and wooden studs

Although 1/2 inch drywall is the cheapest, drywall isn’t very good at insulating, soundproofing or hanging things up from. It is also notorious for mold. If the new garage wall could be splashed with water or you have a humid climate, consider painting the drywall first with latex-based primer, then use a latex exterior paint to seal it.

A 4 foot by 8 foot piece of insulating foam board was $34. A 4 foot by 8 foot piece of 1/2 inch plywood was $47. A 4 x 8 foot piece of wallboard was $50. A 1/2 inch by 4 foot by 8 foot piece of drywall was $13.

Wooden studs can be 2 inches by 4 inches or 1 inch by 3 inches. A 2 inch x 4 inch x 8 foot wooden stud cost $7. A 1 inch x 3 inch x 8 foot wooden stud cost $5

A metal stud, 25-gauge, 3 5/8 inch x 8 feet costs $8

Summary

Twenty years ago my folks put up a temporary wall in their garage, and as the garage was attached to the house it eventually became a permanent part of their living space (with the prerequisite planning permits of course).

That temporary set-up started out as a simple wooden stud wall, which they then insulated later on – but the fundamental structure has now been there for over half my lifetime!

Just shows that when it comes to home renovations – the word ‘temporary’ can mean very different things to different people. 🙂