Remodeling and building homes over the years I have seen all sorts of stud spacing measurements in bearing and non-bearing walls.
How far should we space a framing stud in a bearing wall?
Most plans will give you this information. If you have a structural shear wall the plans will tell you what size of lumber to use at the plywood breaks. The normal spacing on a bearing wall will be 16 inches on center unless otherwise noted on the building plans. This is the most common spacing for studs in a wall.
How far can we space framing studs in a nonbearing wall?
I have seen studs spaced as far as 24 inches on center in a nonbearing wall. Over the years looking at the building code books I have found this to be acceptable for most framing applications. Do not confuse a nonbearing walls with a structural shear walls because there is no weight sitting on the shear wall.
Interior structural shear walls will require 16 inch on center spacing or less depending on the structural engineer and your local building department.
What are the disadvantages of spacing the studs 24 inches on center?
Using half-inch drywall with 24 inch on center stud spacing can give the wall a week or spongy feel. I have been in houses that have 24 inch on center’s stud spacing and can actually push the wall and see it move. Using 5/8 drywall will solve this problem in your walls.
What are the advantages of spacing the studs 24 inches on center?
The only advantage in spacing the studs farther apart is the fact you will be able to save a few dollars on the overall cost of building or remodeling your house. I personally do not recommend this process because the savings is minuscule compared to the overall cost of building the entire house.
If you look on a measuring tape between 19 and 20 inches you will usually find a little diamond. This little diamond is another measurement for laying out eight-foot walls or floors. So instead of using 16 inch on center layout you can use 19 1/4 for stud spacing. This will save you an additional stud in your wall or floor joist every 8 feet.
I have been writing more articles on home construction problems trying to help contractors and homeowners build safer stronger houses.