When my girlfriend bought her new home, one of the changes she wanted to make was removing the pony wall by the front door. I'd never heard the term pony wall before, so I confirmed what she was referring to. Then I decided to learn more about the term and where these half walls are most often used.
What is a Pony Wall?
So the only way to answer the question was to find some pony walls to measure. Unfortunately the one at Maria's house is gone (see our demolition story). Then I realized I had a pony wall in the kitchen outside my office (shown above). So with my tape measure, here's what I found.
- Ceiling height is 96 inches (8 ft).
- Pony wall height is 42 inches, which is lower than 48 inches or half the ceiling height.
- Kitchen counter is 34 inches high, so the half wall protects eight inches.
A little more research indicates that half walls should be between 36 and 48 inches. If you're building or remodeling, have them frame the wall for 42 inches, and see how you like it.
Once you see where these half walls are used, you'll realize they're everywhere. We simply don't notice these walls because they're below our visual space most of the time.
- Half walls at the top of stairs, used instead of railings.
- Pony wall separating the kitchen/eating nook from the family room.
- Half wall in the bathroom, separating the toilet but leaving visual space open.
- When removing load bearing walls to create an open floor plan, homeowners can save money by building half walls with support columns.
There are lots of things you can do with a half wall. One idea is make the wall play two rolls, both a wall and a bookcase – see my bookcase wall used to separate the eating nook from the family room. Here the back is closed but I've seen open bookcases where homeowners displayed things. Because I wasn't sure if I'd like the half wall, my handyman team built this one so it could be taken off later.
Resources to Help You Build a Half Wall
Building a pony wall is similar to building regular walls with one exception. They're not anchored to the floor joists overhead. That means you have to be more careful about the structural integrity of the wall and it's attachment to the adjoining wall and floor below it. For the pony wall up top, they used three inch screws which is why we needed to remove them with a drill.
- How to Frame a Half Wall at the Top of the Stairs.
- HGTV video showing you How to Build a Pony Wall.
- Great article by a DIY blogger, showing lots of details building her pony wall.