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Understanding House Framing

Construction How-To, Framing August 5, 2008 Sonia


When viewing a framed house before the wall coverings are installed, the building often seems complicated and to some, a daunting project. House framing actually consists of several separate “projects” assembled into one to create the finished home. Taken in that context, house or building framing is not all that difficult. With today’s advances in air tools, such as framing nailers, you don’t even have to be an experienced hammer swinger to frame a house. It is a good idea, however, for the inexperienced to begin with a small, simple construction, rather than a two story, complex design. A garage or garden shed is a good example. In most instances you will be constructing from building plans, and that’s definitely the easiest for the inexperienced. Make sure you follow all specs and elevation drawings.

A building is basically framed in sections and the sections joined together.

The most common framing material is wood, but metal framing is becoming more popular. Metal may be desired in some areas and may be a code regulation in other areas as well. Regardless of the type of construction, make sure you check with local building authorities as to regulations pertaining to construction and framing, as well as to obtain any needed permits.


Two types of construction are used, balloon and platform, with platform being the most common.


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Two methods are used in standard wood house or “stick” framing—balloon or platform—and both have advantages and disadvantages. Balloon framing is sometimes used with two-story buildings. In balloon framing the studs extend as one, from the sill to the top plate of the second story. The second story floor joists are supported by a ribbon board set into the studs. This type of construction is the most difficult, but does provide unobstructed openings between the floors allowing for easy installation of utilities without notching and cutting openings. Fire stops must, however, be installed at the second story floor level between the studs.

First step is to lay the sole plate for slab construction, or sill plate for a foundation/floor, against the anchor bolts, mark their location and bore the holes.

Platform framing can be used for either single or two-story and is the easier and most common method of construction. Fire stops are automatically created with this type of construction. Constructing a single-story is the easiest, a two-story or split level is harder. Platform framing is easier than balloon framing because you can construct and erect the second story walls on the second story floors.

Wall construction on a concrete slab is anchored to the slab with anchor bolts through the wall sole plate.

Either construction can be done on a concrete slab or on a foundation. The slab acts as a floor; a foundation requires a floor to first be constructed. Then the walls are framed on the floor (or slab) and raised in place.