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How to Frame a House

House framing

The process of framing a house is of utmost importance if you want your house to be of good quality and if you want it to last long. Framing is, as its name refers, the process of creating a frame of the house, the basis of any building. It supports all the elements of the house, first of all the roof. The most popular construction framing material is lumber, especially Douglas fir, pine and hemlock. Lumber is recommendable because it’s readily available, easy to work with, and not as expensive as other framing materials, such as steel, brick and concrete. They also require special equipment and skilled professionals, and this is the reason why they are less used even though they support more weight than wood framing.

Before you begin any house framing work, you have to check the building codes which regulate ceiling heights, the height of dropped interior soffits, the size of door openings, the width of hallways, construction of stairways, and the maximum percentage of glass on the wall. Following these regulations will mean correct framing of your house and prevention of danger caused by insecure construction. You have to check everything before you start cutting materials.

Types of house framing

There are different types of house framing.  The most common type for building two- and three-story houses is platform framing, usual for residential construction. The subfloor sets on the foundation walls and functions as a platform to set on the wall framing.

The type of framing used for two-story houses from the mid-1800s to the 1940s is balloon framing, however it’s not used anymore because you can hardly find strong enough lumber for the wall studs to run the entire height of a two-story house – from the sill to the second-floor top plate.  Just like platform method it can be built on either concrete slab or a foundation.

Post-and-beam framing utilizes notched sill beams that run on top of the foundation perimeter. Subfloor joists set in the beam notches. Long vertical posts are set 6′ to 8′ apart and notched to support a second-floor subfloor plate.

Whichever technique you use, you will need the following in order to frame your house: framing square, speed square, framing hammer (20 oz) or a pneumatic nailer, carpenter’s level, chalkline, 25 ft. tape measure, plumb bob, sledgehammer, circular saw, reciprocating saw, ladders, and scaffolding.

These are the elements of a frame: the wall, made up of three parts – top plate (the top horizontal boards), bottom plate or sill plates (the bottom horizontal boards) and studs (the vertical pieces). There are also joists, horizontal members that support the floors and ceilings.

You have to remember that a piece of framing is strong only when connected to other pieces of framing, so four framed walls will be unstable until the roof or second-story subfloor get to the top. Also, if you don’t want crooked walls or the ceilings and floors that are not level, you have to be precise and make sure that framing starts plumb, level and square.

Use extra bracing to support the walls while framing your house. Use a stringline to check the walls and plumb them by using a level. Replace the wall studs if needed. Make sure the top and bottom plates are the same size, put them together and mark places for studs, windows and doors on both of them.

When you finish the first floor side and end walls, you can begin the construction of the second floor by securing the floor joists to the top plates of the first floor walls. And after you complete the second level walls, you can proceed to the third floor or put the roof on the structure.  The pre-manufactured roof trusses will make framing a lot easier for you, just follow the truss manufacturer’s specifications for securing them.

Whether you’re building a new house, or renovating you surely want the structure to be sound and lasting. The platform framing is a light frame construction which makes this possible with minimal cost and minimal structural material. Just make sure you do it right.

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