House Framing

House Framing Wall Components

 
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Category Construction Glossary
Construction Dictionary
Construction Articles
Wall framing in house construction includes the vertical and horizontal members of exterior walls and interior
partitions, both of bearing walls and non-bearing walls. These "stick" members, referred to as studs, wall plates
and lintels (headers), serve as a nailing base for all covering material and support the upper floor platforms,
which provide the lateral strength along a wall. The platforms may be the boxed structure of a ceiling and roof, or
the ceiling and floor joists of the story above. The technique is variously referred to colloquially in the building
trades as "stick and frame" or "stick and platform", or "stick and box" as the sticks (studs) give the structure its
vertical support, and the box shaped floor sections with joists contained within length-long post and lintels (more
commonly called 'Headers'), supports the weight of whatever is above, including the next wall up and the roof
above the top story. The platform, also provides the lateral support against wind and holds the stick walls true and
square. Any lower platform supports the weight of the platforms and walls above the level of its component
headers and joists.

Framing lumber should be grade-stamped, and have a moisture content not exceeding 19%.

There are three historically common methods of framing a house. Post and Beam, which is now used only in barn
construction. Balloon framing using a technique suspending floors from the walls was common until the late
1940s, but since that time, platform framing has become the predominant form of house construction. Platform
framing often forms wall sections horizontally on the sub-floor prior to erection, easing positioning of studs and
increasing accuracy while cutting the necessary manpower. The top and bottom plates are end-nailed to each
stud with two nails at least 3 1/4 in. in. length (16d or 16 penny nails). Studs are at least doubled (creating posts)
at openings, the jack stud being cut to receive the lintels(headers) that are placed and end-nailed through the
outer studs.

Wall sheathing, usually a plywood or other laminate, is usually applied to the framing prior to erection, thus
eliminating the need to scaffold, and again increasing speed and cutting manpower needs and expenses. Some
types of exterior sheathing, such as asphalt-impregnated fibreboard, plywood, oriented strand board and
waferboard, will provide adequate bracing to resist lateral loads and keep the wall square, but construction codes
in most jurisdictions will require a stiff plywood sheathing. Others, such as rigid glass-fibre, asphalt-coated
fibreboard, polystyrene or polyurethane board, will not. In this latter case, the wall should be reinforced with a
diagonal wood or metal bracing inset into the studs. In jurisdictions subject to strong wind storms local codes or
state law will generally require both the diagonal wind braces and the stiff exterior sheathing regardless of the
type and kind of outer weather resistant coverings.


Corners
A multiple-stud post made up of at least three studs, or the equivalent, is generally used at exterior corners and
intersections to secure a good tie between adjoining walls and to provide nailing support for the interior finish and
exterior sheathing. Corners and intersections, however, must be framed with at least two studs.

Nailing support for the edges of the ceiling is required at the junction of the wall and ceiling where partitions run
parallel to the ceiling joists. This material is commonly referred to as 'dead wood'.


Exterior wall studs
Wall framing in house construction includes the vertical and horizontal members of exterior walls and interior
partitions. These members, referred to as studs, wall plates and lintels, serve as a nailing base for all covering
material and support the upper floors, ceiling and roof.

Exterior wall studs are the vertical members to which the wall sheathing and cladding are attached.[7] They are
supported on a bottom plate or foundation sill and in turn support the top plate. Studs usually consist of 2 x 4 in.
or 2 x 6 in. lumber and are commonly spaced at 16 in. (400 mm) on centre. This spacing may be changed to 12
in.  or 24 in. on centre depending on the load and the limitations imposed by the type and thickness of the wall
covering used. Wider 2 x 6 in. studs may be used to provide space for more insulation. Insulation beyond that
which can be accommodated within a 3 1/2 in. (89 mm) stud space can also be provided by other means, such as
rigid or semi-rigid insulation or batts between 2 x 2 in.  horizontal furring strips, or rigid or semi-rigid insulation
sheathing to the outside of the studs. The studs are attached to horizontal top and bottom wall plates of 2 in.
lumber that are the same width as the studs.


Interior partitions
Interior partitions supporting floor, ceiling or roof loads are called loadbearing walls; others are called
non-loadbearing or simply partitions. Interior loadbearing walls are framed in the same way as exterior walls.
Studs are usually 2 x 4 in. lumber spaced at 16 in.  on center. This spacing may be changed to 12 in. or 24 in.  
depending on the loads supported and the type and thickness of the wall finish used.

Partitions can be built with 2 x 3 in.  or 2 x 4 in. studs spaced at 16 or 24 in. on centre depending on the type and
thickness of the wall finish used. Where a partition does not contain a swinging door, 2 x 4 in. studs at 16 in.  on
center are sometimes used with the wide face of the stud parallel to the wall. This is usually done only for
partitions enclosing clothes closets or cupboards to save space. Since there is no vertical load to be supported by
partitions, single studs may be used at door openings. The top of the opening may be bridged with a single piece
of 2 in.  lumber the same width as the studs. These members provide a nailing support for wall finish, door frames
and trim.


Lintels (headers)
Lintels (aka headers) are the horizontal members placed over window, door and other openings to carry loads to
the adjoining studs. Lintels are usually constructed of two pieces of 2 in. lumber separated with spacers to the
width of the studs and nailed together to form a single unit. The preferable spacer material is rigid insulation. The
depth of a lintel is determined by the width of the opening and vertical loads supported.


Wall Sections
The complete wall sections are then raised and put in place, temporary braces added and the bottom plates
nailed through the sub floor to the floor framing members. The braces should have their larger dimension on the
vertical and should permit adjustment of the vertical position of the wall.

Once the assembled sections are plumbed, they are nailed together at the corners and intersections. A strip of
polyethylene is often placed between the interior walls and the exterior wall, and above the first top plate of
interior walls before the second top plate is applied to attain continuity of the air barrier when polyethylene is
serving this function.

A second top plate, with joints offset at least one stud space away from the joints in the plate beneath, is then
added. This second top plate usually laps the first plate at the corners and partition intersections and, when
nailed in place, provides an additional tie to the framed walls. Where the second top plate does not lap the plate
immediately underneath at corner and partition intersections, these may be tied with 0.036 in. galvanized steel
plates at least 3 in. wide and 6 in. long, nailed with at least three 2 1/2 in.  nails to each wall.
Wall Components