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Framing

Overview

 

wood frame of home additionFraming, or "rough carpentry," is the basic building skill of new construction and almost every remodeling addition project. This section explains the basics of wood framing.

Lumber is by far the most popular construction framing material because it's readily available, easy to work with, and comparatively less expensive than other framing materials. Douglas fir, pine and hemlock are some species frequently used to make framing lumber.

Materials such as steel, brick and concrete are also used to frame. These materials can support more weight than wood framing, but are generally more costly and require special equipment and skilled professionals.

 

Building Codes

Building codes have a lot to say about framing, because incorrect framing or the use of the wrong materials can have a dramatic effect on the structural integrity of a building and lead to a potentially dangerous situation. Where building is regulated by code, any framing project will require a permit.

Codes regulate, among other things, the following:

  • ceiling heights
  • the height of dropped interior soffits
  • the size of door openings
  • the width of hallways
  • construction of stairways
  • maximum percentage of a wall that can be glass

In addition to building codes, you must also find out what local fire codes require for a minimum window exit in bedrooms and other habitable rooms.

For work done under a permit, a framing inspection will be required. It is your responsibility to arrange for it. Work that does not meet code can be ordered ripped out.

DOING WORK WITHOUT A PERMIT IS NOT ONLY ILLEGAL, BUT MAY ALSO INVALIDATE YOUR HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE.

 


 

Construction Basics

floor joistBy itself a single piece of framing is rather weak. It's only strong when connected to the other framing pieces. For this reason, we use the term framing "member" throughout this project.

For example, four framed walls are still unstable until the roof trusses or second-story subfloor are tied in on top. That's why extra bracing is needed to support walls during the framing process.

When you begin a framing project, it's critical that framing start out being plumb, level and square. If the wall framing ends up crooked, the finished wall will be crooked.

Check each wall with a stringline from corner to corner at varying heights. If a wall stud or two are warped or not flush, replace or adjust them. Check the floors for level and give them a bounce to check for squeaks or needed bracing.

It's common sense, but if framed joints look tight, feel solid, and members run true, the house will finish out better and be more structurally sound.

We've listed the basic framing members and their definitions to help you along with the terms and jargon used throughout this project in Framing Glossary.


Types Of Framing

We'll focused on Platform Framing. It's the most common type used in residential construction. The subfloor sets on the foundation walls and functions as a platform for the wall framing to set on.

Balloon Framing, used from the mid-1800s to the 1940s, isn't commonly used anymore because the wall studs run the entire height of a two-story house -- from the sill to the second-floor top plate. Today, lumber that strong and long just isn't readily available. Also, balloon framing needs firestopping to prevent fires from traveling from floor to floor through the stud cavity. Platform Framing automatically accomplishes this.

Post-and-Beam Framing utilizes notched sill beams that run on top of the foundation perimeter. Subfloor joists set in the beam notches. A series of long vertical posts are set 6' to 8' apart and notched to support a second-floor subfloor plate.

Framing Tools List

  • Framing square
  • Speed square
  • Framing hammer (20 oz)
  • Carpenter's level
  • Chalkline
  • 25 ft. tape measure
  • Plumb bob
  • Sledgehammer
  • Circular saw
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Ladders
  • Scaffolding

Consider renting a pneumatic nailer if you have a sizable framing project. They cost around $150 per week and are a lot faster than a hammer.

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