DIY Network

Components of a House Frame

Host Jeff Wilson offers information about the different components that make up a house frame.

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components of a house frame

What Makes Up a House Frame?

Not all wood is the same, and since most house frames use wood as the primary component, it's important to learn more about this versatile material. Primarily most of the lumber that's available through either lumber yards or home centers today is graded one or better, two or better or three or better.

Number One graded lumber is the best wood you can get for your home. The quality of the wood decreases as the grade number increases, but keep in mind that grade one lumber will cost more than grade two or three. Also know that number one grade wood will have fewer knots and less shrinkage.

DIY Construction Advice: Don't cut costs on framing lumber. Using a lower-grade lumber for your frame can cause problems later. Use the best grade lumber you can afford.

More often today in home building, engineered lumber is being used in the framing process. There have been many advantages in the adaptation of engineered lumber, and it allows contractors to build a more dynamic house type than they were able to build in the past.

Engineered lumber is typically a composite of both lumber byproducts and engineered woods applied together for various uses. They can be used for floor joists in stead of solid dimensional lumber, and they aren't as impacted by the size and growth of trees.

This composite lumber comes in forms of beams, and sometimes floor joists will be engineered lumber in the form of wooden I-beams.

Framing Begins

Once the lumber has been purchased, the framing can begin, and it starts with the construction process — the foundation.

Typically a house is started from the foundation up. After the foundation is poured, a sill (like a pressure-treated material) is set on top of the foundation. This basically runs the perimeter of the house. A house frame for a single-story home will be made up of a sill, joists and studs.

There are three basic elements that are joined together to form the skeleton on which the rest of the home will eventually rest:

  • The sill plate is the first portion of framing that sits right on top of the concrete. That's the part that needs to be drilled for anchor bolts, and it attaches to the concrete foundation. The sill plate on the concrete is usually a pressure treated piece of wood that prevents rot, bug infestation and water damage.

  • Once the sill plates have been anchored to the foundation, then you begin to lay out the studs. Studs are what the vertical walls are — the normal walls of the house that are spaced to accommodate windows and doors, where joists sit on top of plates that are on top of the studs.

  • If you're framing a floor or ceiling, you'll need horizontal pieces called joists in your house frame. A joist is a horizontal member that sits on top of walls and supports floors or roofing.

Home Building Advice: Now that you're at the framing stage, more and more people will be working on your home, and keeping up with everything is a challenge. Meeting with your builder, architect and sub-contractors on a regular basis can help stay on top of things.

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