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The Basics of Framing A Two-Story House

Need help framing a two-story house? These basic tips from our experts will help you begin the process.

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framing refers to process of creating frame

Framing refers to the process of creating a frame, the skeleton on which the other parts of the home will eventually be hung. The frame of the house serves two functions:

It carries the load of the roof down to the foundation so the entire structure is supported.

It provides a weather-tight barrier to protect the inside of the house from the outside elements — rain, ice and other natural elements.

A house frame can be made from many materials, but the most common are wood, concrete and steel.

Because most homes still use lumber for framing, it's important to know the elements involved in wood frame installations:

A wall, which is made up of three parts — 1) top plate, 2) bottom plate and 3) studs.

The top horizontal boards are called "top plates" and the bottom horizontal boards are called "sill plates". The studs are the vertical pieces in a wall frame.

There are also horizontal members that are used to support your floors and ceilings, and these are called "joists".

As the joists, sill plates and studs are nailed together, the house frame will come together one wall at a time. No matter what kind of framing you use — lumber, concrete or steel — you'll need help putting it all together. The person on your home-building team who will provide that help is a framing contractor.

The most important thing in framing a house is, obviously, to find a framing contractor who has been doing this for some time. In most states they're now required to be skilled, as well as trained. And some are certified framers.

Tip: To ensure the best quality during the framing process, have the builder recommend a framing contractor that is licensed and insured.

Keep in mind that with framing — no matter what the medium — precision is of the utmost importance. Remember that the frame is the skeleton of your house and if there are imperfections at this stage they will only cause problems later on.

If the framing is not accurate, all trades that follow — the drywallers, finish carpenters, cabinet hangers, etc. — will have a hard time if the walls are not plumb or if the ceilings and floors are not level.