The framing of a house provides the structure that gives a home its shape. It also provides the outer shell for the exterior coverings.
The most common building material used to frame a house is wood. It’s strong, readily available, inexpensive, and extremely versatile. However, there are different methods used to construct the wood framing. Selecting the best framing option for your home involves evaluating upfront construction costs and long-term expenses, along with each method's strengths and weaknesses.
Rough Framing Techniques
Most buildings, both residential and commercial, are built around a frame that provides the structure and support for the building. Framing typically falls into two categories: heavy framing and light framing. Light (or stick) framing is used in the majority of residential buildings.
There are 3 main methods that construction workers use when building a home. Each of these techniques of wood framing has its pros and cons.
1. Balloon Framing
The balloon method involves long, wooden wall studs running the complete height of a two-story home. A sill is anchored to the foundation to secure the joists for the floor and wall studs.
The one weakness of balloon framing is the fire risk. With uninsulated wall cavities that run the entire height of the building, fire can spread quickly.
To mitigate the fire hazard, code regulations mandate that fire-stopping material get installed at the stud cavities to prohibit the travel of fire between floors. Balloon frame houses should be retrofitted with insulation and fire blocking between stories to retard the spread of fires within the home.
2. Platform Framing
Platform framing, also referred to as stick framing, is the most common method of framing in residential construction. The builder creates a frame using uniform-sized lumber pieces such as 2-by-4s. Using sheets of plywood, the builder creates sheathing over the wall area before carrying it to the floor areas and erecting it.
Load-bearing walls receive support from the structure’s beams, while parallel or perpendicular rafter joists secure other walls. Platform frames can be built without the use of scaffolding because each story is constructed on top of the previous one. This results in much easier and faster construction.
3. Timber Framing
Timber framing, also known as post-and-beam construction, is the oldest known form of wood construction. A timber frame structure can last centuries due to its strength and stability. It is a form of heavy framing because of the heavy timber beams used instead of lumber cut to a standardized dimension.
This method consists of vertically arranging hand-cut wood pieces connected using wood joints and pegs. Timber frames generally stay exposed, adding a visual architectural element. Rooms in homes with timber framing often have vaulted ceilings and spacious, open floor plans. The wood used in timber framing is larger than the standard two-by-four.
There are some drawbacks to timber framing. Due to the limited quantity of large pieces of wood in certain locations, the materials can be more expensive. Timber framing also requires a master craftsman to build and make the perfectly matching joints required to secure a timber frame structure properly.