Reprinted from Wikipedia

Platform framing

In Canada and the United States, the most common method of light-frame construction for houses and small apartment buildings as well as some small commercial buildings is platform framing.

The framed structure sits atop a concrete (most common) or treated wood foundation. A sill plate is anchored, usually with ‘J’ bolts to the foundation wall. Generally these plates must be pressure treated to keep from rotting. The bottom of the sill plate is raised a minimum 6 inches (150 mm) above the finished grade by the foundation. This again is to prevent the sill-plate from rotting as well as providing a termite barrier.

The floors, walls and roof of a framed structure are created by assembling (using nails) consistently sized framing elements of dimensional lumber (2×4, 2×6, etc.) at regular spacings (12 in, 16 in, and 24 in on center. Sometimes the lesser known -19.2″ on center- method is used), forming stud-bays (wall) or joist-bays (floor). The floors, walls and roof are typically made torsionally stable with the installation of a plywood or composite wood skin referred to as sheathing. Sheathing has very specific nailing requirements (such as size and spacing); these measures allow a known amount of shear force to be resisted by the element. Spacing the framing members properly allows them to align with the edges of standard sheathing. In the past, tongue and groove planks installed diagonally were used as sheathing. Occasionally, wooden or galvanized steel braces are used instead of sheathing. There are also engineered wood panels made for shear and bracing.

The floor, or the platform of the name, is made up of joists (usually 2×6, 2×8, 2×10 or 2×12, depending on the span) that sit on supporting walls, beams or girders. The floor joists are spaced at (12 in, 16 in, and 24 in on center) and covered with a plywood subfloor. In the past, 1x planks set at 45-degrees to the joists were used for the subfloor.

Where the design calls for a framed floor, the resulting platform is where the framer will construct and stand that floor’s walls (interior and exterior load bearing walls and space-dividing, non-load bearing partitions). Additional framed floors and their walls may then be erected to a general maximum of four in wood framed construction. There will be no framed floor in the case of a single-level structure with a concrete floor known as a slab on grade.

Stairs between floors are framed by installing stepped stringers and then placing the horizontal treads and vertical risers.

A framed roof is an assembly of rafters and wall-ties supported by the top story’s walls. Prefabricated and site-built trussed rafters are also used along with the more common stick framing method. Trusses are engineered to redistribute tension away from wall-tie members and the ceiling members. The roof members are covered with sheathing or strapping to form the roof deck for the finish roofing material.

Floor joists can be engineered lumber (trussed, I-joist, etc.), conserving resources with increased rigidity and value. They allow access for runs of plumbing, HVAC, etc. and some forms are pre-manufactured.

Double framing is a style of framing used to reduce heat loss and air infiltration. Two walls are built around the perimeter of the building with a small gap in between. The inner wall carries the structural load of the building and is constructed as described above. The exterior wall is not load bearing and can be constructed using lighter materials. Insulation is installed in the entire space between the outside edge of the exterior wall and the inside edge of the interior wall. The size of the gap depends upon how much insulation is desired. The vapour barrier is installed on the outside of the inner wall, rather than between the studs and drywall of a standard framed structure. This increases its effectiveness as it is not perforated by electrical and plumbing connections.

[edit] Materials

Light-frame materials are most often wood or rectangular steel tubes or C-channels. Wood pieces are typically connected with nails or screws; steel pieces are connected by screws. Preferred species for linear structural members are softwoods such as spruce, pine and fir. Light frame material dimensions range from 38 mm by 89 mm (1.5 in by 3.5 in; i.e., a two-by-four) to 5 cm by 30 cm (two-by-twelve inches) at the cross-section, and lengths ranging from 2.5 m (8.2 ft) for walls to 7 m (23 ft) or more for joists and rafters. Recently, architects have begun experimenting with pre-cut modular aluminum framing to reduce on-site construction costs.

Wall panels built of studs are interrupted by sections that provide rough openings for doors and windows. Openings are typically spanned by a header or lintel that bears the weight of structure above the opening. Headers are usually built to rest on trimmers, also called jacks. Areas around windows are defined by a sill beneath the window, and cripples, which are shorter studs that span the area from the bottom plate to the sill and sometimes from the top of the window to a header, or from a header to a top plate. Diagonal bracings made of wood or steel provide shear (horizontal strength) as do panels of sheeting nailed to studs, sills and headers.

Light-gauge metal stud framing

Wall sections usually include a bottom plate which is secured to the structure of a floor, and one, or more often two top plates that tie walls together and provide a bearing for structures above the wall. Wood or steel floor frames usually include a rim joist around the perimeter of a system of floor joists, and often include bridging material near the center of a span to prevent lateral buckling of the spanning members. In two-story construction, openings are left in the floor system for a stairwell, in which stair risers and treads are most often attached to squared faces cut into sloping stair stringers.

Interior wall coverings in light-frame construction typically include wallboard, lath and plaster or decorative wood paneling.

Exterior finishes for walls and ceilings often include plywood or composite sheathing, brick or stone veneers, and various stucco finishes. Cavities between studs, usually placed 40–60 cm (16–24 in) apart, are usually filled with insulation materials, such as fiberglass batting, or cellulose filling sometimes made of recycled newsprint treated with boron additives for fire prevention and vermin control.

In natural building, straw bales, cob and adobe may be used for both exterior and interior walls. The part of a structural building that goes diagonally across a wall is called a T-bar. It stops the walls from collapsing in gusty winds.


Roofs are usually built to provide a sloping surface intended to shed rain or snow, with slopes ranging from 1 cm of rise per 15 cm (less than an inch per linear foot) of rafter length, to steep slopes of more than 2 cm per cm (two feet per foot) of rafter length. A light-frame structure built mostly inside sloping walls comprising a roof is called an A-frame.

Roofs are most often[citation needed] covered with shingles made of asphalt, fiberglass and small gravel coating, but a wide range of materials are used. Molten tar is often used to waterproof flatter roofs, but newer materials include rubber and synthetic materials. Steel panels are popular roof coverings in some areas, preferred for their durability. Slate or tile roofs offer more historic coverings for light-frame roofs.

Light-frame methods allow easy construction of unique roof designs. Hip roofs, which slope toward walls on all sides and are joined at hip rafters that span from corners to a ridge. Valleys are formed when two sloping roof sections drain toward each other. Dormers are small areas in which vertical walls interrupt a roof line, and which are topped off by slopes at usually right angles to a main roof section. Gables are formed when a length-wise section of sloping roof ends to form a triangular wall section. Clerestories are formed by an interruption along the slope of a roof where a short vertical wall connects it to another roof section. Flat roofs, which usually include at least a nominal slope to shed water, are often surrounded by parapet walls with openings (called scuppers) to allow water to drain out. Sloping crickets are built into roofs to direct water away from areas of poor drainage, such as behind a chimney at the bottom of a sloping section.

[edit] Structure

Light-frame buildings are often erected on monolithic concrete slab foundations that serve both as a floor and as a support for the structure. Other light-frame buildings are built over a crawlspace or a basement, with wood or steel joists used to span between foundation walls, usually constructed of poured concrete or concrete blocks.

Engineered components are commonly used to form floor, ceiling and roof structures in place of solid wood. I-joists (closed-web trusses) are often made from laminated woods, most often chipped poplar wood, in panels as thin as 1 cm (0.4 in), glued between horizontally laminated members of less than 4 cm by 4 cm (two-by-twos), to span distances of as much as 9 m (30 ft). Open web trussed joists and rafters are often formed of 4 cm by 9 cm (two-by-four [sic]) wood members to provide support for floors, roofing systems and ceiling finishes.