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Introduction to House Framing

Western platform style framing is the most widely used method of home construction in the United States. Western platform style framing is a method of erecting the skeletal frame of a house using dimensional lumber, engineered trusses or some combination of the two to build a floor on a foundation and erect framed walls on top of that platform. The roof is then erected over the frame, covered with sheathing and a roof covering. The exterior walls are covered with sheathing and then the home may finished with siding, brick or stone veneer or some combination of the two.

A house built using traditional western platform style framing is built on a foundation over either a basement or crawl space. The same methods of construction are often used for homes built on a concrete slab. The slab just replaces the platform for the first floor and a ranch style home is sometimes called a stick framed building. Of course the second floor if any reverts back to a wood platform concept. The terms stick framed and western platform are for general use more or less interchangeable terms.

With the foundation style construction, the footer is poured and concrete block or a poured concrete wall is built on that footer to bring the house elevation above the yard grade. There may or may not be a short wall section known as a knee wall on top the foundation wall and before the first floor is constructed.

This image shows a home being built in the traditional western platform style of construction. This particular one is built over a basement with poured concrete walls and that knee wall section mentioned is being used to increase the head room in the basement.

The platform of a western platform style home

When slab construction method is used the footer is still there under the slab but you really don't see it. There are actually two different methods of building a slab. One way is to dig and pour a traditional footer, pour short wall section or more common is to the use of concrete blocks to build the walls. There are special purpose L shaped block for the top course and then the slab is poured inside the basin created by the L shaped blocks. When this method is used no concrete form framing need take place. The blocks may be 8 or 12 inches wide depending on whether a brick veneer will be applied or siding used to finish the exterior walls.

The second method is to pour what is called an integral footer. The picture on the left is a wide view and the one on the right is a closeup of the detail.

integral footer and a close up

The perimeter is dug the center is left undisturbed or filled to a few inches below the finished grade. Then the outside walls are framed and the concrete truck pours it all at once. Think of a baking dish turned upside down; the rim is the footer, the exterior sides come straight up, the interior sides are slightly sloped, the bottom of the dish is now the floor of the slab. This method is not generally used for stone or brick veneer homes and may not be an approved method in your area for home construction. It is a handy way to pour a slab for a garage or storage shed.

Whether building on a foundation or on a slab you must wait for the concrete to cure before you start construction. The time will vary according to temperature and local regulations.

More Articles in:  Framing

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