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Framing Exterior Walls With Ease

Home Building Mentor Framing Exterior Walls

Framing exterior walls is an exciting part of home building. You really begin to see your new home take shape. Step-by-Step: Framing Exterior Walls

Framing a wall is a relatively straight-forward process. The pieces are: bottom plate (sometimes called sill plate); upper plate; top plate; studs; cripples; headers, and header blocks. The bottom plate is the board that will rest on the floor and support the wall framing, which is attached to it. This board is usually a pressure treated board.

The upper plate is the board that the top end of the studs attach to.

The studs are the full length boards that attach to the bottom and upper plate and which determine how tall the wall is.

The cripples are boards that are cut shorter than full length to support some feature in the wall.

A header is an assembly of boards that span across and carry the load across an opening.

Header blocks are short boards that rest on top of the header and support the upper plate of the wall.

Framing Exterior Walls and Assembling a Wall Section

Home Building Mentor

When framing exterior walls and assembling a wall section, the process is a little different depending upon the order of construction and where the wall will be. In a corner, the first wall section needs to have an assembly of boards at the end to provide deadwood (something to nail to) for the wall covering.

When placing layout marks, use a “v” with the point of the “v” dead on the measurement.

STEP 1: Select a bottom plate board and an upper plate board and cut the longer of the two to the exact length of the shorter of the two.

STEP 2: Set the pair of boards in place on the floor, running along the area where the wall will be, on edge together.

STEP 3: Layout the pair by hooking your tape measure on the exterior end.

Framing Exterior Walls

STEP 4: Make a “v” at every 16” point. IE: 16, 32, 48, etc. Always place a board on the every end of each wall section (to join subsequent wall sections together) unless there is a door or window that falls across the section end. home building

STEP 5: If this is the first wall in the corner, make a “v” at 1.5, 3 & 4.5 inches. If this wall section will butt into a previous wall section, just install a single stud on the end of the plate pair.

STEP 6: When framing exterior walls, if there are windows or doors in the wall section, measure over to the center of the opening.

STEP 7: From the center point of the feature, measure over half the “rough opening dimension” to each side of center and make a “v” mark.

STEP 8: Measure across the full width between the two marks to be sure the “rough opening dimension” is correct.

STEP 9: Beside the two “v” marks, measure over 1.5 & 3 inches farther away from center, on both sides, and make “v” marks.

STEP 10: Repeat the process for additional features when framing exterior walls. If a feature encompasses the end of the wall section and into another, select and cut the second pair of plate boards and butt them against the first. Place the center layout mark and measure back onto the wall section you are building now. STEP 11: After all features are indicated, use a square and mark lines across the boards at the “v” marks. If feature marks conflict with the 16” layout marks, just draw the feature lines. A feature board being in place of a regular stud will do just fine.

STEP 11:

STEP 12: Position the wall pieces in place where the layout marks indicate.

STEP 13: Move the upper plate to the other end of the wall pieces.

STEP 14: Nail the bottom ends of all the members to the bottom plate. Nail thru the bottom plate into the pieces. Use two nails per board.

STEP 15: Nail the top ends of all the studs to the upper plate. Nail thru the upper plate into the pieces. Use two nails per board.

STEP 16: Nail the cripples to the studs. Keep the edges even and flush.

STEP 17: Build the headers, if any when framing exterior walls. The headers will be 3” longer than the rough opening dimension, and will rest on top of the cripples. Use 2x10 or 2x12 lumber for headers, and cut two boards to length.

STEP 18: Cut a piece of OSB or ½” plywood slightly shorter and narrower than the header boards.

STEP 19: Position the plywood piece between the two boards and nail everything together. Flip it over and nail again.

STEP 20: Place the header where it goes and nail thru the full length stud on each end into the header.

STEP 21: Measure the length from the top of the header to the bottom of the upper plate at the end of header, not the middle.

STEP 22: Cut as many header blocks as the layout indicates. (the header blocks will continue the 16” center layout).

STEP 23: If there are any windows, you must build the window bottoms when framing exterior walls. Measure down from the bottom of the header the length indicated by the rough opening dimension, on each side of the opening and make a “v”.

STEP 24: Measure down from these marks an additional 3 inches and make “v” marks.

STEP 25: Measure up from the top of the bottom plate to these marks and cut two boards to this length.

STEP 26: Nail these two boards beside the two cripples and to the bottom plate.

STEP 27: Measure across the opening width and cut two boards to this length. (this length will be 3 inches shorter than the header).

STEP 28: Nail one of the two boards in place across the opening, nailing into the tops of the two short cripples.

STEP 29: Cut as many remaining short cripples for under the cross boards as the 16” layout indicates.

STEP 30: Nail these short boards in place, nailing thru the bottom plate and thru the window cross board into each board.

STEP 31: Nail the second window cross board in place on top of the first cross board, nailing into the first board and toe nailing into the cripple on each end.


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