When framing a house it
helps to plan ahead for the layout of the framing members.
When laying out, how you start will effect every phase of
the project and dictate how you finish.
When starting construction on a new home the first layout
would be for the floor joists. Before I even put a pencil
to the sill plates to mark centers for the joists, I look
at the roof plan. I let the type of roof the house has
dictate what my layout is going to be.
The simplest layout would be for a home with a gable roof.
If this is the case, then the layout of sixteen inch
centers for the floor joists would simply start from the
corner of the building. On the gable ends of the house, the
layout would be started from the center of the building.
The reason for this will be explained later.
When the roof is a hip roof, the layout for my first floor
joist will be where the first common rafter winds up on the
top plate. If the first common rafter is 11'9" to its
center then that is where my layout for my joists will
start. As with a gable roof, the layout on the end of the
building will start from the middle. There is only one
common rafter on the end of the house
and it will be in the center of the wall.
Now that you have laid out your floor joists, this will be
the layout for all other framing components. After the
plywood has been put on the floor joists, the layout for
the exterior walls will follow the floor joist layout. Any
interior bearing walls will also follow this layout.
After the walls have been framed and raised, the next phase
of construction would be ceiling joists (if its a ranch
style home) or second floor joists (if its a two story
home). The layout for these would fall right on top of the
studs in the walls. In the case of the ceiling joists,
these would be nailed on the top plate to the side of the
studs and the rafters would be nailed to the plate over the
This method of framing is called "stacking". All framing
members are stacked on top of each other to transfer the
loads to the foundation and footings.
When framing the gable end of a roof, it is also laid out
from the center. This puts a stud right under the ridge to
give it support. All the walls below it are laid out from
center also, so this support reaches all the way to the
Another reason for stacking the framing members is to
create a chase or bay for mechanicals to go through. This
makes it easier for the plumbers, electricians, and heating
and AC trades to do their job. By using this method in a
two story home, it creates a 14 1/2" space between framing
members from the roof to the basement.
Stacking framing members in this method not only transfers
the weight of the building to the foundation, but also
makes for a structurely sound building. It also keeps the
other trades cutting up of framing members to a
Plan ahead and keep it simple.
Mike Merisko (C) 2006