3 Secrets of Wood Frame Construction

Not All Homes Are Created Equal

We’re documenting a house construction using masonry walls, but a large portion of the US uses wood framing.

Here are some lesser-known secrets of wood frame construction to consider and watch out for when building your wood frame home.

1. Consider Size & Type Of Wood Framing

Wood studs come in a large variety of sizes and wood species.  Each of these is a factor in determining the strength of the final product.

In this house, 2 X 6 Southern Yellow Pine wood studs are used for the framing.  This is in an area of Georgia that does get high winds, so 2 X 6 was chosen to strengthen walls.

2 X 4 Framing is also used in parts of the US, and 2 X 8 framing could also be used as a stronger alternative when larger wind, gravity, and uplift forces are to be considered.


2. Wood Beams and Columns

Other factors in considering the strength and finished product of a wood frame house are

  • The spacing of the framing
  • Species & grade of wood material
  • Connections used
  • Build-up of wood studs to form columns
  • The selection of materials for beams.

In this example, a Microllam LVL Beam (ICC ESR 1382) was built-up to span over windows & door openings to hold the second-floor and roof loads above.

3. What's Your Wood Sheathing?

Wood sheathing plays an important role in the strength of wood-framed houses.

Besides providing a wall surface for strength, sheathing keeps walls standing straight. Wall sheathing also locks in framing connections to provide a minimal amount of uplift resistance, extra gravity support, and additional wind resistance.

In this example, ‘OSB‘ type plywood is used, which is made up of glued together wood chips.  This material has the potential of weakening when wet so waterproofing is essential.

True plywood has more strength in every direction and resistance against moisture.  It’s a stronger, but more costly alternative.

In cases where the sheathing isn’t enough to handle high winds, strapping must be used as seen in our technical corner below.

As an alternative to plywood, Huber’s ZIP System® Wall Sheathing … can be used with includes waterproofing membrane with the wall and roof sheathing. Joints are taped with Huber’s Flashing Tape to provide the air and water seal. 

Plywood & OSB framed houses are wrapped with products such as TYPAR in photo 2. TYPAR can be purchased in small quantities for projects like sheds & AHU‘s by clicking here

Huber ZIP  wall sheathing
TYPAR wood framing moisture wrapping


More information on the wood framing. Press photos to zoom in.

The size & spacing of nails adds strength to wood-framed buildings. 

These nails attach CDX plywood to wood studs at corners 

to provide support in all directions.

Microllam beams sit atop built-up wood columns to provide support. This column is nailed to the beam above to provide minimal uplift support. High wind straps are used in more critical designs as seen in the below technical plan.

Technical Corner - Plan Tutorial

The Engineering Behind The Plan

Learn to read the construction plans

Plan Page: Wood Framed Wall Elevation

The Engineering Behind The Plan, explained: This plan represents a typical wood framed wall for high wind and high uplift conditions. Design professionals determine whether high-wind connectors & straps are needed to secure the frame & specify installation for every location.

The size & spacing of vertical wall studs, headers, and top plates are determined by the maximum possible weight they need to hold in every direction. 

A Look Ahead

Windows & doors are fastened to the wood framing per manufacturer’s specifications to provide the wind resistance needed. 

Energy efficiency is calculated based on size of openings & types of glass.  Air conditioning & heating is calculated based on volume of interior space less energy loss from these openings.

Once wood-framed houses are dried-in, a wall finishing is applied like this vinyl wall siding.

The entire house is caulked, painted, and finished to provide a completed exterior structure as the interior is then constructed.

Windows are also rated for structural & energy performance.  That’s covered more in our Window Section.

This window has a WDMA & NFRC certification.

WDMA NFRC window label

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