For many people, buying a house is one of the most significant steps in their lives. It’s an important part of building their future and settling down.

Other people want to build their houses from the ground up. To them, there’s no point living in a place that someone else has owned. They’d rather build a space that exactly meets their needs.

If you’re leaning towards building your own home, you’ll need to know how to frame a house. The basics of house framing aren’t hard to understand, but they’re essential if you want to build a sturdy dream home that will last for years to come.

What is house framing?

The frame is essentially the house’s skeleton — it holds up all the wall coverings and outer plaster and creates the general structure of your home. House framing relies on a sturdy foundation and proper site prep before framing can begin.

The most common material used for framing houses is wood. The reason for this is because wood is often more affordable than other materials like steel, concrete, and brick. Plus, it’s easy to find. You can frame a house in materials besides wood, but your framing costs may go up depending on what you choose.

A look at different types of house framing

You might think that house framing is monolithic — just some wood put together to build a house. But there are different ways to frame a house. Here are some common house framing methods:

Balloon framing

This framing method was popular from the 1800s to the mid-1900s. Builders used balloon framing to build two-story houses. It was a cheap and efficient way to get homes built quickly.

In balloon framing, long pieces of wood are nailed to the foundation of the house to form the wall studs. These studs extend up to the second story of the house. Due to its simplicity, this was a quick method for house framing.

However, balloon framing fell out of fashion when the tall trees used to create these extra-long studs became harder to find.

Balloon framing also comes with a higher risk of fire. Because studs run all the way from the ground up to the house’s second story, fire can spread more quickly.

In some cases, you might need to use balloon framing for a specific area of your home. Always check with your contractor or another professional to see if this is the best house framing method for your needs.

Platform framing is the most common method of house framing used today.

Platform framing

After balloon framing became harder to accomplish, platform framing took over as the most common way to frame a house. And it’s still the most common type of framing today.

Like balloon framing, platform framing uses wood for building. However, the difference is that platform framing uses short pieces of lumber. Platform framing also allows each story of the house to be built individually.

Also, because platform framing uses shorter lumber pieces, fires won’t spread as quickly, and it tends to be more affordable because you end up using less wood to construct the frame.

Timber framing

One of the oldest house framing methods, timber framing, is still used for some builds today. This method is sometimes also called “post-and-beam construction” and has been around for centuries.

Timber framing was common prior to the industrial revolution and doesn’t rely on nails or screws to hold the frame together. Instead, a timber frame is made of interlocking posts and beams. This is accomplished through complex and detailed mortise and tenon joinery.

If you want to build a timber frame house, be prepared to spend top dollar. Timber framing is expensive because you need very specific pieces of wood to create the posts and beams, which may be harder to come by.

You’ll also need to hire a highly skilled carpenter to ensure your posts and beams fit together properly. Timber framing is one of the sturdiest house framing methods, but the high cost can put people off.

How much does it cost to frame a house?

How much it costs to frame a house depends on several factors, including the size of the home you’re building, how complex your design is, and what materials you’re using to frame your house. According to data from Angi, the average cost to frame a house is $23,000 and can range between $18,500 and $27,500. This works out to between $7 and $16 per square foot.

Want more detailed cost breakdowns for different types of house framing projects? We’ve got a full guide to tell you everything you need to know — check it out here: What Does It Cost To Frame A House In 2024?

How long does it take to frame a house?

Again, this will vary depending on how large your house is, among other factors. Plus, you’ll need to complete any necessary prep work before starting to frame your house. These preparations can include clearing trees and rocks from the lot, grading the land, and pouring your foundation. These steps can take a few weeks to complete before you even get to framing.

The house framing process itself will also take a few weeks to complete. 

Time to build your dream home

A floor plan to help visualize how to frame a house

Now that you know the basics of house framing, it’s time to start planning your build. If you need some help planning out building a new house, My Site Plan can help. At My Site Plan, we specialize in creating site plans to help you prepare for your home building and renovation projects. We can help you draft a site plan of your property or a provisional floor plan to help you prepare to frame your house.

Ready to start building the home of your dreams? Get in touch with My Site Plan to get started. 

House framing FAQs

What are the pros and cons of using timber framing over platform framing for a new house?

Timber framing offers superior durability and aesthetic appeal due to its intricate wooden joinery, making it a good choice for those seeking a unique, sturdy structure. However, it is more expensive and can be limited by the availability of specialized lumber and skilled labor.

Platform framing, on the other hand, is more cost-effective, quicker to construct, and reduces fire risks due to its use of shorter lumber pieces, making it a practical choice for many homeowners.

How can I determine the best house framing method for my specific location and climate?

The choice of house framing method can depend on several factors including local climate conditions, availability of materials, and local building codes. Consulting with a local architect or builder who understands the environmental demands and regulatory requirements of your area can help you choose the most suitable framing method for your home.

What should I consider when selecting a builder for my house framing needs?

When selecting a builder for house framing, consider their experience with the specific type of framing you're interested in, their reputation in the industry, the quality of past projects, and their ability to communicate and work within your budget and timeline. Verifying their licensing and insurance is crucial to ensure they are qualified to handle your project.

Are there environmentally friendly options for house framing materials?

Yes, there are several environmentally friendly options for house framing, such as using sustainably sourced wood, recycled steel, or engineered wood products. These materials not only help reduce the environmental impact but can also provide durability and resistance against various elements depending on the material chosen.

What are some common challenges in house framing, and how can they be mitigated?

Common challenges in house framing include managing costs, ensuring structural integrity, and meeting local building codes. These can be mitigated by thorough planning, employing experienced builders, and conducting ongoing inspections during construction to ensure that everything is implemented according to the design and regulatory standards.

This post was originally published on 2021-04-06 by Ryan Crownholm. It was updated on 2024-07-03 to reflect the most recent information.