Framing Basics Print
Written by Steve Schwettman   

There are several details that must be considered before we can begin our wall framing. Understanding these issues before we begin will reduce the chance for problems while we work.

How are the corners joined together?

This is important because it will dictate how we begin and end each wall. There are several standards that can be followed. For garages, the most common standard is the 3-stud corner (some people call it a 4-stud corner). In this application, you begin your wall with 3 studs all nailed together, then you end your wall short of the edge of the foundation. If using 2x4's, end your wall 3.5" short of the corner, if using 2x6, end the wall 5.5" short of the corner. End the wall with a SINGLE stud, don't do the 3 studs again. Now, when you start your next wall, build it with the same 3-stud setup you started your last wall with. When you stand up your second wall, just nail it to the single stud at the end of the previous wall.
There are other more complicated methods of handling the corners, but those are normally reserved for homes where maximum insulation is important. For garages, this type of corner is easy and very strong.

What is the nailing schedule?

In other words, what is the spacing of our nails and what type do we need. Your blueprints should have the nailing schedule stated on them unless it is implied. If the nailing schedule is not present, you should assume the standard for your area which is probably 16" field and 8" edges. That means that nails will be spaced at 16" intervals in the middle of the OSB, and 8" intervals on the edges of the OSB. The nailing schedule on my blueprints was a bit more than that, it said:
     4" O.C. edges
     8" O.C. field
This is twice the norm but typical for my high wind area.

What kind of lumber to use?

Treated or untreated, it depends on where you are using it. Treated lumber needs to be used whenever lumber comes in contact with concrete, so for instance, your sill plate will need to be treated. As far as the size of the number, 2x4, 2x6, or whatever, you should have established that when you placed your foundation anchors. If you didn't, it's now officially too late! But that's okay, you can use a hammer drill to place your anchors properly if you didn't do it when the concrete was wet. If you're using 2x6 lumber, the centerline of your anchors should be 2 3/4" in from the OUTSIDE edge of your foundation. This is so the sill plate sits directly on the outside edge of the foundation, and the OSB sheathing will be past the edge of the foundation. OSB sheathing will soak up water like a sponge if there is something below it for the water to sit on, this will quickly destroy the OSB. For this reason, the bottom of your OSB should be hanging freely and not sitting on concrete or soil.

How far are the wall framing studs supposed to be spaced?

Your blueprints will specify this, typically it's 16" O.C. which means the centerline of the studs are 16" apart. Depending on the construction you may see a number other than 16" O.C. on your blueprints, if so, follow that spacing instead. Most importantly, don't just use any random spacing amount, because then you might find that your studs don't line up with the edges of the OSB sheathing. 16" is the standard because it lines up properly.

What kind of nails?

I needed quite a few different types of nails in order to do the best job possible. I also needed a framing nail gun, which we'll talk about later. Nails for framing nailers are sold in large boxes, which can be a problem if you only need a small number of a certain type of nail. For this reason you might choose to make sacrifices. For instance, any nail that goes into treated lumber is supposed to be galvanized, particularly if it has a chance of being exposed to water. I spent a little more money and used galvanized nails nearly everywhere, that way I didn't need special nails for the treated sill plate.

The nails I used:

8d (also known as 8 penny) galvanzied ring shank - 8d or 8 penny is an ancient nail measuring system that is still used today. 8d nails are 2.5" long.  These were used to fasten the OSB to the 2x6 studs.  You will find that the connection of the OSB to the studs is where most of the strength of the walls comes from, which is why my engineer specified the nail type and nailing pattern. I went beyond the standard 8d nail and used ring shank 8d galvanized nails. They are more resistant to pulling out and shouldn't rust. In fact they are nearly impossible to pull out, so try not to mess up!

16d galvanized - These were used to fasten nearly all of the other framing lumber together. 16d nails are 3.5" long and are ideal for fastening the studs to the sill plate and the top plate.

10d - In a few places, I used 10d nails which are 3" long. This length is ideal for joining two 2x4's or 2x6's together. For instance, when nailing the 3 studs together for the corners I used 10d. I also used them for nailing the double top plates together. They're good anywhere you need to install doubled studs, such as at the joints in the sill plate.

So, three boxes of nails was enough to get the job done for me.

Confused?

If any of the above issues are new to you, as they all were to me, just look at your blueprints for a section that guides you.  Oftentimes you will find all of the above needed information in the nailing schedule of your blueprints. For instance, in the wall framing area of my blueprints, I found the following information:

  • 1/2" OSB
  • 8d Nails
  • 4" O.C. Edges
  • 8" O.C. Field
  • 2x6 Construction @ 16" O.C.
  • Tyvek

As you can see, that one small area of my prints answered nearly all of the above issues.