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Fantastic Framing Tips the Pros Use

Here are some great framing tips that will help you build your walls straight, strong and fast.

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Become a framing hero

Adding an addition to your home or finishing your basement? We’ll show you how to frame walls like a pro.

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Slope window sills with siding

Even if you’re doing your best to follow all of the proper waterproofing best practices, water can still find its way onto the wrong side of a window. It’s a good idea to slope the sill in the rough opening to help unwanted water find its way out again.

You could slope the sill itself, which requires cutting the cripples at a slight angle and causes the sill to protrude a bit on each side. Instead, rip down and install a tapered piece of weather resistant siding. We used cedar. Make sure to frame the rough openings a little larger to account for the width of the siding. Plus: These are the 14 framing mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

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Create a wane sandwich

Face the waned edges toward the center whenever you double up lumber, like when combining a jack and king stud. This will leave more meat on the edges for window, trim or drywall fasteners. Have some leftover 2x4s? This is the perfect project for them.

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Avoid squeaks

Deflection is the bending or sagging that is caused by applied weight, or loading. When someone walks across a floor, “deflection” can cause a squeak where the wood meets the joist/truss hanger. Avoid this irritation by adding a little silicone to the bottom and sides of the hangers before installing them.

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Straightening walls

There are several ways to straighten the top of walls. Here is one method:

  • Attach a long 2X brace to the top of the wall
  • Stack two anchor blocks to attach the brace to (nail to a floor joist/truss)
  • Stack two more blocks to attach the lever board to
  • Nail the lever board to the brace and to the block
  • Pull the top of the lever board forward or back until the wall is in position
  • Nail the end of the brace to the anchor blocks

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Nail the tie plate over studs

Do the electricians, mechanical guys and plumbers a solid by nailing the tie plate to the top plate over the studs only. That way there will be no nails in the way when they have to drill or cut their holes.

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Lay down a mulch path

You never want to create more of a mess than you absolutely have to. A mulch path on muddy job sites helps keep the mud out of the house. Buy the cheapest mulch or woodchips you can find. It can all get graded into the yard when the project is done. Be sure to buy several extra bags to “freshen up” the path every once and a while.

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Avoid snapping long lines

Keep long lines straight by having a guy in the middle hold a finger onto the line somewhere near the middle and snapping each side separately.

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Stack your anchor blocks

Secure wall braces to two anchor blocks instead of one. You will be able to nail the brace a little bit higher and avoid splitting the end. A loose brace could be disastrous, and an additional block is worth the extra few seconds. Always nail anchor blocks to floor joists and trusses.

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Handy framing tool

This V-Line clamp is the perfect tool for snapping lines on plywood. Just clamp it to your mark on the edge of the plywood and hook the end of your chalk line to it. It even works on super sharp angles. It also has a spot to hook your tape measure on, which is nice when you have to measure over from some spot in the middle of the sheet instead of the end. The V-line costs less than $10.

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Offset blocks

When installing blocking on a wall, it’s tempting to snap a line and keep all of the blocks on one plane. But don’t do it. Blocks are easier to install if you stagger them on either side of the line because you can fire the nails almost straight into the ends instead of angling them up or down. And if you think a straight line of blocks looks nicer (for the short time it’s visible), think again. Blocks will rarely be installed perfectly straight, but a staggered line tricks the eye and actually looks more uniform. Did you know you can rebuild your framing nailer yourself? Here’s how.

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Frame interior walls flush with the trusses

If an interior wall that runs parallel with roof trusses gets built too high or too low and drywall nailers are placed right on the top of the wall, the drywall on the lid will bend up or down when it’s fastened to the nailers.

One way to avoid this is to run several braces between the trusses 1-1/2-in. above the bottom of the truss. Then install a 2×8 centered where the top of the wall will be built. When you do build the walls, there will be plenty of wood on either side of the 2×8 to nail the drywall to and you can be confident the drywall will stay in plane with the rest of the trusses.

If you live in the North you’re used to installing a vapor barrier on the inner side of the framing. Another benefit of this method is that you can achieve a true “continuous” vapor barrier on the ceiling if you follow these steps:

  • Set the trusses
  • Install the braces and 2x8s
  • Install the vapor barrier on the ceiling
  • Build the interior walls

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Don’t forget the backers

Before you leave the job, run around and install backers for handrails, bathroom grab bars and other hardware. Take photos and send them to the job supervisor. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and earn you a few bonus points.

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Rounded vs. square lumber

If you have a say in the matter, ask for square edged lumber instead of the rounded edge stuff. Here’s why:

  • Tape measures grab and hold better
  • More accurate measuring
  • Better sight lines for crowning
  • Easier to line up to pencil marks and chalk lines
  • Final product has a more professional look

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Buy pro markers

If you’re a pro, you probably buy professional grade tools. Markers should be no exception. Professional grade markers last much, much longer than standard grade ones. Next, read how to finish a basement yourself here.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by The Family Handyman editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Contact us, here.