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Introduction to Framing Basics

The most important part of your shed, next to the shed foundation, is the framing.  Our free article center was formed to help you build, plan, and execute your wood working project as smoothly as possible.


Introduction to Framing Basics
The framing portion of your shed plan project allows you to see the shed plans you've made finally begin to take shape.  There are many ways to frame a shed or barn.  The most common is called stick framing where 2x4 studs from the skeleton of the walls and two-by lumber of various sizes used to support floors and the roof.  It is the method used to build most houses, and most barns and outbuildings for that matter.  But there are other methods.  You can also use a grid of structural poles or try the old fashioned but challenging system of timber framing.

You can construct a utility building or a shed with steel and concrete, adobe, or even straw bales and rebar.  But in most areas--and for barns and other outbuildings--the most common way to build is by framing with wood.  Small sheds are often built like houses, piece by piece, use a system known as stick framing.  With this approach, you can typically install a foundation or footing piers, build a platform of girders and floor joists, and cover the platform with plywood before raising the walls.

The old fashioned way of doing this, called post and beam building or timber framing, uses fewer but larger timbers in the structure.  The heavy timber system, which can require a crane or special rigging to set large beams, is practiced mainly by professional contractors and builders.  Another option called pole framing, is often used on barns because it provides large clear-span areas inside the building.  But poles for a large structure can be heavy and unwieldy, and they require professional installation by someone experience in barn construction.

Stick Framing

Sticking framing refers to two types of construction.  Platform framing consists of a skeletal web of milled two-by lumber that makes up the frame of the floor, walls, ceilings and roof.  Walls are often framed on the deck (made of floor joists and plywood), and then raised into place.  An older method, called balloon framing, doesn't divide the stories into platforms but uses long studs to frame the entire structure.  Mainly because of decline lumber quality, balloon framing is rarely used today.

All of our shed plans in our shed plans package are designed to use standard stick framing that is easy to build and lasts a lifetime.

stick framed shed

A stick frame structure has walls built from 2x4's or 2x6's set on 16 or 24 in. on center.  They are often built on the deck and tipped up into position.  Floors and roofs are framed with heavier lumber.

Timber Framing

Traditional timber or post and beam frames require high quality carpentry work involving classic skills such as shaping mortise and tenon joints that fit without play.  There's also the considerable trouble of either obtaining and moving large timbers into position.  But a well built timber frame is stronger than a stick framed structure shed.  Also, this system has the authentic appeal of an old barn, which you can preserve by leaving the huge posts and beams exposed inside and cladding the structure with prefabricated roofing and siding panels.  A post and beam frame may consist of only a hundred or so individual pieces that make an elegant frame.  But making the complex joints and erecting the frame generally takes much more time and skill than conventional stick framing.

timber framed shed

Timber framing with a small number of large beams was the norm until the 20th century when it gave way to stick framing systems that used two-by milled lumber, generally on 16 in centers.

Pole Framing

A pole building is similar  in many ways to a commercial building made of steel.  A pole framed barn or shed doesn't rest on the ground with a full foundation but hangs from a grid of poles.  Chemically treated poles (or square pressure treated posts) are connected with large timbers or pairs of timbers that are bolted in place  These timbers serve to support floor joists, walls, and rafters, but all of the building loads travel down the poles.  For small buildings, you might use 4x6 posts that are only 10 or 12 feet long.  Larger barns can call for poles the size of telephone poles.  Overall, pole framing is an economical system because it does not require a full foundation and allows for large, open areas with high ceilings.  It is one of the best ways o build on a sloped site.

pole framing shed

Pole framing is especially popular for livestock barns and sheds, which need large, open central spaces.  For smaller projects, pressure treated posts can be substituted for heavy poles.