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House Framing Terminology 101

Construction framing is the process of attaching building materials together to create a structure, like a house, office or apartment. Framing is an important building element, because it must be energy efficient and strong enough to withstand outside forces such as wind, snow, earthquakes, gravity, people and more.

You can start learning house framing terminology to become familiar with all pieces of the structure. If you’re learning construction and building skills, you may have encountered some of these framing terms already. See how well you know important terms involved in building walls, floors and windows.

Wall Framing Terminology

  • Plates are horizontal boards in a wall connected by studs. A top plate is located at the top of the wall panel, while a bottom plate is located at the bottom of the wall panel.
  • Studs are vertical 2×4 boards in a wall that connect the top plate with the bottom plate. Builders use studs when they construct walls, doors and windows.
  • Headers are horizontal boards used to transfer loads to trimmers (which are also called “jack studs” or short studs around a window or door). Headers are installed over a window or door opening.

Floor Framing Terminology

  • Joists are horizontal boards in a floor. Like studs, they are spaced at equal distances. Joists make up the platform to which wall panels are affixed.
  • Header brand joists connect joists together by wrapping around the joists. They provide stability.
  • Subflooring rests on the joists. It is the bottommost layer and acts as the foundation beneath the finished flooring material, such as hardwood, carpet or tile. Subflooring is usually made from plywood.
  • Girders are the main horizontal supports. Girders hold and stabilize the joists.

Window and Door Framing Terminology

  • A sill or saddle is installed under a window. The window rests on the sill or saddle for support.
  • Cripples are vertical boards that support the sill or saddle and the window itself.
  • Trimmers are also called “jack studs.” They are installed vertically from the header to the sill. Trimmers help transfer the load that the header carries.

Want to Learn Construction and Building Skills?

It may sound complicated, but construction framing is manageable when builders take it step by step. If you’re passionate about working with your hands and learning practical skills, the Construction and Building Skills Program at Apex might be the right path for you.

Our program teaches students framing terminology as well as electrical, plumbing and kitchen and bath remodeling skills. Ready to learn more? Contact us today! Classes are starting soon.


*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.