Canadian Contractor

Dave Gray   

Get Inline framing style is jobsite and energy efficient

Renovation Contractor

It wasn’t until I was able to work for and learn from a great, conscientious carpenter and custom homebuilder, John Rose of J.W. Rose Carpentry, did I realize the way I was originally taught was definitely not the best.

When I started in the trades, my first job was with a framing crew that was subbed out by a spec builder. It was always go, go, go, in an effort to move on to the next house. As most new framers know, the more time it takes you to construct a house the less money you make. However, with this mindset, quality, among other things, seems to slip. It wasn’t until I was able to work for and learn from a great, conscientious carpenter and custom homebuilder, John Rose of J.W. Rose Carpentry, did I realize the way I was originally taught was definitely not the best. It was these lessons I learned from Rose that I took moving forward with my own contracting company and teaching career.

When it comes to framing, one of the first lessons I learned was about inline framing. Quite simply, it is the alignment of floor joists, wall studs, and roof rafters stacked one on top of the other. Not only is this important on exterior load bearing walls, but also on interior partitions as well. This is not a new concept in framing and it really doesn’t take much thought to achieve this alignment. But I have seen many jobs that don’t take this into consideration. With my first job it was just 16″ and go. It didn’t matter much what wall or floor we were working on. Now, this is one of the first things I notice when I go on jobsites. Did the framers take alignment in to consideration? Did they care enough to construct with members inline?

In order to attain the alignment of inline framing I was taught to quite simply start my layout for each structural component from the same corner of the house. I would be able to more easily line up the members without too much thought. When going through the framing process, wherever you start your floor layout on the mud sill is where you will start your layout on the wall plates and again for your rafter layout.


This type of framing is advantageous for a few reasons. First, the transfer of loads is more efficient with this type of framing. With all structures, the transfer of loads through the connected members will end up displacing in undisturbed soil. The path that load travels is more direct with inline framing when the members that are connected are stacked over top of one another. Both live and dead loads on the structure will travel through the roof system, wall system, floor system and, eventually, through the foundation and footings in a direct line.

Secondly, this concept of keeping the members inline is also beneficial for the other trades that follow the carpenters. If we adopt this type of framing for interior partitions it allows mechanical trades spacing in the walls to easily get their components from the utility room to the first or even the second floor without having to worry about whether or not there will be a wall stud or floor joist blocking its path. This also means less back framing for the carpenters after the sub trades have completed their rough-ins. HVAC installers and plumbers will have ample room to make turns in the duct work and piping knowing that the paths required will not be blocked. This also makes life easier for drywall installers. Not having to guess where joists and studs are makes for a quicker and easier job.

Finally, this type of inline framing is the mindset required and the steppingstone for advanced framing. Advanced framing takes this concept to the next level by building a more efficient and cost-effective home. Advanced framing also has many advantages. This type of framing tries to minimize the amount of structural members by increasing on-centre spacing. On-centre spacing is increased to 24 inches from the standard 16 inches. By doing so, there is less material required to construct your home. Thermal bridging through the members is reduced and more room for insulation is created in exterior walls making for a more efficient home. Another key component is that double top plates are reduced to single top plates because the structural components are inline. However, this type of framing requires more consideration during the design process. Green builders are using this type of framing, not necessarily for the cost savings but more for the other benefits, namely energy efficiency and material conservation. Advanced framing is not possible without framing members being inline.

I’ve learned many concepts throughout my career, from many good carpenters, and continue to do so, but this idea of inline framing has stuck with me for many years. Inline framing is not a difficult concept to adopt but I believe it is the best way to frame your structures. The benefits far outweigh the amount of time it takes to figure this out on site. The more you use this type of framing mindset the more it becomes second nature.


Stories continue below