How To Frame Window Openings
Written by Todd Fratzel.
Framing Window Openings
One of the most basic framing techniques involves framing window and door openings. Understanding the anatomy of a framed window opening will help you properly frame both window and door rough openings.
The adjacent diagram shows a traditionally framed window opening from a recent project. Each of the major components are labeled and described below. It’s worth pointing out that this wall is on the gable side of the building which means there are very minimal vertical loads, hence the small window header.
Window Framing Components
- Double Top Plate – Double top plates are almost always used in today’s modern framing. The double top plate helps evenly distribute the load to the studs below.
- Cripple – Window and door cripples are studs that fill the space above a header and below a sill.
- Header – Headers are a load bearing beam that transfers the load above the opening down to the jacks. Sizes of headers depend on structural loading and capacity.
- King Jack – The King Jack runs adjacent to the jack stud from top plate down to the bottom plate.
- Jack Stud – The Jack Stud transfers the load from the header down to the bottom plate. Depending on the size of the opening a window or door can have a few as one jack stud on either side or multiple jack studs with large openings that carry higher loads.
- Sill – The window sill (sometimes called a saddle) creates the bottom of the window rough opening. The sill varies from single piece to a double piece as shown in this photo. Many builders will use a double sill to improve the width of nailing surface for the window flanges.
- Bottom Plate – The bottom plate is a single piece of framing material that transfers the stud loads down to the foundation.
Doors are framed in the same way as the window shown above without the lower sill and cripples. Obviously there are some small differences depending on local building codes and regional preferences. If you want to learn more about framing a building then I recommend you check out this Book On Framing.
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