What is all this stuff?

Every trade and profession has its own unique jargon and inside language. This makes communicating within that group more precise and quicker. But it generally has the effect of making things more confusing for those outside the group.

Construction is no different. Even within the broad construction field, the various trades can struggle to understand each other. On top of unique terms for each trade, there are also regional differences in the terms that get used as well.

Today, we are going to try to make sense of the structural framing that makes up your home. This will help you increase your understanding and make needed repairs easier to understand.

Let’s start with the walls.

Almost everyone is familiar with a stud. These are the vertical pieces of wood in the wall that run from the floor to the ceiling. They give the drywall and siding something to hang onto and hold the roof or floor above in the air.

If you took the drywall off a wall, you would find a board laying horizontally under the studs; that’s the bottom plate. At the top of the wall, two boards will likely lay horizontally. Those are known as the top plate. Over a door, window, or larger opening, there will probably be some larger boards that make up something called a header. These bigger boards support the load that would have gone to the removed studs to make the opening.

Around these openings, there are different names for the other jobs or locations for a stud, but that is for another day.

Under the floor, you have a different set of framing.

Typically, under the exterior walls, you will find two boards sitting upright, known as the band. Various other names can be applied to this area, such as a rim joist, a rim band (that typically means there are no joists attached to it), or a sill. A still is a board that lays flat under the band and should be pressure-treated, which protects the actual band from moisture.

The joists are all the boards holding up the house’s flooring. They tie into the band and then tie into or sit on a girder. The girder is a beam of sorts made up of many boards that support the joists. The joists are sometimes called drop sills when the joists sit on top of them, at least in the Southeast.

This is a photo of a band with little joists.

This is an under or drop girder with some joists.