What is balloon framing?
Balloon framing is a type of framing that was popular around the turn of the century before modern building techniques and technologies came into the construction industry.
Balloon framing is when the walls of the home are constructed with stud walls that start at the foundation of the home (the first floor) and run continuously up vertically until they meet the roof framing. This can mean that the studs that run vertically are one piece and could be 20 feet long with no breaks or joints.
The modern way to build walls are to construct with wood studs that are tall enough to make the ceiling height, then the floor is framed on top of these studs. Then you frame the stud walls on top of that framed floor until you reach the roof. The roof framing sits on top of the second story walls.
Balloon framing with it’s one piece studs running up to the roof framing are constructed first, then the floors are built after it, you attached the floor joist for the 1st and 2nd floor framing to the side of the one piece studs, usually they are just nailed to the side of the studs.
In balloon framing they never used headers over windows or doors; this is because most of the weight was transferred straight to the foundation from the roof through the one piece studs. Older homes were typically built with small openings to minimize the risk of having too much weight above the opening with the lack of headers. If you see larger openings that are original to an older home then they typically have the windows built into the home so that they help transfer weight through them.
Balloon framed walls usually are re-enforced with 1 inch wood material nailed to the inside of the alls and also to the outside of the building. This is because they didn’t have or use plywood at the time. Walls where then covered with lath and plaster, with all of this material it usually reduced the amount of movement in the walls to a minimum.
When renovating a home with balloon framing you have to be very careful that you support the weight of what’s above if you plan to make a bigger opening and have to install a header.
The best thing to do is to hire a professional to do the work so that nobody gets hurt or you don’t permanently damage a part of the home.
Village Builders Inc.