DIY framing: Don't forget the blocking, nailers, and fire-stopping

Posted by Jeffrey Anderson ~ December 7, 2012

Framing a room addition or finished basement is just about the ultimate in DIY home improvement jobs. You now have justification for all those new power tools on your shelves and another project notch can be added to that tool belt that's beginning to show some wear. You can even go to the hardware store with sawdust in your hair and sporting a band-aid or two that DIYers so proudly wear.

However, as you stand back to admire how straight the walls studs appear and the alignment of the headers, don't forget a framing detail that many DIYers often overlook. The job isn't complete until all the blocking, nailers, and fire-stopping components are in place.

A quick guide to blocking, nailers, and fire-stopping

What is one of the signs of a good framing job? If you ask a trim carpenter, sheetrock contractor, or building inspector, they might say it's whether all the blocking, nailers, and fire-stopping are in the correct locations. What exactly are these framing components and how do you know where they're supposed to go? Here's a guide that should answer those questions:

ceiling nailer

Nailers are often needed at the end of a ceiling.

  • Blocking. Have you ever had trouble locating a stud while attempting to hang a picture? If so, that's a perfect example of why blocking can be so important to a trim carpenter. Blocks are pieces of lumber installed prior to sheetrock to provide adequate support for fixtures and hardware that may be installed later. An experienced framer usually nails in blocking for wall cabinets, handrail brackets, and bath hardware once the room framing is complete. A good rule of thumb is: if you know something is going to be hung on a wall sometime in the future, make sure blocking is there to help carry the weight.
  • Nailers.  These framing components are appropriately named as their function is to provide a nailing anchor for sheetrock, paneling, or any other type of finish material. Installing wall studs at 16-inch centers and ceiling joists every 24 inches provides adequate nailing surfaces in most areas of a room. However, every so often measurements don't quite work out and the end of a sheetrock board is left to dangle -- usually at the end of a wall or ceiling. Installing a nailer to support the end of the board takes care of the problem and you've made your sheetrock contractor's job much easier.

sheetrock nailer

Nailers provide a nailing surface for sheetrock.

  • Fire-stopping. One of the keys to avoiding a total loss in the event of a fire is to slow down the flames until the fire department arrives. The fire-stopping done with lumber during the framing stage of construction is designed to close-off avenues a fire can use to quickly spread. Fire-stopping is normally done at chases that contain ductwork or plumbing and between floor levels. Codes vary by jurisdiction so check with your local building inspector to find out where fire-stopping should be installed on your project.

Installing blocking, nailers, and fire-stopping properly can make the rest of your project much easier. Also, you now have a few more framing terms that can be casually dropped into conversations at your local home improvement store.

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