Balloon Frame:

  • Earliest wood framing system
  • Constructed exclusively of slender, closely spaced wooden members
  • Joists = Floors
  • Studs = Walls
  • Rafters = Roofs
Balloon Frame (Continued):
  • No more heavy posts
  • One carpenter could move any member used on the job-site
  • No more expensive mortise and tenon joinery required
  • Joints made quickly with nails

“A man and a boy can now attain the same results, with ease, that twenty men could do on an old-fashioned frame… The balloon frame can be put up for forty percent less money than the mortise and tenon frame.” – G.E. Woodward, 1865

Balloon Frame – Explained:
  • Uses full length studs that run continuously for two stories, from foundation to roof.
  • Tall hollow cavities however, act like multiple chimneys in a fire and allow fire to spread rapidly through the building
  • To combat fire, blocking (firestops) are installed at the second floor plate or on walls taller than 10′ (feet).