The structural frame of your house rests on the foundation or basement and folds up the floors. Inner walls, and the roof. The majority of homes in the united states are wood framing, but there are some that are brick or block construction. The frame itself, once installed properly, requires little maintenance except to protect the structure from moisture and insects.
Most homes are built with platform framing, which means that the framing starts with a platform of floor joists built over the foundation wall. The joist support the deck and there is usually a beam running down the center of the joists. The posts then rest on the footing and the weight is transferred down the wall supports.
The weight transfer of the structure includes load bearing walls that generally run parallel to the support beam. The exterior walls are the load bearing as well as some interior walls. Other walls are just partition walls to separate off rooms. Do not remove or modify any walls without knowing which are load bearing and which are not, this could result in major damage and danger to anyone working on them. Once the foundation is in place, the floors go in supported by floor joist and subflooring material. Exterior and interior walls support the roof and ceiling structure.
Floor joist can be dimensional lumber or i-joist systems. More recently, i-joist systems have been used because they enable longer spans and have more dimensional stability than lumber. Floor trusses are also an option because the allow longer spans and eliminate the need for a center beam in a floor system.
Flooring covers the floor joist and distributes the load over the whole structure. Before the 1960’s, 1″ x 6″ lumber was used. This was replaced by plywood and recently by oriented strand board (OSB). This is the most common today.
Exterior walls are framed to support the structure, openings for windows and doors and protect the structure from the elements. Exterior walls are generally 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 framing, 16″ on center and braced at the corners and doubled around door openings and window openings. The exterior walls are designed to allow for electrical , plumbing and heating rough in. Exterior walls also support the siding systems and are set up for insulation.
Options for home siding are numerous: brick, stone, wood, aluminum, vinyl, stucco, steel, to name a few. Determine what type of siding you have and research what type of maintenance it requires.
If you have a brick home, it is quite probable that it is not a brick structure, but a brick veneer. If it was built before 1900, then it is possible and that means that the exterior walls are solid brick, several layers thick and supports the home’s framing, and floors. But typical brick homes are are wood framed with a brick siding, or veneer over the top of the framing. This method allows for better insulation. With brick veneer, you need to watch for cracks and movement. One important element involves the steel lintels over the door and window openings. A lintel is a steel angle iron or beam that supports the masonry over the opening. Since window and door frames are not designed to support masonry, the lintel spans the opening and transfers the load to the masonry on either side. The lintel must be maintained to avoid rust. Rust build up can cause the lintel to fail.
Homes in dry, warm climates often have traditional cement stucco siding. Typically, stucco consists of a three-part system applied over rigid sheathing material. A wire mesh is applied over the sheathing. Stucco is generally three coats, base coat, scratch coat and color coat.
Synthetic Stucco or Exterior Insulation Finish System – EIFS
Vinyl and Aluminum Siding
Many homes are covered with aluminum or vinyl siding. This has been popular since the 1990’s. Both types require some maintenance, aluminum and easily be cleaned and even painted if it begins to fade, vinyl maintains it color and does not dent. Just don’t put your barbecue grill to close to the vinyl siding or it could melt it.
Plywood, Wood Siding
Wood siding of all types require routine maintenance. This includes caulking, paint, checking the flashing and the trim and keeping an eye out for any rot. Often the flashing is not installed correctly and rot can develop if you don’t maintain caulk and paint.
Cement board is a fiber and cement panel designed to replace wood siding, panels and trim. It is durable and needs much less maintenance. Periodic caulking at the joints and paint.