How to Build a Wooden Frame House

Written by cheryl a. frost
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How to Build a Wooden Frame House
You can build your own hobby house. (nails image by patsherry from

Wooden frame houses are structured basically the same whether they are real houses, dollhouses, sheds, playhouses or houses made out of Popsicle sticks. With the exception of concrete foundation houses, most wooden frame houses start with a pier (or post) and beam base. How complex the design is depends on the function of the house and the need of the builder. This procedure could apply to a craft house--something made of sticks or balsa--or it could apply to a dollhouse, a child-sized playhouse or a small shed.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Piers (at least 4)
  • Wood beams
  • Wood glue (for craft projects only)
  • Nails (for dollhouses, playhouses and sheds)
  • Hammer (for larger projects)

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  1. 1

    Purchase or make piers. Piers, as they relate to the construction of a building, are square or rectangular supports for the beam base of a building. On a real house, piers are used to lift the house off the ground to avoid termites or rotting. Because these instructions apply mostly to a hobby-oriented house, you would use piers as a way to stabilise your construction.

    For a large playhouse or a shed, you can buy pier blocks at Lowe's or Home Depot or a local lumberyard. For a smaller craft model, create blocks with cross-shaped recesses carved into the top. These can be made either by carving them out of a small chunk of wood or by moulding a piece of hard, dry clay, both of which can be found at a hobby shop like Michaels (see Resources).

  2. 2

    Lay out the piers in the shape of the foundation; commonly, a square or rectangle is used. For small, simple wooden houses, you will only need four piers, one for each corner. If your house is larger and needs more support, add piers to the edges, too.

  3. 3

    Lay the beams horizontally to form a square. Rest the ends of the beams in the recesses of the piers. For sheds and playhouses, purchase full-sized beams from a lumberyard. For wooden craft houses, use beam-shaped balsawood or something similar. You can buy balsawood at any craft shop. The shops generally also sell knives and scissors to cut the wood.

  4. 4

    Construct the floor. Cut out even pieces of board and lay them across the beam floor frame until the entire floor area is covered. Secure the boards with nails (large house) or wood glue (craft house, let dry).

  5. 5

    Construct and attach the walls. Create four walls by first building a square wooden frame. Cut out even-sized pieces of board and lay them across the wall frame just like you did with the floor. Attach them to the frame with nails or glue. Repeat for the remaining walls. Lift each wall upright and secure to the floor with nails or glue. Note that for larger buildings, you'll want to add extra wooden support or bracing, but for craft projects just concentrate on visual appeal.

  6. 6

    Construct and attach the roof. Make the roof by constructing trusses. Trusses are triangular-shaped wooden framing. Model roofs and craft roofs imitate those of real houses, which typically have triangular or slanted roofs to help water run off. Make your trusses by laying out three evenly sized pieces of board in a triangular shape and attach the ends with either nails (big project) or glue (small house). If you want more bracing for your trusses, attach more boards to each triangle you make. Just make sure you attach them from one end to another end and not from one end to a corner. Once you've made enough trusses to make your wooden house sturdy--two for a craft house and at least four for anything bigger than a dollhouse--attach them to the top of the walls (crosswise). Secure boards horizontally over the two outer angles of the trusses to close the roof. To make the roof more realistic looking, either paint it black or cover it with shingles. For smaller craft houses, cut out little squares of black paper and attach them to the roof like shingles.

Tips and warnings

  • Note that this procedure does not apply to foundation houses or log cabins, which are constructed a little differently.
  • These instructions cover the wooden structure of a craft house and are not meant to be construction plans for a liveable home. They are merely for your interest, entertainment and understanding.

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