- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 08 Jul 2018
Balloon framing is a form of timber construction that was commonly used to build houses in the United States and Canada from the late-19th century to the mid-20th century. It was often incorporated in the Queen Anne style and Shingle style architecture of the period.
This technique was popular at a time when long timbers were readily available, but it was gradually replaced by platform timber framing, in which each storey is formed by floor-to-ceiling timber panels and a floor deck which then becomes the platform for constructing the next storey. The central difference between balloon and platform framing is that the studs in a balloon frame extend from the foundation to the rafters, whereas in a platform frame, the studs are independent on each storey.
One of the primary problems with balloon framing, aside from the availability of long timbers, was that, by creating continuous spans free of any separation, fire could spread easily. Indeed, fires were common in balloon framed houses. Platform framing enabled a fire break to be included between each floor.
In terms of existing balloon frame houses, fire safety can be improved by adding fire-stopping to the walls, particularly in the breaks at each storey. However, this can be a difficult and time-consuming process, as the interior walls or exterior siding need to be removed to allow access to the stud top plates to add the fire-separating element.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Advantages and disadvantages of timber frame buildings.
- Delivering sustainable low energy housing with softwood timber frame.
- Fire-stopping in buildings.
- Queen Anne style.
- Shingle style architecture.
- The use of timber in construction.
- Timber frame.
- Timber framed buildings and fire.
- Types of frame.
- Types of timber.
Featured articles and news
RIBA launches a consultation on a new Plan of Work for Fire Safety.
This article offers some basic rules to follow when writing your next specification.
The iconic Mackintosh Building will definitely be rebuilt, board chairwoman confirms.
The machinery used to fashion stone has changed dramatically - and so have the products.
This type of pile provides support to the building, as well as acting as a heat source and a heat sink.
Why investors are adopting the SDGs and why civil engineering could be crucial for delivering them.
Read about all the winners from the London ceremony of CIAT's 2018 Architectural Technology Awards.
How do you find the right stone to conserve historic buildings?
Appointment agreements often include a ‘scope of services’ setting out the consultant's performance on a project.
BSRIA study shows an increase of pre-terminated fibre connectivity.
Director of PiP Architecture explores the application of biophilic design principles.