Illustrated Architecture Dictionary

Balloon framing

During the second half of the 19th century, one of the most important technological developments was the advent of balloon framing, whereby the framework of a house could be made out of uniform lumber; this was becoming increasingly available from commercial mills.

The first frames of this type were made in the early 1830s.

The framing system comprised inexpensive two-by-four-inch boards, combined as upright studs and cross-members and held together by cheap, mass-produced nails.

Eventually, by the turn of the century, balloon framing replaced traditional hewn timber construction and simplified the making of more complex architectural features, such as overhangs, bay windows and towers.

Plank construction (example from Black Rock, Buffalo, NY) for exterior walls was used until the 1830s

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