What Is a Wall Plate in Wooden Building Framing?

June 12, 2024

Understanding Wall Plates in Wooden Building Framing

A plate or wall plate is a crucial horizontal, structural, load-bearing member in wooden building framing. Wall plates serve the purpose of distributing loads from the roof or upper floors down to the foundation.

Types of Wall Plates in Timber Framing


Positioned at the bottom of a structure.

Window-Plate (obsolete)

Placed around window openings.

Raising Plate or Top Plate

Located at the top of the wall.


A special heavy timber supporting a wall over an opening, like a lintel. Common in Australia.

Specialized Terminology

Crown Plate

A purlin-like beam in roof framing supported by crown posts.

Purlin Plate

Supports common rafters in the roof framing.

Sole Plate or Sill Plate

At the bottom near the foundation but usually referred to simply as a sole or sill.

Types of Wall Plates in Platform Framing

Sill Plates

Located at the bottom and bolted or strapped securely to the foundation. They hold the house against heavy winds. Methods of fastening include J-bolts, anchor bolts, or newer galvanized strapping techniques.

Lower Wall Plates (Base Plate, Floor Plate, or Bottom Plate)

Positioned at the bottom of wall sections and through nailed to wall studs. Provide the bottom boundary when assembled into a rectangular wall section. On upper stories, these plates are nailed to supporting floor platforms, supported by the lower walls.

Upper Wall Plates (Top Plate or Ceiling Plate)

Fastened along the top of wall studs before lifting the wall into position. The next story’s platform or the ceiling and roof assembly rest on this plate. A second layer of lumber (double top plate) is always added to enhance stability, known as top plating.

Each type of wall plate in both timber and platform framing has a specific role in maintaining the stability and structural soundness of a wooden building. Understanding these components and their functions ensures proper construction techniques and adherence to building codes, essential for the resilience and durability of the structure.

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