Cross Bracing Floor Joists
The Cross Bridging of Floor Joists Helps to
Create a Stronger and Stiffer Floor
By Mark J. Donovan
Cross bracing floor joists, or cross
bridging, is commonly done for stiffening up floors. Cross bracing helps to
transfer heavy loads between adjacent floor joists so that vertical deflection
and twisting of them is minimized. Cross bracing floor joists also helps to
prevent squeaky floors. However, it is typically the result of an improperly
installed subfloor, rather than the lack of cross bracing the floor joists, that
is the main cause of squeaky floors.
In older homes cross bracing of floor
joists was typically done by installing 1x3 or 1x4 boards in an X shaped
configuration, center span between floor joists.
Today prefabricated metal cross
braces are commonly used. Cross bracing floor joists should be done prior to the
installation of the subfloor. By doing so, you can make sure that the floor
joists maintain proper spacing over their full spans.
When installing wooden cross braces it is important to take care not to split
the ends of the 1x3 or 1x4s. If they are split when nailing them their strength
is severely reduced.
If your floor joists or sheathing are
constructed out of ACQ treated lumber, then make sure to either use wooden cross
braces or metal ones that are sheathed in a protective ACQ corrosive coating material or
stainless steel ones.
Electricians and plumbers
commonly knock out cross braces when running their wires and pipes along
floor joists bays. Unfortunately more often than not they fail to re-fasten
them back to the floor joists after they are done. So make sure to inspect
the cross braces after the electricians and plumbers have completed their
Solid blocking is an alternative
method to cross bracing flooring joists, and preferred by many carpenters as
it offers more rigidity.
Solid blocking is also commonly
used on the ends of the floor joists. With solid blocking the same
dimensional lumber is used as the floor joists, and the blocking is
installed in between the bays. The blocks are staggered from each other so
that they can be easily nailed to the floor joists. The down side of
installing solid blocking is that they prevent the easy pass-thru of wires,
pipes and duct work through the floor joist bays.
Photo by Mark Donovan
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