APA - The Engineered Wood Association

What is a raised wood floor?

Raised wood floor home by Collier ConstructionA raised wood floor system is an assembly of beams and girders, floor joists, and plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) floor sheathing, all properly sized, connected together and placed on a foundation. A raised wood floor system is designed to elevate the living space off the ground, isolating it from moisture and pests. American homes have been built on raised wood floor systems since Colonial times, and the aesthetic and practical reasons for building a raised home still apply today.

Many terms are frequently used to describe raised floor systems in different regions of the country. Examples include raised wood floor, off-grade floor, pier-and-beam foundation and crawlspace construction. Regardless of the exact term or construction method used, a raised wood floor system provides numerous advantages.

Types of raised wood floor foundation systems

A solid foundation is the most important part of a new home. A raised wood floor can be supported by a variety of foundation types (several are presented below). Always check the local building code for specific foundation requirements. Regardless of the foundation system used, the foundation and the footings must be of adequate size and strength to support the design loads. Once the foundation is in place, a system of beams and girders, floor joists, and plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) floor sheathing, is installed to complete the raised wood floor. View the Raised Wood Floor Foundation Systems Photo Gallery.

pier-and-beam raised wood floor foundation

Pier-and-beam foundation

A builder has several options for constructing piers when building a pier-and-beam foundation. The piers can rest on spot footings or a continuous footing. The placement and spacing of the footings and the piers is determined by the location of load bearing walls and the span capabilities of the floor joists.

stem wall raised wood floor foundation

Stem wall foundation

A continuous foundation wall around the perimeter of the home. It is frequently constructed of reinforced masonry or poured concrete and supported by a continuous, reinforced-concrete footing.

wood stem wall raised wood floor foundation

Wood stem wall foundation

A continuous foundation fabricated of lumber-framed walls sheathed with structural plywood or OSB panels on top of a continuous footing. Wood stem walls reduce concrete costs, simplify leveling and are easily built on site.

wood piles and wood piers raised wood floor foundation

Wood pile and pier foundations

Treated wood piles and wood piers minimize or eliminate the use of concrete altogether. They are popular in coastal areas for acquiring necessary height, but can also be cost effective for raising floors just a few feet. Piles are often used in soils with low-bearing capacity.

Building with wood

Consumption of fossil fuels addociated with three floor designsThroughout history, wood has found favor as a building material due to its strength, economy, workability, beauty and durability. Wood-frame buildings are economical to build, heat and cool, and provide maximum comfort to occupants. Wood construction is readily adaptable to traditional, contemporary and the most cutting-edge building styles. Its architectural possibilities are limitless and its durability spans the centuries. Learn more.

Wood building materials are good for the environment, too. Wood is a renewable, sustainable resource that is manufactured in energy efficient processes that optimize use of renewable energy sources. In fact, in a comparison of fossil fuel consumption associated with the materials for three floor systems – wood, concrete and steel – the wood joist floor required the least amount of fossil fuel energy.

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Raised Wood Floor Case Studies


Raised Wood Floor Construction Case Study

Raised Wood Floors: Case Studies in Progressive Home Construction
More and more builders are benefiting from the competitive advantages of a raised wood floor system. Download this free PDF to learn how.

Case Study: Murray House
This 2-page brochure features the construction of owner/builder Scott Murray's raised wood floor home in St. Augustine, Florida. Download this free PDF to learn how.