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RE: Cripple wall stud length

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Hello Ralph,


I don’t think it has any code basis but some inspectors around here let people get by with sheathing both sides of the cripple wall when it is less than 14” – I don’t agree with that but it seems to be somewhat common around here.


Its probably semantics, but I have always assumed that the 14” applied to the total ht of the cripple wall, not the studs as you implied, so the studs really are limited to 14” minus 4 ½” (thickness of single bottom plate and double top plate) or 9 ½” cripple studs, max.


When I used to frame, I found the most economical way to do it was use (2) 1 ¼” LSL, 1.3E – least expensive and easily ripped to any dimension less than 14” on the job site table saw, then you turn that into a “box beam” each piece flush to the outside of the wall or plate, so if its in a 2x6 wall you don’t have to furr anything out.  I have never figured it out but this is probably not much more expensive than framing a pony wall, and I don’t think it takes much longer, but the biggest drawback of this method is that it is hard to compensate for undulating concrete!  Its much easier to get a level top plate if you measure each cripple stud and cut it, but usually the concrete isn’t that bad.


Sorry I don’t know the history of the limitation except the obvious stud splitting concerns but this may be a economical, viable solution that doesn’t violate the code.


Truitt Vance, P.E. – Central Coast of CA


From: Rhkratzse(--nospam--at) [mailto:Rhkratzse(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2007 9:19 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Cripple wall stud length



I've been curious for a long time about the reason for the UBC limitation [2320.11.5] on stud length in cripple walls.  [I'm not familiar with the IBC, but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't have a similar limitation.]  Studs are required to be 14" minimum length, or solid blocking must be used.  I understand that there may be concerns about splitting of very short (e.g. 3") studs, but it seems to me that sometimes it might be more desirable to use larger, short studs -- say 4x4 x 12" tall -- rather than a solid horizontal member.  Less shrinkage, less wood, less cost, etc.  Yes, of course we could use manufactured wood, but that's expensive and from an engineering point of view may not be necessary.

Does anyone know the reason for this 14" limitation, its history, and/or whether it is ever considered acceptable to violate it in certain circumstances?


Ralph Hueston Kratz, S.E.
Richmond CA USA

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