Where Do You Want the Blocking?
Five tradesmen weigh in on where to put solid blocking for stair skirts, grab-bar anchors, and everything else the code leaves out.
Synopsis: Code-required blocking is one thing, but many builders would say tell you that there’s plenty of helpful blocking not required by code. Veteran tradesmen Ed Cunha, Myron R. Ferguson, Mike Guertin, Gary M. Katz, and Clifford Popejoy outline the not-code-required blocking they like to see when they’re doing finish carpentry, plumbing, drywall, and electrical work. Whether it’s in the kitchen for hanging wall cabinets or a built-in microwave, in the bathroom for attaching grab bars, or in the living room for fireplace surrounds and wainscoting, the right blocking can make a big difference.
The final 5% of any good framing job is blocking. It makes work easier for the subsequent tradesmen and future homeowners, and it can be completed using cutoffs that would otherwise land in the Dumpster. So why doesn’t every house have sturdy blocking behind towel bars, under stairs, and in closets? Some of it is eliminated to save time and money, and some is overlooked. It’s also a good bet that lots of blocking is left out simply because nobody ever asked the right people where it was needed. But what if the plumber, the electrician, the drywall contractor, and the finish carpenter showed up on the job before the framers rode off into the sunset?
To explore this scenario, I asked five of our frequent contributors to help create a blocking wish list. Every house is different, of course, and this list isn’t complete. It does, however, provide a useful road map to a desirable destination: solid backing for many of the fixtures, appliances, trim details, and other common features found in a typical house.
Mike Guertin: Stagger blocking for wall cabinets. Wall cabinets need lots of support, especially along the top mounting rail. I use a combination…