This article defines king studs, which are used for framing walls. Includes helpful diagrams that show where king studs are positioned.

When it comes to house framing, there’s a remarkable member of the construction crew that deserves a special spotlight: the king stud. No, we’re not talking about that ripped carpenter who looks like Brad Pitt—we’re referring to a key support member in your home’s wall framing.

wall framing diagram
King stud is a full-height vertical stud that runs from bottom plate to top plate on each side of an opening like this doorway. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Positioned on either side of a framed opening, such as a door or window opening, the king stud is a vertical wall stud—usually a 2×4 or 2×6—that extends from the bottom plate (or sole plate) to the top plate of the wall. It stands as a vertical framing member, providing essential support and stability to the wall assembly by supporting weight. As shown in the illustration above, the trimmer studs (also called jack studs) that support each end of the header (horizontal beam) that goes across the top of the window or door opening are nailed to the king studs. Note: For a load-bearing wall or wide window or door opening, the header is built from two 2-bys set on edge or from a 4-by (or larger) beam.

Cut-away illustration of a window wall stud framing, including studs, sill, top plate, and sheathing.
The king studs shown here are used to frame a window opening. © Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Imagine looking at a wall with a framed opening in the center. The king stud resides on both sides of the opening, reaching from the floor plate to the top plate at the ceiling. It anchors the wall structure and plays a vital role in distributing and transferring loads throughout the framing system.

building wall framing on floor
This photo shows a wall being built flat on the subfloor, before it’s raised into position. The king studs are the full-length wall studs that frame the doorway opening. Nicholas John Jackson | FreeRangeStock

Here is why the king stud rules the realm of house framing:

  • Load distribution and transfer. The king stud plays a crucial role in evenly distributing and transferring structural loads, sometimes in load bearing walls. It ensures your walls remain stable and sturdy, providing the necessary support they need.
  • Attachment and alignment. The king stud acts as an anchor to the wall assembly. It aligns adjacent studs with precision, promoting structural integrity and strength throughout the framing system.
  • Structural support for openings. When it comes to framed openings, such as doors and windows, the king stud bears the weight of headers and ensures structural stability by preventing any undesirable sagging or instability.
  • Installation finesse. Installing a king stud requires attention to detail and a knack for precision. It needs to be cut to the correct length so it stands plumb and securely in place. A well-installed king stud is a cornerstone of a solid wall (even though it isn’t necessarily in a corner).

From load distribution to providing support for openings, the unassuming king stud plays a pivotal role in keeping your walls strong and stable.

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort