A king stud is a specialized type of stud which is used in post and beam construction to support an opening such as a door or window. Many building codes specifically require the use of king studs to make openings sturdier, and to increase overall structural stability. Even in regions where the use of king studs is not required, many contractors like to use them anyway, to improve the quality and durability of their projects.
In post and beam construction, a structure is framed with a series of studs spaced at identical intervals. The studs run from the floor to the ceiling, distributing the weight of the building and supporting it as evenly as possible. The beams of the roof and flooring are similarly spaced for optimum weight distribution. The obvious drawback of post and beam construction is that the spacing of the studs usually does not leave enough room for door and window openings.
While one could simply omit studs for a door or window, this could create a weak point in the structure, which is not desirable. This is where the king stud comes in. These regular-length studs are located just outside the framing of the door or window on both sides to hold the headers, the horizontal pieces of wood which frame the opening. Additional support for the headers is offered by jack studs, also known as trimmer studs. Window and door openings are heavily supported with a king stud, header, and jack stud system, ensuring that they will withstand heavy use.
The king stud on either side of the frame bulks up the support around an opening, compensating for the fact that studs have been omitted to make room for the opening. When a new home is built, king studs are usually required around doors and windows. When adding doors and windows to existing structures, contractors usually try to work within the framework of existing studs so that they do not have to rip out and replace a chunk of the wall. This must be done carefully, to ensure that the structure is not compromised.
When drawing up plans for a new structure, the architect must think about the limitations posed by the king stud requirement, while also considering issues like necessary space for plumbing and electricity. Doors and windows tend to be expensive to build and install because of the additional labor and lumber required, and architects want to place these features in the best spots possible, to make the most of the extra cost. King studs must also be considered in a remodel, especially if a door or window is going to be moved as part of the remodeling plan.