How to Read a Construction Story Pole

Story poles are used to help keep courses of siding level around a house.
Story poles are used to help keep courses of siding level around a house. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Story poles are reference guides that are used in many aspects of construction. They are marked with various measurements to give the builder a quick reference point so they do not have to make repeated measurements. One of the most common uses for a story pole is for siding installation, but they are used for projects as small as cabinets. Siding, when installed correctly, will wrap around the entirety of a house on the same level. To do that, a reference mark is established on the house and the story pole is held to that mark so you can transfer measurements.

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Find the reference mark, or the top of the story pole; both of which should be clearly marked. This will tell you where to line up the pole when used for installing siding. It will also tell you where the measurements start from.

Look for evenly spaced marks. If these marks are not labeled, they probably indicate the spacing between each course of siding. They will be adjusted so you will have a full reveal of siding along the top and bottom of window trim. If they are not for siding they will probably indicate the location of studs or joists.

Other marks on a story pole will be labeled to tell you what they are for. These marks could be for locations of windows or doors or where to drill holes.

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