flexiblefullpage - default
Currently Reading

Wall Framing Techniques to Improve Thermal Performance and Lower Costs

Advertisement
billboard - default
Quality Matters

Wall Framing Techniques to Improve Thermal Performance and Lower Costs

An optimized value-engineered approach to framing kills two birds with one stone by reducing lumber costs while boosting the home's thermal performance


By Graham Davis January 10, 2021
Partition wall framing for better thermal performance
There are several areas within a traditional wall-framing job that can become a problem for heat loss, which proven OVE practices can solve. | Photo: Courtesy IBACOS
This article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of Pro Builder.

The message is simple: Taking an optimized value-engineered approach to wall framing can not only significantly improve thermal performance but also reduce your costs and deliver a more comfortable home.

Because heat passes through wood framing more easily than it does through common insulation products, optimized value engineering (OVE) encourages builders to reduce the amount of wall framing as much as possible and, in turn, to increase the amount of wall-cavity insulation. 

Consider this example: Kiln-dried lumber has a thermal value of about R-1 per inch. Add a ½-inch of OSB sheathing and you get to R-4. On the other hand, insulation usually varies from R-13 to as much as R-24, depending on the material, and insulation is cheaper than studs, posts, and headers (especially recently).


RELATED


    Wall-Framing Problems and OVE Solutions

    There are several areas within a traditional wall-framing job that can become a problem for heat loss, which proven OVE practices can solve. 

    Corners: Open Corners for Better Insulation

    The typical practice of using two studs with blocking in between for one wall and an end stud for the other wall creates a lot of air space in the corner that can’t be insulated. In a cold climate, this corner is so cold on the interior that warm, moist air in the home will condense, potentially causing the studs to collect dust and grow mold, especially if there are large pieces of furniture in that corner blocking air movement.

    Rather than framing a conventional corner, build an open corner—often called a three-stud approach (Fig. 1)—that permits insulation to carry much farther into that corner space and also provides a nailing surface for drywall. Or you can use (and buy) even less lumber (and make even more room for insulation) by replacing one stud with either a 1x4 or F clips to hold the drywall in place.

    Figure 1
    A three-stud approach permits insulation to carry much farther into corner space.

    Partition Tees: Two Options That Make It Easier to Install Insulation 

    These also create large, wasteful voids in the thermal boundary. Rather than framing a conventional partition tee, a ladder-style tee (Fig. 2A) allows you to install insulation behind the partition. Just be sure to install the blocking on edge. 

    Figure 2A
    Be sure to install the blocking on edge when using a ladder-style tee. 

    Another method uses a 2x6 behind a 2x4 partition-wall end stud to provide nailing support for the drywall, but is still open to allow insulation to be installed through the partition (Fig. 2B).

    Figure 2B
    This method uses a 2x6 behind a 2x4 partition-wall end stud to provide nailing support for the drywall. 

    Window and Door Openings: Reduced Header Sizes, Better Insulation

    These framed components are often built with much more framing lumber than is structurally required, causing significantly more thermal loss. Specifically, headers are often over-engineered and leave no room for insulation. When I started framing homes (many years ago), we simply used double 2x12 headers over nearly every opening. But many openings require just half that amount of structural support, and headers over openings located directly below a gable end truss are practically unnecessary because there is virtually no load on the wall. 

    OVE reduces the amount of framing in a wall as much as possible, and in turn increases the amount of wall-cavity insulation

    Ask your structural engineer to reduce header sizes to what is required and no more. Headers under gable-end trusses can often be reduced to a pair of 2x4s. 

    There are also several ways to insulate headers. Instead of a double layer of 2-by material for a 2x4 wall, replace the spacers with ½-inch EPS (expanded polystyrene) or XPS (extruded polystyrene) foam panels (Fig. 3). On 2x6 walls, the headers can be pushed to the exterior of the wall, leaving a 2 ½-inch void to be filled with insulation or foam board. 

    Figure 3
    Instead of a double layer of 2-by material for a 2x4 wall, replace the spacers with ½-inch EPS or XPS foam panels. 

    With these basic OVE techniques, you’ll improve thermal performance, lower your lumber costs, and be confident that homeowners will experience better indoor comfort and overall satisfaction. 

    Graham Davis drives quality and performance in home building as a building performance specialist on the PERFORM Builder Solutions team at IBACOS.
     

    Related Stories

    Quality Matters

    Limit Lumber Waste: 3 Effective Strategies for Home Builders

    Dumpsters overflowing with lumber are merely a symptom. To really reduce lumber waste on your jobsites, you need to address your systems

    Quality Matters

    Better Attic Insulation: Simple Solutions for 4 Common Problem Areas

    Home builders generally do a good job with blown-in-place attic insulation but should take care with these common trouble spots to ensure a better insulation job and greater home energy efficiency

    Quality Matters

    Construction Site Fall Protection Made Simple

    Do you want workers to take jobsite safety seriously? Then don’t overcomplicate it

    Advertisement
    boombox1 -
    Advertisement
    native1 - default
    halfpage2 -

    More in Category




    Advertisement
    native2 - default
    Advertisement
    halfpage1 -

    Create an account

    By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.


    Daily Feed Newsletter

    Get Pro Builder in your inbox

    Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

    Save the stories you care about

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

    The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
    Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

    It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

    Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

    Disable your ad-blocker
    Disable now
    Subscribe to Pro Builder
    Subscribe
    Already a member? Sign in
    Become a Member

    Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.