APA and Ohio’s Contract Lumber on helping builders meet new energy codes with 2×6 walls.
BY: BOB CLARK
As energy codes grow more stringent around the country and builders look for solutions to boost efficiency without adding costs, 2×6 advanced framing is gaining new attention as a proven option that cost effectively meets new energy code requirements while using familiar materials and methods.
Advanced framing techniques increase energy efficiency by maximizing space for cavity insulation and minimizing the potential for insulation voids. The methods also optimize material usage and eliminate redundancies and waste while maintaining structural integrity.
For savvy dealers, 2×6 advanced framing is an opportunity to be a resource to customers by showing them new cost-effective ways to increase R-values using the same wood structural panel wall sheathing they already buy. This is particularly necessary in areas where adoption of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) now requires wall assemblies to achieve R-20 or R-13+5 insulation levels.
“It comes down to education—for a dealer to be educated on what advanced framing is so they can relay that to the builders,” says Alan Albrecht, a senior structural engineer for Contract Lumber in Columbus, Ohio, who is seeing a growing number of builder customers adopting the practices.
Two-by-six advanced framing encompasses a range of individual techniques, with most focusing on increasing cavity insulation. Among the most common methods:
1. 2×6 Framing, 24″ On Center
Walls built with 2×6 wood studs and R-20 cavity insulation meet the R-20 energy code requirements regardless of stud spacing. However, 2×6 walls spaced
24″ on center not only have deeper insulation cavities, but also wider cavities than conventional 2×4 framing spaced 16″ on center, thereby increasing the amount of insulation inside the wall and improving the whole-wall R-value. Builders nationwide have been moving steadily to 2x6s, driven largely by increasing code requirements. According to a survey by the Home Innovation Research Labs, nearly 40% of all singlefamily walls constructed in 2013 used 2×6 framing, up from 30% just five years ago.
2. Right-Sized Headers
Advanced framing headers offer increased energy efficiency by replacing some framing materials with space for insulation inside the area of the header. Advanced framed headers are sized for the loads they carry and are often installed in single or double plies rather than double or triple.