Thicker Built Walls Equal Better Insulation And Energy Efficeincy, Right?

October 07, 2009

wallconstructionA well-circulated green building ‘fact’ in new construction and in particular, superior energy efficiency, is achieved by framing exterior walls with 2×6 dimensional wood studs.  The theory is that with wider studs, the wall cavity in which insulation batts are installed is thicker and accommodating for a better “R” values.  Another part of the theory is that the stronger 2×6 material can space the studs 24″ apart (using 25% less material) versus the standard 16″ for the more commonly used 2×4 studs.

The Chicago Tribune featured this common misconception that using 2×6 walls is a superior construction technique.  There are factors beyond the spacing of the studs and depth of the wall cavity to consider.  First, the type of insulation used and it’s R-value (R-value is the standard measure of thermal resistance – the higher the better) whether installing fiberglass batts, cellulose or open-cell polyurethane spray foam.   Each type of material can achieve varying performance levels and cost considerations and green building standards. Some closed-cell foams, for example, are rated at R-7 per inch for instance.

Material costs in lumber must also be considered in the construction of exterior walls.  2×6 lumber versus 2×4 dimensional lumber have costs associated with each as well and the volume of lumber.  Generally, using the traditional 2×4 studs then add a one-inch or thicker layer of rigid foamboard outside with blown cellulose in the wall cavity.  Using the one-inch has the additional advantage of insulating the studs themselves as they have very little insulating value.  The attention to detail in using insulation foam and caulk at all exterior penetrations, windows and doors takes energy efficiency to ‘green’ levels and can get the job done without using larger 2×6 studs.

For the Chicago Tribune article click here and subscribe to Chicagoland Real Estate Forum for daily updates on trends and news.

About The Author

Read All Stories By Mitch Levinson

Mitch Levinson is the author of “Internet Marketing: The Key to Increased New Home Sales” published by BuilderBooks. He is an Internet marketing expert with expertise in search engine optimization, website development, email marketing, social media and CRM consulting services. He is known for creating effective programs that can be tracked through analytics to prove effectiveness and ROI. Mitch is founder and president of MLC New Home Marketing and MLC FlatFee Realty, as well as managing partner of mRELEVANCE, LLC, a Marketing, Communication, Interactive agency with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. He currently leads the Chicago team. A Multi-Million Dollar Sales Producer who earned an MBA in Computer Information Systems and eCommerce, he brings a unique perspective and experience to the field of real estate communications. Mitch combines the two interests in order to help home builders and developers gain a competitive advantage through the Internet and technology. When he isn’t behind a computer, he enjoys participating in sports and coaching his kids’ teams. Mitch resides in Arlington Heights, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago, with his family, which includes two rambunctious labs. Visit my Google+ profile.

Leave a Comment