To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of 2×4 exterior wall construction are greatly exaggerated.
In fact, the outlook for 2×4 residential construction has never been brighter in spite of tough R-20 exterior wall code standards.
That’s good news to scores of local, regional and national home builders that swear by 2×4 construction. Not so long ago, many home builders feared they would be forced to scrap building plans and well-established work flows in favor of 2×6 exterior wall construction.
What changed? How did 2×4 construction go from intensive care to viability in many markets?
Say thanks to next-generation insulated structural sheathing. This game-changing framing advance rewrites the rules of what is possible from 2×4 framing. Overnight, home builders now have a strategy that can save them from a needless and difficult 2×6 framing transition.
Those observations and others are offered by Lee Bybee, a trained architect, MBA, and director of national accounts for OX Engineered Products, a leading U.S. manufacturer of wall system products.
“Most of the country has converted to R-20 exterior wall assembly,” says Bybee. “However there’s about 50% of the country that still builds with 2×4 construction.”
Bybee says the push for R-20 compliance nationwide means 2×4 builders and component manufacturers must find a way to preserve their familiar 2×4 construction workflow without sacrificing the latest energy code standards.
Is that even possible?
Absolutely, reports Bybee. In fact, a surprising number of production builders are already doing just that or, more surprisingly, actively considering switching back to 2×4 studs from 2x6s.
Code-Compliant 2×4 Construction
“National and regional production builders realize they don’t have to sacrifice budgets and margins on 2×6 construction. The key is using structural continuous insulated sheathing instead of OSB to meet energy code,” says Bybee.
For example, Bybee’s company manufacturers a structural continuous insulated sheathing product called OX-IS. OX-IS outperforms OSB R-value performance by up to 1,100%, helping make “the wall cavity question” largely irrelevant, says Bybee. OX-IS also performs four-wall assembly functions in a single pass around the home – structural support, water and air barrier, and insulation (up to R-6). OX-IS sheathing is also just a third of the weight of OSB, a huge transportation advantage for component manufacturers.
Bybee says his company has relationships with most of the Top-10 national builders on code-compliant 2×4 construction. One builder is even looking to transition back over to 2×4. “We work with a lot of regional guys too,” Bybee adds.
Call it 2×4 2.0. For production-minded home builders and component manufacturers, the way forward with code-compliant 2×4 construction never looked more promising or profitable.
To learn more about energy code-compliant 2×4 construction with next-generation insulated structural sheathing, visit www.oxep.com