by • December 12, 2012 • Framing & Decks, Insulation & Air Sealing, UncategorizedComments (7)2990

Practical Advanced Framing

I’ve been building houses for about 18 years now and I’m astounded how little the housing business has changed in the last 50+ years.  Most new houses today are framed pretty similarly to the way houses were framed in the 50’s.  One notable exception is the introduction of lighter & lighter sheathing products, but that’s a blog post for another day.  Most new homes in Austin TX are framed with 2×4 studs on 16″ centers with 2×10 or 2×12 headers over windows/doors.  In this video I’ll show you how some minor tweaks in your framing techniques can yield substantially higher insulation values in your walls.  I’m officially coining the phrase “Practical Advanced Framing”.  Let me know what you think of the video. 
-Matt Risinger – Risinger Homes in Austin, TX

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  • Hi Matt,

    Why not go with 3 or more inches of rigid foam on the exterior instead of 3/4″? Would this not eliminate most of your thermo bridging concerns and ensure a complete blanket to cover the structure?

    Regards Chris

    • Chris, Funny you should bring this up. I just attended a presentation by Dr Joe Lstiburek and this is the exact wall he proposes as the “Perfect Wall”. 3+ Inches of Foam, a peel&seal vapor/water barrier, plywood, then 2×4 studs. That assembly works in any climate zone in America. I think I need to do a blog post on this topic. The hard part on this extra thick exterior is working through the cladding details, hanging the rain screen, detailing this with the architect prior to plans being completed, etc. Best, Matt

  • Matt, I really like the idea but how wonder what the actually lumber savings will be if I switch from 2×4 @ 16″ O.C. to 2×6 @ 24? O.C. Have you guys done any calculations to figure out what kind of saving you’re getting? Also, I really like your idea for the headers. We’ve just been using 1/2″ rigid foam instead of OSB or plywood to make our header sandwiches. Overall I think this is a great idea if you can get the building department to approve. Have you had any issues with that in Austin?

    • Austin Home Restorations: Thanks for commenting! The lumber savings from 2×4 16″OC to 2×6 24″OC is about a wash cost wise in my experience. I’ve read that it can save a few percent of lumber costs but that’s not been my experience. However, these insulated Timberstrand headers will cost a bit more than traditional headers. I think they are worth the extra cost for reduced Sheetrock cracks, and getting 1.5″ of foam. Regarding the Inspector issue, that’s not been a problem for me to date. I usually have engineered plans that call for a specific TS header size, and I’m having that Engineer issue a letter at framing saying we’ve complied with his plans. Best, Matt

  • Mr. Risinger,
    What has been your experience or thoughts using SIP’s (structurally insulated panels)?



    • Trent, I’ve not personally built a SIPS house so my thoughts are not to be taken as Gospel. I think that an Advanced Framed house with exterior rigid foam can get 90+% of the way to the efficiency of a SIPS house without the extra hassle/expense. I think that SIPS will always be a “fringe” player in the structure of houses in America. You’re going to see me headed towards the Dr Joe Lstiburek “Perfect Wall”; 2×4 framing with a continues Ice/Water shield over the sheathing, then 2-3″ of continuous rigid foam on the walls, and 4-6″ rigid foam on the roof deck. That’s a killer assembly in any climate zone. It basically treats your house like furniture as all your framing is inside the thermal envelop. Thanks for commenting! Matt

  • Shawn

    Hi Matt,
    New reader/subscriber. About to start building a house in the DFW area. Can you give more guidelines to your “practical advanced framing”? IE, practical vs full?