Bring Advanced Framing to Your Job Site
Less lumber means lower construction costs and more room for insulation.
Synopsis: Conventionally built houses use more lumber than is actually necessary, which increases costs, facilitates thermal bridging, and takes room that could be used for insulation. In this article, builder and remodeling contractor Danny Kelly details his techniques for using advanced framing in houses by addressing some key questions about the process. Kelly explains how to start the layout for stacked framing; how to manage backing for trim; how to lift long, wobbly walls; how to eliminate extra studs; how to fasten drywall at inside corners; how to connect wall sections without using a second top plate; and how to troubleshoot on the job site.
Most houses have a lot more lumber in the walls than is really needed. All of that extra wood not only increases the costs, but it adds to thermal bridging and steals room from insulation.
Advanced framing aims to eliminate any lumber that isn’t critical to the structure. Green-building programs award points for using advanced framing techniques, which is great, but that’s not why my firm does it. We do it because it allows us to use 2×6 studs and to install more insulation for about the same price as 2×4 walls. Also, the Department of Energy says a home with advanced framing will cost 5% less to heat and cool, which is a lot of money over the life of the structure.
Our path to advanced framing was incremental. We started about five years ago, when we began eliminating redundant jacks and cripples. Then we switched to 24-in. centers, two stud corners, and ladder blocking at interior-wall intersections. These simple steps reduced the number of studs in the walls by 50%.
Once my crew felt comfortable with these changes, we made a switch to single top plates. This requires the framing members to be stacked within…