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Traditional vs. Advanced Framing Techniques

Traditionally, houses are framed with a wood skeleton, which determines the shape of the house and provides its structural integrity. This method has made framing a house a pretty straightforward affair — but by applying some new thinking and advanced framing techniques, the Meadowlark Design + Build team has found a way to refine that process to reduce the amount of lumber used, while also increasing the amount of insulation provided. 

Let’s take a look at the differences between traditional vs. advanced framing techniques, and identify how advanced framing techniques can help you build a sturdier, more sustainable home. 

What Are Traditional Framing Techniques?

With traditional framing techniques, your home’s exterior walls are built with short distances between studs and double or triple headers. The result is a wall composition of about 25% lumber. You're probably familiar with traditional framing, where you expect studs within your walls to be 16" apart (from stud center to center). While that traditional framing method can do a lot for the structure of your home, every single one of those stud boards is a 1.5" wide space (that runs the entire height of your home) that you cannot insulate. 

The R-value/inch of a stud is 1.25. The R-value/inch of fiberglass or mineral wood batt insulation is roughly 3.14 and various types of foams have R-values/inch that range from 4.48 to 7.20 depending upon the type of foam. A higher number means better ability to stop heat transfer (i.e; energy loss), through the wall. It doesn't require advanced math to see why minimizing the amount of wood framing in your home will help to make your home more energy efficient.

The bottom line here? Traditional framing techniques use unnecessary lumber, and they don’t build the most energy-efficient homes. 

What Are Advanced Framing Techniques?

Advanced framing techniques, sometimes referred to as optimum value engineering (OVE),  optimize material usage to increase the energy efficiency of the structure and reduce the amount of waste generated in the construction process. Advanced framing uses less lumber to build homes that can accommodate more insulation with a much higher R-value, while still remaining structurally sound. In fact, in most cases, advanced framing techniques use about 25-30% less lumber in the frame, which leaves room for more insulation and a more energy-efficient home. 

The main component of advanced framing techniques is to only use lumber where it’s needed to maintain structural integrity. For example, the diagram below shows how framing members are lined up from the rafter to the basement rim joist. 

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What Are the Benefits of Advanced Framing Techniques?

We’ve already hinted at a few of the benefits that advanced framing techniques can bring to your home, but let’s fully flesh them out here. With these techniques, you’ll experience more: 

  • Structural Integrity - When properly constructed and designed to line up vertical loads, walls built with advanced framing techniques have a strong and durable structure. They also have fewer framing members that are subject to stress. 

  • Sustainability - Since they use less lumber, advanced framing techniques provide a sustainable solution that uses minimal resources and results in less construction waste. 

  • Energy Efficiency - Advanced framing techniques allow for more insulation, which improves your home’s envelope by increasing the R-value, minimizing thermal bridging, and providing a comfortable, energy-efficient living environment for years to come. 

  • Cost-Effectiveness - Since wood is not a good insulator and costs more per square foot than insulation, this is a trade-off that makes sense - less material, more performance

How to Make Advanced Framing Techniques Even Better

While homes built with advanced framing techniques are inherently more energy-efficient than their traditionally framed counterparts, we’ve found an additional way to go one step further here at Meadowlark. By adding two layers of 1” rigid polyisocyanurate insulation board (polyiso) with staggered seaming on the exterior, we create a thermal barrier between the wood members and the exterior of your home. This forms an excellent air infiltration barrier to prevent moisture issues and also adds an R-10 insulation factor to the total wall assembly. This construction technique rivals the energy efficiency of structural insulated panels (SIPS), but costs less.

Try Advanced Framing Techniques for a Sturdier, More Sustainable Build with Meadowlark

At Meadowlark Design + Build, we consider our modified advanced framing technique to be one of our best green building technologies. Its structural integrity, cost-effectiveness, and energy efficiency have helped it earn a top place in our bag of green building tricks. 

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If you’re interested in using advanced framing techniques to build your Ann Arbor custom home, contact our team today! We’re happy to learn more about your project goals and get started working with you on the path toward your dream home.

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