Alternative Walls

Alternatives to Standard Building Methods Offer Some Green Advantages

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Alternative Walls, including:

  • Design and build strategies
  • Necessary codes
  • Application how-tos
  • Using materials

Locally procured materials can be inexpensive

Many alternatives to standard wood or masonry wall construction were either revived or invented by builders — sometimes novices — taking part in the back-to-the-land wave of the 1970s. They most often used clay and earth, wood, stone, straw and other plant fibers, and salvaged and recycled materials. Interest in these approaches began growing again in the mid-1990s. Initially, these systems relied on indigenous and/or low-cost materials along with significant inputs of human labor, typically provided by the owner-builders themselves and/or inexperienced volunteers eager to learn these natural building methods. As the movement has matured in recent decades, however...

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Sat, 02/25/2012 - 05:05

Response to Dana St. Ours
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

The best place to post your question is on GBA's Q&A page:

That way, more GBA readers are likely to see your question and to be able to help with with suggestions and answers.

I'm not sure what you mean by "extra cost" -- any good wall system will cost more than a cheap wall system. Depending on the R-value you are aiming for, many builders have concluded that the least expensive high-R wall is a double-stud 2x4 wall (framed with two parallel 2x4 walls) with a total thickness ranging from 10 to 12 inches, insulated with dense-packed cellulose.

Fri, 02/24/2012 - 17:22

Limiting thermal bridging.
by Dana St.Ours

I am building in zone 6 and trying to insulate a 2x6 framed home ( I haven't seen any deviation to this type of construction here in the northeast). Due to costs I am considering using Dow SIS sheathing R3 and a combination of spray foam and cellulose batt R25 on the exteerior walls. I am also using ICF's and will heat with heat pump electric/ gas. Will this give me the best insulation for my investment?I am looking for a 10 year payback on the extra cost associated with this install.

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