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Community and Q&A

Best wall system for my area and budget?

cameronguenzel | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I will be building a 2,300 sf house in Nebraska, Zone 5A. It will be a two-story, 38′ x 31′ with four walls, an attached garage, and a 4:12 hip roof. Due to a small lot and houses next door, most windows face either the Northwest or Southeast.

I am on a pretty tight budget here, and was quoted the price for 2×4 walls. I can squeeze another $5-8k or so out of the budget to improve the wall system. What should I do? I was thinking 2×6 with foam board. Thoughts? Thanks!

(The floorplan is at the drafters right now, but I will post it later if anyone has any thoughts on it.)

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    It would be nuts to build a new home in Nebraska with 2x4 walls.

    Of course, 2x6 walls with exterior rigid foam would be a vast improvement. In your climate zone (climate zone 5), you'll need your foam to have a minimum R-value of R-7.5. For more information, see Calculating the Minimum Thickness of Rigid Foam Sheathing.

    You might also want to get a price on 12-inch-thick double-stud walls with cellulose insulation.

  2. cameronguenzel | | #2

    Thanks for your thoughts. Are you talking about a double-stud 2x4 wall, with a couple inch gap between the studs? What wrap or exterior would you use? Would foamboard be necessary? Would this be significantly better than the 2x6 system you described? Thanks!

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    If you are unfamiliar with double-stud walls, there are plenty of articles on the GBA website to help you learn about them. Start with these articles:

    Double-Stud Walls

    Choosing a Cost-Effective Wall System

    Is Double Stud-Wall Construction the Path to Efficiency on a Budget?

    Choosing a High-Performance Wall Assembly

    Six Proven Ways to Build Energy-Smart Walls

    Don't forget to check out the links in the "Related Articles" boxes on the pages linked to above.

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