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Energy-efficient walls with conventional building techniques

IrishGuyJohn | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on


I’m building a house in Zone 4A.  The builders here are all very conventional.  They are comfortable with  2 x 6 construction [or 2 x 4].

Can a staggered 2 x 4 wall be built [to minimize thermo bridging] on a standard poured concrete foundation?  Does staggering require significant additional materials and/or labor?

Would a 2 x 6 standard wall with a 1” exterior sheet insulation be better than a 2 x 4 staggered wall?

Given the constraints of traditional building techniques available, what is the best way to go?


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  1. Aedi | | #1

    Using conventional building techniques, the simplest thing to do is to frame with 2x6s 24" OC (double top plate, not advanced framing), fill bays with cellulose (though fiberglass is only a small loss) and use Huber's ZIP R sheathing system or similar product. Hardly any new techniques involved, just some tape. Gets you up to R12 on the outside, and a good air barrier. That is what builders have started doing in my area to meet code. Note that R 4.5 is minimum for ext. sheathing in you climate zone, if I recall correctly.

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #2

      That's probably the best bet. Nothing to scare off contractors and you still end up with a well performing wall.

    2. Aedi | | #3

      One extra note: It is a good idea to include a blower door test in your contract, and require your home achieve a certain result. This will incentivize your builder to get the air sealing details right, and not skimp on it.

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