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Semi-exposed interior framing for Perfect Walls

user-5453257 | Posted in Interior Design on

I’m building a 1000 sqft cabin residence outside of Portland, OR, and I’m considering using Lstiburek’s “Perfect Walls”: 2×6 framing with a few inches of rockwool exterior insulation.
Since I won’t have batt insulation in the walls, it seems like there are interior finishing options besides plain drywall.

In particular, I’m wondering if it’s possible to do a “semi-finished” modern / industrial look out of horizontal wood or panels.
This would visually screen the framing while being much more configurable and extensible in the future.
For example, leaving a few inches open near the floor/ceiling would allow for recessed lighting, plenty of hidden electrical outlets, central vac hookups, ventilation registers, &c.
Since the floor would be supported by exposed trusses in a conditioned basement, it’d be very easy to run (and change!) wiring, pipes, and ducting.

Does anyone know of good examples of this kind of “semi-exposed” framing?
Are there any code restrictions that make it impossible to do?

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  1. Expert Member

    Leaving conventional stick framing exposed was pretty common among architects in the 80s. The most famous example is Frank Gehry's own house in Santa Monica from 1977.

    There is nothing inherently against the code in taking this approach, but the devil is in the details. You may have to use BX (shielded) for some of the exposed wiring, and provide fire blocking where uninsulated walls meet the ceiling etc. But those sorts of minor changes from conventional construction might be right in line with the modernist aesthetic you are trying for.

    Good luck with your build.

  2. Andrew_C | | #2

    For some pictures and ideas, you could look at Matt Risinger's " Perfect Wall" house that has a lot of exposed framing.

  3. user-5453257 | | #3

    Malcom --- thanks for the pointer about Gehry's house, I'll dig further.

    Andrew --- Yep, I saw a few of Risinger's videos about the house and am sold on the performance, but I didn't see a ton of details about the interior design/decoration.

    I'm sure I'll need to play around with local materials to do a custom wall system, it's just turning out to be very difficult to Google for photos of examples of what I'm thinking = )

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Something like this?


  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    Or perhaps like this?


  6. charlie_sullivan | | #6

    I would have expected this to be against code for fire safety reasons, but apparently it's not. Do you think that it's actually OK from a fire safety perspective, or is it a loophole because code didn't anticipate this type of design? I'm no expert on fire safety, but I thought that one of the principles was to avoid structural members getting consumed by fire as well as avoiding rapid spreading.

  7. Expert Member

    Fire codes for single residences deal almost exclusively with preventing the fire from entering concealed spaces and moving from one assembly to another. There are very loose restrictions on how flammable exposed surfaces can be but they seem quite content to let the structure itself burn down.

  8. user-5453257 | | #8

    Martin, yes, thanks for the photos!
    Those walls are fully exposed, which is half of what I want.
    Imagine covering those with panels like in this photo, with some panels on hinges (for storage/utility) and other panels left out to leave framing exposed for in-wall shelving --- those are the examples I'm looking for.

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