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Why don’t our exterior walls taper?

jklingel | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

The Riversong/Larsen Trusses are history. Enter the Sgt Klinger TaperTruss Wall System. I realize this has issues for those radical aestheticists who have grown accustomed to vertical walls, but shouldn’t the interior surface of our exterior walls taper inward at about 3 degrees so they are wider at the top? What is the point of having an R40 wall abruptly jump to R60 at the lid? Shouldn’t we ease into that? If tapering the whole wall inward is too weird, then a Class I wall would be vertical for the first 4′, then flow in an arch up to the lid. A compromise, Class II wall, would be vertical for the first 5′, then take a straight (but sloped) shot to the lid. Sheet rocker mudders could smoothen the transitions from vertical to sloped and from sloped to horizontal. Piece of cake, and a warmer house. Spiders are the only benefactors of high, 90 degree corners in typical houses, so we move them along, too. Whose going to market this? I don’t need the money; go for it.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    I appreciate your humor.

    At the risk of being the first one not to get the joke, I thought I would point out that many of us like to hang artwork on our walls -- and I, for one, am a big fan of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf.

  2. jklingel | | #2

    Martin: Actually, I was taking a light look at a serious idea I had, and glad you found it humorous. I just moved the taper inside to be conventional. Sure, it'll cost more, but one would have to forgo those 14K bathroom fixtures, and the sheet rockers get 2" nailing surfaces (that is a "thing" of mine, as noted in an earlier post). FWIW, it's just a concept. j PS: Books? Are those still around?

  3. Riversong | | #3

    People tried geodesic domes with inward curving walls and no one but Hobbits wanted to live in them.

    And don't ya know, Sgt Klinger, that heat moves upward. It gets confused when facing a wall and always looks for the ceiling.

    Besides, spiders gotta live some place too.

  4. Riversong | | #4

    And, if exterior walls were leaning outwards, it would increase interior space without increasing the footprint, kinda like Bill Coperthwaite's 4-storey, 54' diameter, 2700 SF yurt palace (Bill is the man who introduced the yurt to America)

  5. jklingel | | #5

    "... that heat moves upward. It gets confused when facing a wall and always looks for the ceiling." You lost me there. Pls explain (unless I missed the joke). I don't see how this is any different than a normal wall, except that there is a chase and the insulation gradually gets thicker. My goal is to better match the insulation to the air temperature, as I surmise that even with radiant floor heat there is some stratification. Sure, the easiest thing is to just stuff the wall the same thickness top to bottom, but DPC is not cheap, and tapering w/ a couple of extra 2x4s may be cheaper. BTW, I-joist flanges are out; just use two, 2x4s. Then you have a normal inner wall, w/ bracing. The plywood would be there anyway (if you chose to use that for the air barrier, an idea I stole) so all you are adding is a bunch of 2x4s. You may lose a bit of floor space, but you get an open chase, fwiw. Dunno. Just a thought. Thanks for the reply. john. PS: I have noticed that the geo domes down the road seem rather quite of late; I am not sure if they are still in use. Igloos are, though; just hellish installing T-1 lines in them.

  6. Riversong | | #6


    I was joking about the heat looking for the ceiling. And I thought your idea was presented half humorously, but apparently you're serious.

    Unless you happen to like the aesthetic (which will require a lot of extra work and make the walls and space less usable) I see no advantage in tapered walls.

    With normal 8' ceilings and a very tight, well insulated house, there is almost no air temperature stratification. That happens with leaky houses, hot-air heated houses and high or vaulted ceilings (which is why I avoid all those).

    The main reason we put a lot more insulation in the ceilings is that it's cheap. Making the walls thicker costs time, materials, money and space.

  7. jklingel | | #7

    R: Got it, and, yes, I am serious, but just exploring. This is a great place to throw out ideas, as one never knows who is going to take what and incorporate it into whatever, modify it, etc, or just further resolve that what they already do is The Deal. Having not lived in a radiant-floor heated house, I assumed there would still be some stratification, but apparently it is negligible. Another thought with the tapered wall is that one could then lower the heel on the Energy Heel Truss, which in my case will be 30". Not a big issue, but tweaking is all about small things. Yes, the thicker the walls, the larger the footprint for a given interior space, and at some point two important paths intersect and you quit designing and start building. Have a good one. john

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