2x4 Vs. 2x6

 
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:23 PM   #1
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2x4 Vs. 2x6


I'm trying to decide on 2x6 vs. 2x4 in a new subdivision we are about to start. These homes will be singles story spanish colonial style architecture with varying ceiling heights, and a mix of flat roof/parapets and gables. The basic dimensions will be about 50 wide by about 65 deep. The price range will be in the low 200s, which is middle to higher end for southern new mexico.

I would go 2x4 16 O.C., except that much of my competition is doing 2x6. Some are doing it 24 O.C. and some 16 O.C. As far as I can tell, here are the advantages for each:

2x4 16 O.C.
- Less expensive frame labor and material
- Less expensive for insulation
- Larger useable square footage (my understanding is SF is usually calculated to the outside of the wall, so 2x4 gives you an extra 2")
- In the southwest, most heat transfer occurs in the ceiling/attic, so the extra wall insulation is not as effective as additional attic insulation

2x6 16 O.C.
- Greater structural strength (but its unnecessary... I could use red iron and reinforced concrete walls!)
- Greater insulating capacity
- Slammed doors might rattle a little less

2x6 24 O.C.
- Almost the same as 16 O.C., but a little better insulation and less lumber cost

Am I missing anything? In my opinion, unless I'm building a custom home 300k or more, the 2x6 is unnecessary. 2x4 provides the stability and ample insulation for the southwest desert (using wet applied cellulose). The biggest factor to me is the 30-40 square feet that I lose if I go with 2x6.

Please give me your input. Thanks!
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:28 PM   #2
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


If "much" of your competition is using the 2x6 with 16oc, are you considering being the "guy who skimps"??? (Word gets around quickly)

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Old 02-10-2010, 10:32 PM   #3
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


Whats your energy calcs come up with?
If you go 2x6 @ 24 oc you'll need 5/8 board, at least around here. But with a 2x6 wall the insulation upsell has to be tough to beat.
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:37 PM   #4
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


possible to plug the 24"o.c. as "green building" since it'll have less thermal bridging for insulation and also less material?? screw the "guy who skimps" and turn it into the "guy who cares"
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:43 PM   #5
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


Why not 2x4 @16 with fibreglass insulations, and foam insulation over the sheathing.

It's not skimping and probably better insulation than just a 2x6 wall since the foam helps with thermal bridging?

I've heard that depending on your code, you can tape the seams on the foam and skip building wrap too
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:02 PM   #6
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


The last 2 story addition I framed (10'x14') the inspector called for 2x6. Not for structure because 2x4s wouldve been enough, but for thicker r-value in the walls. When you submit your drawings for pulling permit ask your inspector what he wants to see. In the end your L&I will be passing inpections and issuing C.O..
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:25 PM   #7
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


If it's roof and ceiling only, can't you go 2X4 @ 24" OC?

I think you should go 2x6 @24" OC. Better R-value and less material - which you can use as a selling points: it's greener and more energy efficient.
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:33 PM   #8
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


IMHO the guys I thanked have it right.
there is also merit to a foam sheathing if you don't need the ply or OSB and can use a metal strap or let in bracing. This does reduce thermal bridging.
My ideal wall would be 2x6 24 OC let in bracing or metal t bracing and foam sheathing preferably foil faced with closed cell foam insulation.
But that's just my opinion I could be wrong
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Old 02-11-2010, 12:01 AM   #9
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


Going with a Spanish Colonial look the 2x6's will make the walls thicker which will give it a more authentic look and feel and more opportunity to play around with sill, jamb and head enhancement.

Also 2x6's can take R-19 so you can tout the higher energy savings. If you put a little more effort into picking up energy savings elsewhere you might be able to downsize the HVAC system.........
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Old 02-11-2010, 12:23 AM   #10
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6




Way too tired and wasn't thinking right, too many long days in a row.

Last edited by Kgmz; 02-11-2010 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 02-11-2010, 02:36 AM   #11
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


I haven't seen anything less than 2 x 6 since I can't remember when.
Even garage packages around here are done with 2 x 6. Some are at 16" centres.
If it keeps you warmer in the cold, it will keep you cooler in the heat.
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Old 02-11-2010, 02:39 AM   #12
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


2x4 house framing should be obsolute, it is in this neck of the woods, minimum code is 2x6-16/oc.

16 o/c just seems easier to work with (shealthing/drywall) etc. Maybe 24 o/c on for non load barring walls to save some money i guess?. I really don't get why anyone would go 24 o/c what benefits besides a bit more insulation?
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Old 02-11-2010, 02:41 AM   #13
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


Quote:
Originally Posted by jlhaslip View Post
I haven't seen anything less than 2 x 6 since I can't remember when.
Even garage packages around here are done with 2 x 6. Some are at 16" centres.
If it keeps you warmer in the cold, it will keep you cooler in the heat.
Ya I have been seeing a bit more 2x6 deattached garage packages. I guess the R19/R20 insulation keeps you from scrapping windows
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:05 AM   #14
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


Thanks everyone for your comments. I didn't realize how much the 2x4 and 2x6 debate is already out there. I agree that the 2x6 wall is the better wall... but is it worth the cost and loss of square footage? (I'm still coming up with 30-40 sf).

Great comment on the thicker walls for the spanish colonial. The elevations at least have ballooned walls.

Related question: I'm in a mild climate, although probably more need for AC than heat. Does the wall thickness have as big of a payoff in warm climates as it does in a cold climate? In other words, is the value of extra wall insulation the same in either climate? I'm under the impression that the attic insulation, along with Low E, tight windows and doors, and maybe radiant barrier osb in the attic will be more effective dollars than 2x6 and extra wall insulation. If this is truly better, then it wouldn't be skimping right?

Anyone?
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:41 AM   #15
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


Quote:
Originally Posted by kimball76 View Post
Thanks everyone for your comments. I didn't realize how much the 2x4 and 2x6 debate is already out there. I agree that the 2x6 wall is the better wall... but is it worth the cost and loss of square footage? (I'm still coming up with 30-40 sf).

Great comment on the thicker walls for the spanish colonial. The elevations at least have ballooned walls.

Related question: I'm in a mild climate, although probably more need for AC than heat. Does the wall thickness have as big of a payoff in warm climates as it does in a cold climate? In other words, is the value of extra wall insulation the same in either climate? I'm under the impression that the attic insulation, along with Low E, tight windows and doors, and maybe radiant barrier osb in the attic will be more effective dollars than 2x6 and extra wall insulation. If this is truly better, then it wouldn't be skimping right?

Anyone?
the difference in square footage can be calculated by adding up all exterior walls in feet multiplying by 24 which is the square inch difference in thickness per foot and dividing by 144 which is one square foot in square inches.
Say the exterior walls are 250 feet in total
250x24/144= difference in square feet or 41.6 square feet


As far as payoff on a thicker wall
A 2x6 24OC wall will allow for a stud under each truss in most construction Where 16 OC will put every other truss mid point between studs. labor is lower on the 24 OC walls as there are fewer studs and fewer places to nail sheathing. Insulation labor is lower also.
Insulation value will be higher not only because of increased thickness but also less thermal bridging less cracks along framing that allow air movement.

Now the big question is it worth it from a cost saving standpoint.
being a tree hugger yes.
In all practicality you would have to do a manual J on each wall section and compare each with design temps and fuel costs to determine the difference in heating and cooling costs. and make your determination from there
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Old 02-11-2010, 10:00 AM   #16
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Re: 2x4 Vs. 2x6


You are zone 3 in New Mexico under IECC code.

So by code you can do 2x4 walls with R-13 insulation under current 2006 IECC and upcoming 2009 IECC.

You can see changes from 2006 and 2009 IECC for all states that use this code at link below. And analysis of changes.

http://www.iccsafe.org/Communities/E..._Analysis1.pdf


I would still use 2x6 walls and more so if if all the builders in your area are also using them.


The only way you are going to really know how much the price difference is is to price each wall system and compare them. I think you willl find the difference not much compared to the overall cost of the home.

As for the square footage that is lost, is anyone really going to notice that 2" difference.

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