Alternative Framing Techniques

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Optimum Value Engineering, Engineered Wood Wall Framing, Structural Insulated Panels, and Light Gauge Steel Framing are advanced approaches to building exterior walls. Each technique has significant benefits over traditional framing measures.

Optimum Value Engineering/Advanced Framing

Optimum value engineering (OVE) or advanced framing refers to framing techniques that reduce the amount of lumber used to build a home while maintaining the structural integrity of the building.

Using OVE techniques results in lower material and labor costs and improved energy performance for the building. While the various techniques can be applied as a whole package, many components can be used independently, depending on the specific needs of the project.

These techniques can benefit all builders who build stick-frame homes, even if only the interiors are stick-built.

Specific techniques include:

19.2″ and 24″ on center framing
Modular layout
Single top plate – Exterior and bearing walls
Single top plate – Interior non-bearing partitions
Right-sized headers
No headers in non-bearing partitions
Ladders at T-intersections
Open corner framing
Doubling the rim joist in lieu of header
Some of these techniques are shown in the diagram to the right.

Engineered Wood Wall Framing

The decreasing supply of large-diameter, old-growth trees has resulted in an increased popularity of engineered wood materials that use young, small-diameter trees. The materials are processed into strands, then reassembled into panels, boards, and framing.

Engineered wood wall framing can be used as a one-to-one replacement for traditional 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 dimensional lumber, headers, and beams. Engineered framing can be installed with the same processes, tools, and fasteners as conventional wood framing, but is stronger and has fewer defects.

Structural Insulated Panels

Structural insulated panels (SIPS) are made from a thick layer of foam (polystyrene or polyurathane) sandwiched between two layers of oriented strand board (OSB), plywood, or fiber-cement. The result is an engineered panel that provides structural framing, insulation, and exterior sheathing in a solid, one-piece component. Some SIP manufacturers precut the panels based on a digital blueprint of the house, which allows workers to assemble the panels rapidly with minimal training. SIPs construction allows builders to quickly construct an exterior building envelope that is strong, airtight, and very energy efficient.

Residential Light-Gauge Steel Framing

The use of light gauge steel framing is common in commercial building and gaining acceptance in home construction due to its rot and termite resistance, uniformity, and lower cost when compared with wood. Steel studs can be used for both non-load-bearing and load-bearing applications. Steel studs, joists, and rafters fit into a top and bottom track. Steel framing members can be cut with a chop saw, aviation snips, or electric shears.

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