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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

Building with Strength: The Advantages of 2x6 Walls for Your Home


By Don Magruder


The exterior walls in most wood frame constructed homes utilize a call-out size piece of

lumber which is two inches thick by four inches wide (2x4 and 92 5/8 inches tall.

Because the lumber has been planned smoothly, the actual measurements can be as

small as one and a half inches by three and a half inches, and this is a discussion for

another blog. The length of 92 5/8 inches is used to achieve an actual 8-foot-tall wall

when you include the thickness of the 2x4 bottom, mending, and top plate to build the

wall.


There is a move by many homeowners to go with thicker 2x6 walls for two very

important reasons.


First, 2x6 wall studs can hold up to 56 percent more in structural weight, and a fully

sheeted 2x6 wall can support over 7,000 pounds of weight while a 2x4 wall can handle

just over 1,800 pounds. In hurricane zones such as Florida the weight and wind shear

strength offer real structural advantages.


Secondly, 2x6 walls offer more room for mechanical features in the wall. Technology is

creating a lot of smart devices which can make the home more efficient. Having the

space to mount these devices in a wall is important, and currently, in most framed

homes, 2x6 walls are recommended for plumbing and ventilation areas.


Finally, the 2x6 wall allows for greater insulation in the walls which can make the home

energy efficient. One big mistake some homeowners make is taking thicker insulation

and compressing it into smaller areas and expecting the same insulation R-Value.

Insulation R-Values are reduced if the insulation is compressed to make it fit and that is

why a full 6-inch-thick wall can increase the R-Value from R-11in a 2x4 wall to R-19.


There is a higher cost for 2x6 walls and typically, the homeowner will spend less than

$1.50 more for a 10-foot long 2x6 board over a 2x4. For most homes, the extra

investment is around $600, but long-term savings in energy costs, structural value

increases, and ease of adding home devices make this a valuable investment.


Before you start your next project, price out 2x6 walls versus 2x4, and you just might

find it is worth the investment. What goes behind the walls, does make a difference on

the other side of the wall.


Don Magruder is the Chief Executive Officer of RoMac Building Supply in Central Florida.

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