Building Your House – The 2×4 Vs 2×6 Framing Debate

When I started building houses, I did not realize there was a difference in building the frame of the house. I always assumed they used 2×4 lumber to frame a house. I was mistaken, and found there really is a difference in framing with 2×6 studs. What is 2×6 construction? It is the 2×6 stud, usually 8ft long, which are used for framing the exterior walls around the whole house. 2×4 studs are used for interior walls. It is something you must think about and decide when deciding to build.

When building your dream house, there are various opinions on 2×6 construction. You can ask the contractor if someone else is building your house, or if you are building it yourself, research it on your own. Some would say, that it is cheaper to build with two by four’s instead, because it is cheaper and requires less insulation. One builder I heard from stated ” two by six construction may add an increase in ‘thicker’ insulation but this insulation alone will not insulate a home ‘better’ than a 2×4 wall with proper treatment… “

I would disagree. When building your dream house, the benefit of more insulation is long-term. It increases energy efficiency, and if combined with a two by six with a 24-inch center, instead of a 16 inch, it can reduce labor costs, allow for more spacing for insulating around piping, wiring and duct work, and also allow more room for R-19 or R-21 wall insulation. It is far more economical in houses that are in a more cold winter environment, or homes in which windows are doors occupy 10 percent or less of the total wall area.

There are some significant costs to 2×6 construction, the window and door jambs must be wider, requiring the purchase of a door jam extender which can increase the cost by $12 to $15 per opening. The cost of 2x4x8′ studs is 40% less than a two foot,by four foot, by eight foot studs. On top of that, there are the bottom and the two top plates. Then there is the added cost for the extra insulation, as well as, deeper windowsills.

Some contractors will say that 2×4 construction is structurally as good as 2×6. They can easily support the house structure and weight. Most would agree, the main reason is insulation and the energy benefits. I prefer 2×6, and most Realtors and buyers ask about this, and prefer it as well. Is it necessary? It’s debatable,. All of my houses that I built were 2×6, and I think the costs paid off.