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Basics & Theory

Building Science: Evolution Of Wood Frame Walls
Building Science describes how wood frame walls have evolved to look the way that they do, and what they may look like in the future.

Fine Homebuilding: Anatomy Of A Stud-Framed Wall
Fine Homebuilding describes components of a stud-framed wall.

GBA: Types Of Exterior Walls & Their Features
Green Building Advisor describes purposes, design considerations and types of exterior walls including framed, structural insulated panels, timber frame, ICF & block, and natural materials.
Information Sources

Building Science: Reports On High R-Value Wall Assemblies
Building Science provides free access to their technical documents on High R-Value Wall Assemblies, summaries of results of their ongoing High R-Value Enclosure research.

JLC: Free & Paid Articles On Wall Framing
Journal of Light Construction provides free and fairly inexpensive paid articles covering a wide range of wall framing topics, methods, problems, and procedures.

JLC: Online Videos On Wall Framing Strategies
Journal of Light Construction online videos demonstrate effective wall framing strategies including basic wall layout, building a storypole, production cutting, corners and framing, and installing sheathing. Choose from related videos list in right side panel.

Performance Walls: Simple Solutions For Code-Compliant Wall Construction
Engineered Wood Association provides information and resources for building safe, durable and code-compliant walls that are energy-efficient and cost-effective. This site compiles APA's extensive library of free wall-construction content, including design recommendations, how-to instructions, CAD details for wood-frame construction, and more.
Issues & Performance

APA: Brace Walls With Wood
Engineered Wood Association brochure provides guidelines on how plywood and OSB meet whole house bracing challenges. Free site registration required.

APA: Purchasable Guide To 2012 IRC Wood Wall Bracing Provisions
Engineered Wood Association new Guide to 2012 IRC Wood Wall Bracing Provisions explains how to use the IRC to provide the bracing necessary for a residential structure to resist the lateral loads that can result from wind and seismic events. The illustrated guide, the result of a publishing agreement between the International Code Council and APA, is 276 pages in length and features more than 200 figures, tables and photos. $42

APA: Results Of Full-Scale 3D Tests Of Wall Bracing
Engineered Wood Association study evaluates how various structural components work as a whole, and provides a better understanding of house three-dimensional system performance, plus specific measurements and data for wall bracing methods. (PDF) Free registration required.

APA: Simplified Wall Bracing Method
Engineered Wood Association APA report: APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method provides building officials, builders and designers with an approach and the supporting technical information to meet the requirements of the 2012 IRC Simplified Wall Bracing (Section R601.12). To achieve broad applicability and acceptance, the system uses the most common type of wall sheathing, wood structural panels, based on their superior structural performance. Free site registration required.

AWC: Manual To Design Wood Frame Buildings For Wind, Snow & Seismic Loads
American Wood Council offers this detailed online manual for designing and constructing wood frame buildings for high wind, snow and seismic load conditions. (PDF)

CMHC: Sound Attenuation Properties Of Exterior Walls In Wood Construction
CMHC research report covers sound attenuation properties of four exterior walls commonly used in Canadian low cost residential housing.

Construction Instruction: Convection Loop In A Wall In Summer
Construction Instruction online animation shows how a convection loop takes place in a wall in summer.

Construction Instruction: Convection Loop In A Wall In Winter
Construction Instruction online animation shows how a convection loop takes place in a wall in winter.

GBA: Bold Attempt To Slay R-Value
Green Building Advisor describes how a group of building science researchers is trying to invent a new metric for measuring the thermal performance of walls and ceilings.

GBA: Five Different High-R Walls
Green Building Advisor describes five high-r walls resulting from Passive House lessons from the Pacific Northwest.

IRC: Development Of Energy Ratings For Insulated Wall Assemblies
Canadian Institute for Research in Construction research paper is one in a series to present information generated from a research project conducted jointly by IRC and the polyurethane industry to assess the overall performance of insulated walls. (PDF)

IRC: Energy Rating Of Insulated Wall Assemblies
Canadian Institute for Research in Construction has developed a simple tool for determining the Wall Energy Rating (WER) of walls constructed according to field practices.

IRC: High Performance Building Envelope Systems North Of 60°
Canadian Institute for Research in Construction is researching to develop building envelope assemblies that are energy efficient and durable in extreme outdoor and indoor climates, focusing on their heat and moisture performance and impact on the environment.

JLC: Common Errors With Framing Connectors
Journal of Light Construction says installation errors can affect the load capacity of framing connectors and, if not corrected, cause long-term problems such as cracking and separation of finishes or failure in weather or seismic events.

McVicker Engineers: Overview Of Shear Walls
US McVicker Engineers offer information on shear wall types, material properties, loads, facts & forces, the plans and the field, problems, improvements, and links to more resources.

NIST: Effect Of Wall Mass On Heating & Cooling Loads
US National Institute of Standards and Technology completed a Field Study of the Effect of Wall Mass on the Heating and Cooling Loads of Residential Buildings. Six test buildings were extensively instrumented for measuring heating and cooling loads, wall heat transmission, and indoor temperature and humidity. During these measurements, the effect of wall mass on the heating and cooling loads was observed.

NREL: Thermal Impact Of Fasteners In High-Performance Wood-Framed Walls
US National Renewable Energy Laboratory paper on Thermal Impact of Fasteners in High-Performance Wood-Framed Walls discusses high-performance wood-framed walls that use much less than 40% of the energy consumed by similar homes built to minimum code, and evaluates the thermal impact of fasteners used to construct these walls. (PDF)
Procedures

APA: Build Energy Efficient Walls With Wood
Engineered Wood Association bulletin provides five basic steps to construct energy-saving wood wall systems that meet code, are durable to forces of nature, and save homeowners money.

APA: Resource Site On Wall Bracing
Engineered Wood Association resource site covers designing, building, and enforcing wall bracing systems.

APA: Wall Bracing To Satisfy IRC Code
Engineered Wood Association online video Wall Bracing is designed to educate builders and designers about the wall bracing requirements of the International Residential Code.

BC Housing: R22 Effective Walls In Wood-Frame Construction In BC
BC Housing online Illustrated Guide To R22+ Effective Walls in Wood-Frame Construction in BC was developed to assist home designers and builders build walls of low-rise wood-frame residential buildings with R22 or greater thermal performance. (PDF)

BCBEC: R-22 Walls & Insulating For The Future
BC Building Envelope Council online slide show presentation R-22 Walls & Insulating For The Future covers building enclosure & energy codes, highly insulated assemblies, exterior insulation how-to, and R-22 walls guide and other resources. (PDF)

BRIK: Troubleshooting In Design Of Construction Details, Walls
Morrison Hershfield paper Troubleshooting in Design of Construction Details, Walls presents a systematic approach to identifying potential performance problems of walls at the design review stage. (PDF)

Build It Solar: Larsen Truss Superinsulated Wall Design
Robert Riversong provides a detailed description of his modified Larsen Truss wall design that provides very high R values.

Builder Magazine: For Homes That Look Solid, Entablature Is A Must
Builder Magazine says traditional homes take their design ideas from classical architecture. A prime example is the table or beam, the entablature, that goes across the columns and holds up the roof. That bit of depth above the window head provides visual reassurance that the roof is sufficiently supported.

Builder Magazine: Studs At 24-Inch Spacing
Builder Magazine says studs at 24-inch spacing will save money and resources, and are safe. With 2x6s, it's a no-brainer for most residential construction, and with 2x4 studs you can also get by with 24-inch spacing, but walls should be 9 feet tall or less and the loads modest.

Building America: Online Guides For Insulating Walls & Components
Building America online guides describe considerations and procedures for insulating walls and wall components.

Building Science: Altered States & Walls As Environmental Separators
Building Science describes how walls are, at a basic level, an environmental separator. It keeps the outside out and the inside in. Easy to say, not always easy to do.

Building Science: Building Science of Walls
Building Science online slide show presentation describes building science behind the purposes, issues and considerations for exterior walls. (PDF)

Building Science: Flow-Through Wall Assemblies & Vapour Barriers
Building Science says a wall is supposed to keep the outside out and the inside in. That is the way things are supposed to work. The premise relating to the vapor control layer in the perfect wall is that it is for all intents and purposes completely impermeable, a true vapor barrier. But do we even need the vapor control layer at all?

Building Science: Guidance On Modeling Enclosure Design In Above Grade Walls
Building Science led a Building America Expert Meeting on Guidance on Modeling Enclosure Design for Above-Grade Walls. Presenters from national laboratories, consulting firms, and building material manufacturers presented on their research, which matched field measurements of wall hygrothermal behavior to simulations.

Building Science: High Performance Walls
Building Science online slide show presentation on High Performance Light Framed Walls covers advanced framing, insulating sheathing, and air barriers. (PDF)

Building Science: High-R Wall 2x6 Advanced Frame Construction
Building Science: describes features and benefits of a 2x6 high-R wall using advanced frame construction. Advanced framing with insulated sheathing significantly reduces the thermal bridging through the enclosure and improves the thermal efficiency of the fiberglass batt in the stud space. Using insulated sheathing decreases the potential for both wintertime condensation, and summer inward vapor drives, and helps mitigate issues caused by poor construction practices.

Building Science: Hybrid Wall Assemblies
Building Science online slide show presentation on hybrid wall systems describes research results using combinations of materials and approaches to provide optimum performance. (PDF)

Building Science: Joseph Haydn Does The Perfect Wall
Building Science describes features, benefits and considerations for a wall configuration with the thermal control layer outboard of the water, air and vapor control layers, that allow the assembly to be constructed in all climate zones: cold, mixed, hot and humid or dry.

Building Science: Lstiburek Article On The Perfect Wall
Dr. Joe Lstiburek article describes the perfect wall as an environmental separator that must keep the outside out and the inside in, by controlling rain, air, vapour, and heat.

Building Science: Proper Design Of Wall & Roof Systems
Building Science online slide show presentation describes context for residential construction, moisture control, energy transfer, wall systems, and roof & attic systems. (PDF)

CARB: Residential Wall Systems Of R-30 And Beyond
Steven Winters & Associates newsletter article by CARB researchers discusses three well-established High R-value wall systems: double walls, foam sheathed frame walls, and structurally insulated panels. (PDF)

CMHC: NetZero House Deep Wall System
CMHC describes the Riverdale NetZero House Deep Wall System, a double-stud wall system forming a 406 mm (16inch) cavity that is filled with blown-in cellulose insulation to achieve an impressive insulation value of RSI-9.9 (R-56). (PDF)

CWC: Online Wall Thermal Design Calculator
Canadian Wood Council online Wall Thermal Design Calculator provides designers with prescriptive wall assembly solutions complying with national energy efficiency requirements. It is meant to provide enough information that architects, designers, engineers, consultants and contractors can quickly determine suitable wall assemblies for each climate zone in Canada.

Energy Vanguard: How To Fix A Leaky, Underinsulated Exterior Wall
Energy Vanguard describes how he fixed a leaky, underinsulated exterior wall.

Fine Homebuilding: All About Headers
Fine Homebuilding article explains the pros and cons of nine types of headers. (PDF)

Fine Homebuilding: Detail Drawings For Framing Walls
Fine Homebuilding supplies wall framing design tips and construction procedures, including detailed drawings for platform and balloon frame walls, 2x4 & 2x6 thick, openings, headers, rakes, corners, advanced framing and more. (PDF)

Fine Homebuilding: Headerless Wall Openings
Fine Homebuilding says to get excess wood out of the walls you can skip headers where they are unnecessary and use rim joist headers where they are.

Fine Homebuilding: Insulating Walls With No Sheathing
Fine Homebuilding describes how to insulate stud bays from the inside if the building has no wall sheathing or water-resistive barrier. There are two basic approaches, and they start with creating an air gap between the back of the siding and the cavity insulation you plan to install.

Fine Homebuilding: Top 10 Tips For Wall Framing Layout On New Subfloor
Fine Homebuilding online video shows two experienced builders demonstrating ways to be more productive as they measure and mark plates for a new multi-family home.

Fine Homebuilding: Wall Framing Layout
Fine Homebuilding online video shows how to measure and mark wall plates so sheathing seams are centered on studs every time.

GBA: Choosing A Superinsulated Wall System For Canadian Home
Green Building Advisor looks at options for exterior walls on a Canadian high-performance home.

GBA: Choosing High-Performance Wall Assembly
Green Building Advisor discusses factors around choosing a high-performance wall assembly, and compares double 2x4 walls to a 2x6 wall with exterior foam insulation.

GBA: Choosing The Right Wall Assembly
Green Building Advisor discusses whether to choose a double-stud wall filled with fluffy insulation, or a single wall wrapped in a layer of rigid foam insulation.

GBA: Creating High-Performance Walls
Green Building Advisor describes details of the exterior High Performance walls that manage heat, water, vapour, and air.

GBA: Designing Superinsulated Walls
Green Building Advisor describes superinsulated 14-inch-thick double-stud walls, that once filled with cellulose insulation will perform at R-53.

GBA: Detailing Exterior Walls In Minnesota
Green Building Advisor discusses how best to build an energy-efficient wall design that will be free of mold and last a long time in a cold climate.

GBA: Framing & Air-Sealing Tips For High-Performance Walls
Green Building Advisor online videos describe techniques for framing and air sealing Passivhaus walls.

GBA: Is Double Stud-Wall The Path To Efficiency On A Budget?
Green Building Advisor Q & A discussion provides various opinions on whether double wall construction with blown fiberglass insulation is worth the extra cost, and what other options might work well.

GBA: Service Cavities For Wiring & Plumbing
Green Building Advisor describes how designers of superinsulated houses are developing new ways to disentangle plumbing and electrical utility runs from insulated wall and ceiling assemblies.

GBA: Using Larsen Truss For Retrofit Applications
Green Building Advisor Q & A describes benefits and considerations for using a Larsen truss system to retrofit an older home for increased wall insulation. Also provided are links to sources of more information.

Home Energy: Insulating Wall Cavities
Home Energy magazine describes options and procedures for insulating existing wall cavities.

Home Innovation: 2X4 Walls With 1-1.5" Exterior Insulative Sheathing
US Home Innovation Research labs Construction Guide: Next Generation High Perfromance Walls addresses walls constructed with 2x4 wood frame studs, wood structural panel sheathing (WSP) as wall bracing and added backing for foam sheathing, a layer of rigid foam sheathing insulation up to 1.5 inches thick over the WSP, and a cladding system installed over the foam sheathing. It is applicable to low-rise residential buildings up to three stories in height, in Climate Zones 3-5. (PDF)

HPO: Building Smart with Safe & Durable Wall Assemblies
BC Housing online Building Smart video describes issues and considerations for building safe and durable wall assemblies.

JLC: A Conventional High-R Wall With Plate & Beam
Journal of Light Construction online video discusses a partnership between Tyvek and Owens-Corning to create a high-R wall using conventional off-the-shelf materials.

JLC: Better Corner Nailing For Drywall
Journal of Light Construction online framing detail provides better nailing for drywall and access to insulate wall corners.

JLC: Building & Raising Exterior Walls
Journal of Light Construction describes one crew’s methods for running an efficient job of building and raising exterior walls.

JLC: Framing Eaves & Rakes
Journal of Light Construction says full-size drawings and a handy jig speed layout and minimize the chance for errors when framing eaves and rakes.

JLC: Layout Lines For Exterior Walls
Journal of Light Construction describes how to layout lines for exterior walls so as to get everything straight and square now to avoid headaches later.

JLC: Layout Tricks For Rough Openings
Journal of Light Construction describes some framing layout tricks for rough openings. (PDF) Free site registration required.

JLC: Rake Wall Framing
Journal of Light Construction describes how to frame, sheathe, and side before lifting the walls.

JLC: Solutions To Common Framing Problems
Journal of Light Construction article by a wood-frame expert that cites some of the most common framing errors, along with practical solutions for each. (PDF) Free Registration Required

NRCan: Insulating Walls
Natural Resources Canada online guide Keeping The Heat In describes how to insulate walls, including blown-in insulation, renovating the interior and exterior, miscellaneous spaces, and additions and new construction.

RDH: 2x6 Wall + 2lb Spray Foam Without Exterior Rigid Insulation Not Accepted As R-22
City of Vancouver, based on this letter from RDH Building Engineering, says use of 2lb spray foam with 2x6 framing without additional exterior rigid insulation will not be accepted as compliant with the Vancouver Building By Law R-22 effective requirement. (PDF)

US DOE: Energy Efficient Durable Walls
US Department of Energy online slide show presentation Construction Guide: Energy Efficient, Durable Walls covers strategies to design and build high performance walls, for climate zones 3-5, that increase energy performance and reduce moisture issues in walls. (PDF)

US DOE: Extended Plate & Beam Wall System Concept Investigation
US Department of Energy report Extended Plate and Beam Wall System: Concept Investigation and Initial Evaluation describes a new and innovative High-R wall design that uniquely integrates foam sheathing insulation with wall framing such that wood structural panels are installed exterior of the foam sheathing. (PDF)

US DOE: High R-Value Walls Without Exterior Rigid Insulation
US Department of Energy report Construction Guidelines for High R-Value Walls without Exterior Rigid Insulation is intended to reduce the risk of failure in these types of assemblies, increase durability, and reduce material brought to landfills due to failures and resulting decay. Although this document focuses on double-wall framing techniques, the majority of the information about how to properly construct and finish high R-value assemblies is applicable to all wall assemblies that do not have foam insulation installed on the exterior of the structural sheathing. (PDF)

US DOE: Modeling Enclosure Design In Above-Grade Walls
US Department of Energy guideline Modeling Enclosure Design in Above-Grade Walls describes how to model and interpret results of models for above-grade walls, and analyzes the failure thresholds and criteria for above-grade walls. (PDF)

US DOE: Moisture & Structural Analysis For High Performance Hybrid Wall Assemblies
US Department of Energy research report Moisture & Structural Analysis For High Performance Hybrid Wall Assemblies analyzes hybrid wall assemblies that are a combination of exterior insulation, diagonal metal strapping, and spray polyurethane foam, and leave room for cavity-fill insulation. These systems can provide effective thermal, air, moisture, and water barrier systems in one assembly and provide structure. (PDF)

US DOE: Practical Residential Wall Systems Of R-30 & Beyond
US Department of Energy report Practical Residential Wall Systems Of R-30 & Beyond describes three approaches that use readily available materials, and are buildable by contractors without substantial additional equipment or sub-contractors: Double framed walls with blown or sprayed insulation; 2x4 or 2x6 insulated, framed walls with exterior rigid foam insulation; Structural insulated panels (SIPs). (PDF)

US DOE: Rigid Foam Insulation For Existing Exterior Walls
Building America Solution Center describes issues and considerations for installing rigid foam insulation on existing exterior walls.

US DOE: Unvented Roof Systems & Advanced Framing Strategies
US Department of Energy allows access to the online video of their High-Performance Enclosure Strategies, Part I: Unvented Roof Systems and Innovative Advanced Framing Strategies webinar. It focuses on methods to design and build roof and wall systems for high performance homes that optimize energy and moisture performance. Presenters are Joe Lstiburek and Vladimir Kochkin.

US HUD: The Rehab Guide, Volume 2: Exterior Walls
US Department of Housing and Urban Development rehabilitation guide provides an overview of exterior wall framing that includes wind and seismic resistance information, design and engineering, masonry brick veneer, sheathing, insulation, siding, stucco, exterior trim, sealants & caulks, and paints. (PDF)
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