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发布日期:2021年05月10日
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Green Building Blog
Working With Tstuds

How to use Tstuds to beef up the energy-efficiency profile of exterior wall framing

Plan view of 2x6 Tstud in exterior wall framing
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As with much of the building industry, wall framing is continually evolving. Our firm, Steven Baczek Architect, keeps an open mind when it comes to new products. For a current residential project, we are using the as a main component for the exterior wall framing. The house’s small size, simple form, and straightforward framing plan created the perfect proving ground to use the Tstud for the first time. While dimensionally similar to the common 2×6 solid stud, the Tstud provides a substantial reduction in thermal bridging, and has three times the strength a conventional 2×6 stud. Coupled with insulating exterior sheathing (R-9) and blown cavity insulation (R-29), it creates the basis for an exceptionally efficient wall frame with a whole-wall R-value of 30. The benefit of the Tstud is the cavity insulation between the stud chords, which does not exist in solid-stud framing. While the insulating sheathing does provide a thermal break, we chose to use the Tstud to further enhance the thermal break of the wall assembly in its entirety. 

Because this was our first time using the product, it was essential to thoroughly consider and review a few typical details. Both an exterior wall rough-framing plan and an elevation plan were drawn to determine the specific areas of interest. As illustrated, the Tstud has different widths for the two chords. However, the dimensions remain the same—one is oriented 90° in relation to the other. The result is that one face yields a 1-1/2-in.-wide surface (the spline), while the opposing face has a 2-1/2-in. surface (the flange). Following conversations with the framing contractor, we decided to use the flange as the exterior face of the framed wall. That size face created a better nailing surface for the exterior sheathing. The wall board subcontractor then used the spline as a recognizable dimension.

One of the details we reviewed was a stud-framed outside corner—typically called a California Corner. We used two Tstuds (detail A) to create a “Missouri Corner,” a nod to the project location. Notice the orientation of the outside flanges to avoid conflict in the framed corner. A 1×4 drywall backer was used as a drywall catch on the open framed side of the corner. (This could be substituted with a drywall clip to further eliminate wood in the exterior wall.)

Elevation drawing

Detail B shows a cross section where an interior partition wall will intersect the exterior wall. The 2×4 ladder blocking was installed laterally between two Tstuds and located roughly 24 in. o.c. vertically. This can be seen in the exterior rough-framing elevation drawing.

Given we would be using blown-in insulation in the wall cavity, and the fact that the Tstud is an open web, we had to address the window rough openings, which would allow the blown insulation to escape. The solution was to integrate a standard 2×6 jack stud for a lateral cavity closure (detail C2). The adjacent Tstud serves as the king stud for the rough frame of the window opening (see elevation drawing). 

In detail C1, you can see the adjacent king stud continues to the bottom plate on one side of the jack stud, while the cripple Tstud supports the rough sill on the opposing side of the 2×6 jack stud.  

In terms of code, the IRC considers the 2×6 Tstud a direct substitute for the common 2×6 solid stud, providing the Tstud is vertically oriented. All code requirements that apply to typical framing members apply to the 2×6 Tstud, which can be cut at any length. Although it is recommended to avoid cutting any dowels, a lateral cut to one dowel is acceptable; two or more cut dowels are not.

In summary, we found the Tstud to be easily integrated into the project—its enhancement of the assembly far outweighs the little to no disruption in the framing construction process. We firmly recommend it to others in the industry, and are apt to use it in future projects. 

_________________________________________________________________________

-Alexandra Baczek is an associate at Steven Baczek Architect. She is a graduate with a Master of Architecture from Roger Williams University. Illustrations by the author.

30 Comments

  1. User avater
    Steve Baczek | | #1

    Very well done!!! Keep up the great work. Looking forward to a very bright future

    1. User avater GBA Editor
      Kiley Jacques | | #3

      We are thrilled to have her on board, Steve.

      1. User avater
        Steve Baczek | | #15

        I am very excited for her!!! Thank you for your help

    2. Deleted | | #7

      “[Deleted]”

  2. Steve Knapp CZ 3A Georgia | | #2

    Can you share some cost comparison? How did the t-stud material and labor costs match up against standard framing? And did your encounter any issues sourcing the t-stud?

    1. Alexandra_Baczek | | #5

      We had no issue sourcing the T-Stud material with the help of Mark Willie. As for the cost, the material cost is more but we found the labor cost given to be the same as a one for one trade. I would suggest having a conversation with Mark Willie for more information on the project. You can find him on Instagram and LinkedIn.

      1. Joe Braun | | #24

        This sounds like sales speak to me.
        Where were the savings in labor?  What do these t studs do to make them easier to install?  I've read through the article a few times and don't see any labor savings mentioned, in fact, it seemed like it was a little more involved because of the blown-in insulation.  

        The benefits listed are that they provide thermal bridging and are stronger structurally, only vertically though.   We don't need dollar amounts, just because prices change often, but it would be nice to know the percentage.  For example, the t stud cost X% more than a 2x6x8, but we were able to save X% of hours on framing because of this.  

        It would also be nice to know if this project was sponsored in any way.  I only say that because your firm is part of the build show network and I have seen Matt talk about these in the past video.  My guess is this was a sponsored build like a lot of Matts's videos are.  There is nothing wrong with that, but it would help clarify your position.

        1. Alexandra_Baczek | | #25

          Joe I will try and break this down as best I can for you. In terms of savings in labor nowhere did we identify that there was a savings in labor. In fact, I believe the framer did not alter his cost at all for using the T-Studs. Nowhere did we cite the T-Stud to be easier to install. The framer found them indifferent. The blown-in insulation has nothing to do with the cost of framing as that is a different contractor. I understand that blown-in insulation costs more than batts, but blown-in insulation was always a part of this project as it is our favored method. As for material cost, we can say they were more expensive but we cannot speak about the financial dealings of our clients and builders we associate with. Our firm is part of the build show network and we contribute to it regularly to identify sound building practices, this house has already appeared in build show videos. However, that is due to the builder and the architect being contributors.

  3. Doug McEvers | | #4

    I have to wonder about the blown insulation fill around these T-studs. Some nooks and crannies created that might have insulation voids. They (t-studs) basically rule out the use of standard batt insulation.

    1. Alexandra_Baczek | | #6

      The web members of the T-Stud are generously placed, going to blown insulation ensures the cavity will be entirely filled. We have no concern about creating any voids at all.

    2. User avater
      Steve Baczek | | #16

      There is a pre-insulated version of the T Stud, that would allow for the use of batts

  4. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #8

    Alexandra,

    Thanks. This is exactly the write up about T-studs I've been hoping to see.

    At the risk of boring everyone (I say the same thing every time T-studs come up on GBA), what will determine whether they achieve widespread use is probably very similar to I-joists: Competitive cost, and availability as a commodity item in lumberyards.

    Edit: For areas where dense-packed wall insulation is rare, how do they work with batt insulation?

    1. Alexandra_Baczek | | #9

      When we initially made the decision to use this, we quickly ruled out the use of batt insulation for the simple reason of the dimensional change of cavity depth, meaning the open cavity is 5.5" and the space between the chords is a couple inches. That makes it really hard to ensure you are getting a full insulation in-between the chords. My opinion is that we should use a blown insulation with this and not a batt.

      1. Expert Member
        Malcolm Taylor | | #10

        Alexandra,

        That makes perfect sense. I wonder though it that may prove be a third factor limiting the adoption of the system? Batts still constitute the overwhelming majority of the insulation used in walls in North America, and i don't see that changing very soon.

        1. User avater
          Steve Baczek | | #17

          There is a pre-insulated version where they insulate the cavity of the T Stud allowing for the use of batts without voids. As for adoption, you and I know the building industry corners like a freight train, slow to see the light......but we will press on

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  5. User avater
    Joshua Salinger | | #11

    T stud offers a product with insulation inbetween the spline and the flange that could make using batts a practical solution. That being said, there are a lot of issues with bat insulation and avoiding them in lieu of a dense pack or blown in is preferrable.

    1. Expert Member
      Malcolm Taylor | | #12

      Joshua,

      Of course - I had forgotten the insulated version!

      I wasn't so much commenting on the relative virtues of the different types of wall insulation, as much as the reality that if batts are what builders use, that would create an obstacle to their adoption.

      For me local availability is the biggest impediment. When I do a take-off, the framing package comes from my lumberyard. The advantage of dimensional lumber is I can use any extra interchangeably on other parts of the project on interior walls, as plates, blocking, bracing, or integrate it into the next job. If I need more, it's as close as my local hardware store. If they had a pile of T-studs that would change everything.

    2. User avater
      Steve Baczek | | #18

      Thank you

  6. Wooba Goobaa | | #13

    The dense pack ... cellulose, mineral wool, or fiberglass? Cheers

    1. User avater
      Steve Baczek | | #14

      I think any of those would work well

      1. Expert Member
        Malcolm Taylor | | #19

        Alexandra or Steve,

        I'm probably getting bit far into the weeds here, but if you were using the insulated version where the two parts of the stud are aligned, would you still have used dimensional lumber for the jack-studs, or another T-stud instead?

        1. User avater
          Steve Baczek | | #20

          No, I don't think we would have, that being said the solid jack does provide solid wood for attachment at full depth of the wall. his can be pretty easily overcome with a little planning -Have a Happy New Year Malcolm!!

          1. Expert Member
            Malcolm Taylor | | #21

            Cheers Steve. Great discussion!

        2. User avater
          Steve Baczek | | #27

          Thanks Malcom - Happy New Year, always welcome your discussions.

  7. User avater GBA Editor
    Peter Yost | | #22

    Spot on Alex!

    Love all the details--wonder where you learned how to make those clean and compelling?

    With all of the exchange in the comments including your business partner, y0u can title your blogs:

    "Back to Baczeks..."

    or, given the juxtaposition of your work stations:

    "Back-to-Back Baczeks..."

    :-)

    1. Alexandra_Baczek | | #23

      Thank you Peter! Love it!

    2. Charlie Sullivan | | #30

      I, for one, would back the Back-to-Back Baczeks Blog. Almost as good as the Bob Loblaw Law Blog.

  8. Andy S | | #26

    Can you share a little bit about how the other trades work is impacted (or not) by the T studs? I'm curious about electricians and where they'd be able to staple the wires? I'm sure pulling wire horizontally in the wall is pretty easy.
    Any pushback from the plumbers? HVAC?

    1. Alexandra_Baczek | | #28

      The electricians were indifferent to using the T-Stud. Given this is a high performance home plumbing and HVAC is non existent in exterior wall and electrical was very limited. So in general there was no real push back in any way that we ae aware of.

  9. Rick Evans | | #29

    Although they are designed to create a thermal break, these things must a godsend for thick exterior rigid foam. Hitting a 2.5" thick stud is much easier than hitting a 1.5" thick stud when fastening long screws.

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