News Article

Alternative Building Materials for Homes

Today’s home­own­ers want durable homes that are fire- and dis­as­ter-resis­tant. They also want healthy and ener­gy-effi­cient homes with excel­lent indoor envi­ron­men­tal qual­i­ty (IEQ). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the most com­mon prod­uct used in home con­struc­tion, wood, does not ful­fill these require­ments. Wood-frame con­struc­tion has chal­lenges with fire-resis­tance, mois­ture accu­mu­la­tion, dis­as­ter-resis­tance, and dura­bil­i­ty. There are also small­er issues like poor acoustics, exces­sive waste, and lim­i­ta­tions on archi­tec­tur­al styles. The lim­i­ta­tions of wood-frame con­struc­tion push builders, archi­tects, and home­own­ers to con­sid­er alter­na­tive build­ing mate­ri­als, like insu­lat­ed con­crete block (ICB). Insu­lat­ed con­crete blocks are mois­ture-resis­tant, fire-resis­tant, and dis­as­ter-resis­tant. They are also ener­gy-effi­cient, pest-resis­tant, noise-reduc­ing, and cre­ate a health­i­er and more com­fort­able home. The ben­e­fits of ICB make it a wise alter­na­tive build­ing mate­r­i­al for today’s homes.

Problems with Wood-Frame Home Construction

Builders have uti­lized wood fram­ing for home con­struc­tion for near­ly 100 years. It is a well-known and low cost build­ing sys­tem avail­able through­out the Unit­ed States. How­ev­er, chang­ing own­er require­ments and build­ing codes are pre­sent­ing a chal­lenge to this very basic style of con­struc­tion. Cur­rent pri­or­i­ties such as ener­gy effi­cien­cy, storm pro­tec­tion, fire safe­ty, health con­cerns, and desire for longer life spans and low­er main­te­nance costs are push­ing home­own­ers to con­sid­er alter­na­tive build­ing mate­ri­als, like ICB. Still, even with increas­ing aware­ness of the ben­e­fits of ICB, wood-frame con­struc­tion con­tin­ues to be com­mon in the Unit­ed States.

Fire Protection Problems in Wood-Framed Construction

Wood is flam­ma­ble and prone to fire dam­age. Wood-frame homes are espe­cial­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to fire dam­age dur­ing con­struc­tion before the place­ment of fire pro­tec­tion over the wood. The chal­lenge to builders of wood-framed build­ings is to stop poten­tial fires and, in the case of a fire, to resist the spread of flames. Lim­it­ing the spread of fire is done by cladding the wood fram­ing in prod­ucts that resist catch­ing fire and treat­ing the wood with fire retar­dants. Fire resis­tance and pro­tec­tions are chal­leng­ing to con­trac­tors of wood-framed homes and are rarely done in home con­struc­tion. This leaves most home­own­ers at risk.

Moisture Accumulation Problems with Wood Construction.

All wood-frame homes are sus­cep­ti­ble to mois­ture accu­mu­la­tion in the wall cav­i­ties, but this can be espe­cial­ly prob­lem­at­ic for more ener­gy effi­cient wood-frame homes. High mois­ture with­in a home’s cav­i­ties can cause wood rot (due to fun­gi) and the growth of mold, which is unhealthy to the occu­pants of the home. A wood-frame build­ing enve­lope must be designed to resist water intru­sion in any form. How­ev­er, leaks do occur for a vari­ety of rea­sons, so builders must plan for a way for walls that get wet to dry out. This can prove dif­fi­cult because new ener­gy effi­cien­cy codes require homes to lim­it the amount of air infil­tra­tion through the walls, which is how old­er homes were able to dry out. The design of a high-per­form­ing wood-frame home must pre­vent the accu­mu­la­tion of mois­ture with­in the wall assem­bly, but also allow the walls to dry should water intru­sion occur.

Disaster Resistance Problems of Wood-Frame Construction

Con­struct­ing a wood-frame home that has the strength and resilience to resist storms, tor­na­does, flood­ing, hur­ri­canes and earth­quakes is dif­fi­cult and often expen­sive. In earth­quake-vul­ner­a­ble areas, anchor­ing a home’s foun­da­tion is crit­i­cal to stop­ping struc­tur­al shifts and the threat of mois­ture seep­age. In hur­ri­cane and tor­na­do prone areas, con­trac­tors must fol­low build­ing code stan­dards to guar­an­tee a min­i­mum degree of resis­tance to wind loads and a con­tin­u­ous load path to the foun­da­tion and into the ground. Also, a home’s design must include wind­borne debris resis­tant roofs, win­dows, walls, and doors. Build­ing a dis­as­ter resis­tant wood-framed home is pos­si­ble; how­ev­er, it can cost 25 – 30 per­cent more than stan­dard wood con­struc­tion.

Durability Problems with Wood-Frame Construction

Wood-frame homes are espe­cial­ly prone to ter­mites, which can dam­age a home’s dura­bil­i­ty and cost thou­sands of dol­lars in repair. It is crit­i­cal to include ter­mite pro­tec­tion in wood-frame con­struc­tion. How­ev­er, ter­mite pro­tec­tion appli­ca­tion is chal­leng­ing and requires spe­cial­ized equip­ment and a trained pro­fes­sion­al. Pre­vent­ing ter­mites from attack­ing a home is essen­tial to main­tain­ing the dura­bil­i­ty of a wood-framed house.

Advantages of Insulated Concrete Block Home Construction

Insu­lat­ed con­crete blocks, like the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem, is a smart alter­na­tive build­ing mate­r­i­al choice over wood-frame con­struc­tion. Unlike wood-frame homes, Bau­tex insu­lat­ed con­crete block homes are mois­ture-resis­tant, fire-resis­tant, dis­as­ter-resis­tant, and pest-resis­tant. Bau­tex Blocks are also, ener­gy-effi­cient, noise-reduc­ing, and healthy.

  • The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem is mois­ture-resis­tant. The Bau­tex AMB 20 air and mois­ture bar­ri­er, applied to the block wall, pre­vents mois­ture and air infil­tra­tion to the inside of a home. Bau­tex Blocks do not rot or pro­mote mold growth like wood fram­ing should they get wet.
  • The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem is fire-resis­tant and can lim­it the spread of flames com­pared to wood walls. In fact, the Bau­tex Block Wall assem­bly meets and exceeds industry’s stan­dard for fire resis­tance. Bau­tex Blocks have an ASTM E119 fire rat­ing of four-hours. Because the blocks pass the E84 and NFPA 286 tests they meet all of the life safe­ty require­ments of the NFPA 101 code.
  • The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem is dis­as­ter-resis­tant. The Bau­tex Blocks meet the ICC-500 and FEMA stan­dards for debris impact. Bau­tex Block Wall assem­bly also meets the FEMA 320 and FEMA 361 guide­lines for safe rooms in storm zones with wind speeds up to 250 miles per hour.
  • The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem is pest-resis­tant and there­fore eas­i­er and cheap­er to main­tain.
  • The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem reduces the out­side noise enter­ing the home by one-fourth to one-eighth com­pared to wood-built homes. In fact, the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem received a high Sound Trans­mis­sion Class (STC) rat­ing of 51 and a high Out­door-Indoor Trans­mis­sion Class (OITC) per­for­mance rat­ing of 47.
  • The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem pro­vides R-14 con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion; far exceed­ing 2015 IECC rec­om­men­da­tions for mass wall assem­blies. Bau­tex Blocks also cre­ate an ener­gy effi­cient build­ing enve­lope that is well ahead of the lat­est build­ing codes.
  • The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem is healthy because it min­i­mizes it is not sus­cep­ti­ble to mold and mildew growth and pro­vides a very air tight build­ing enve­lope which reduces expo­sure of occu­pants to out­side aller­gens.

The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem solves or lessens many of the prob­lems of light-wood-frame con­struc­tion. Bau­tex insu­lat­ed con­crete blocks are mois­ture-resis­tant, fire-resis­tant, and dis­as­ter-resis­tant. Bau­tex Blocks are also noise-reduc­ing, pest resis­tant, ener­gy effi­cient and cre­ate a home with good indoor envi­ron­men­tal qual­i­ty. The advan­tages of insu­lat­ed con­crete block con­struc­tion make Bau­tex Wall Assem­bly a wise alter­na­tive build­ing mate­r­i­al for today’s home builders. For more infor­ma­tion on alter­na­tive build­ing mate­ri­als for homes vis­it Bau­tex Wall Sys­tems.