Bautex Blocks Solve the Challenges of Wood-Frame Construction

Light-wood-frame con­struc­tion* was first uti­lized by car­pen­ters near­ly 100 years ago, replac­ing the heavy-tim­ber con­struc­tion typ­i­cal at the time. Light-wood-fram­ing became more wide­spread as the avail­abil­i­ty of cheap machine-made nails and prop­er­ly cut and planed pieces of wood increased. Today, light-wood-plat­form-frame con­struc­tion** is pop­u­lar in the Unit­ed States because it is light, quick, renew­able, and does not require heavy tools or equip­ment. Wood-frame com­po­nents are also eas­i­ly cus­tomiz­able. How­ev­er, archi­tects, con­trac­tors, and build­ing own­ers have sev­er­al sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges asso­ci­at­ed with wood-frame con­struc­tion: water intru­sion, fire, insects, and dura­bil­i­ty. There are also sev­er­al small­er prob­lems like exces­sive waste, poor acoustics, and lim­i­ta­tions on archi­tec­tur­al styles. Nev­er­the­less, even with these chal­lenges, wood- frame con­struc­tion con­tin­ues to be com­mon in the Unit­ed States.

Challenges and Problems with Wood-Frame Construction

Moisture Accumulation within the Wall Assembly of Wood-Frame Construction

Ener­gy-effi­cient wood-frame build­ings can be vul­ner­a­ble to mois­ture accu­mu­la­tion in the wall cav­i­ties. High mois­ture with­in a build­ing’s cav­i­ties is seri­ous because mois­ture can lead to wood rot and cost­ly repairs. High mois­ture can also cause the growth of mold, which is unhealthy to the occu­pants of the build­ing. A wood-frame build­ing enve­lope must con­trol mois­ture entry, accu­mu­la­tion, and removal. Con­trol­ling mois­ture with­in a wall cav­i­ty is chal­leng­ing to builders and design­ers because effec­tive meth­ods that pre­vent mois­ture from enter­ing a wall cav­i­ty may also pre­vent the mois­ture from leav­ing the wall cav­i­ty. Man­ag­ing mois­ture in wood-framed build­ings requires prop­er selec­tion of mate­ri­als for the par­tic­u­lar cli­mate zone, prop­er man­age­ment of the heat, air and vapor flow through­out the building’s enve­lope, and man­age­ment of rain and oth­er pre­cip­i­ta­tions. To pre­vent decay and the growth of mold, the design of a high-per­form­ing wood-framed build­ing must pre­vent accu­mu­la­tion of mois­ture with­in the wall assem­bly.

Fire Protection in Wood-Framed Construction

Wood is com­bustible*** and vul­ner­a­ble to fire dam­age. Wood-frame build­ings are espe­cial­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to fire dam­age dur­ing con­struc­tion before builders have placed fire pro­tec­tion over the frame****. The chal­lenge to con­trac­tors of wood-framed build­ings is to pre­vent poten­tial fires and, in the event of a fire, to lim­it the spread of flames. Restrict­ing the spread of fire is accom­plished by cladding the wood-frame in mate­ri­als that resist heat and flames and treat­ing the wood with fire retar­dants. Fire pre­ven­tion and resis­tance are essen­tial and chal­leng­ing issues to builders of wood-framed struc­tures.

Termite Problems with Wood-Framed Construction

Wood-frame con­struc­tion is prone to ter­mite prob­lems, which can dam­age a building’s dura­bil­i­ty and cost thou­sands of dol­lars in repair. Ter­mites are a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem in warmer cli­mates: the south, south­east, west, and south­west of the Unit­ed States (U.S). How­ev­er, there are ter­mites in every U.S. state but Alas­ka. It is essen­tial dur­ing the plan­ning and design phase of a wood-framed build­ing to include ter­mite pro­tec­tion in the con­struc­tion phase. How­ev­er, ter­mite pro­tec­tion appli­ca­tion dur­ing con­struc­tion is chal­leng­ing and requires spe­cial­ized equip­ment and a trained pro­fes­sion­al. Pre­vent­ing ter­mites from attack­ing a build­ing is essen­tial to main­tain­ing the integri­ty of a struc­ture. It can also save build­ing own­ers mon­ey down the road. In fact, the annu­al esti­mat­ed cost of ter­mite dam­age and con­trol mea­sures in the U.S. is $5 bil­lion.

Disaster Resistance of Wood-Frame Construction

Ensur­ing that a wood-framed struc­ture has the strength, dura­bil­i­ty, and resilience to resist storms, flood­ing, tor­na­does, hur­ri­canes and even earth­quakes is chal­leng­ing and expen­sive. In earth­quake prone areas, anchor­ing a building’s foun­da­tion is essen­tial to avoid­ing struc­tur­al shifts and the threat of water seep­age. In tor­na­do and hur­ri­cane prone areas, builders must fol­low strict build­ing code stan­dards to ensure a min­i­mum lev­el of resis­tance to wind loads and a con­tin­u­ous load path***** to the ground. Also, the walls, roofs, win­dows, and doors must be mis­sile resis­tant (fly­ing debris). With­out this resis­tance, there can be sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to the building’s enve­lope. Con­struct­ing a dis­as­ter resis­tant wood-framed build­ings is pos­si­ble; how­ev­er, it can cost 25 – 30 per­cent more than stan­dard con­struc­tion.

There are oth­er, less sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges to wood-frame con­struc­tion. Wood-frame con­struc­tion often requires a lot of resiz­ing and shap­ing of the lum­ber. This process cre­ates much waste, along with a finan­cial loss to the client. Anoth­er chal­lenge is that wood fram­ing has lim­it­ed archi­tec­tur­al styles and ele­ments. It might not be pos­si­ble to include large spans, can­tilevers, and large and numer­ous win­dows in the design of a wood-framed build­ing. Con­struct­ing a wood-framed build­ing with ade­quate sound insu­la­tion is also chal­leng­ing. While these chal­lenges are not as seri­ous as water, fire, insect and dis­as­ter resis­tance, they can be just as impor­tant to the client.

Avoid the Challenges of Wood Construction with Bautex Wall Systems

The Bau­tex™ Wall Sys­tem solves or reduces many of the chal­lenges of light-wood-frame con­struc­tion. Bau­tex Blocks are mois­ture-resis­tant, fire-resis­tant, pest-resis­tance and dis­as­ter-resis­tant. Also, Bau­tex Blocks are noise-reduc­ing, low-main­te­nance, pest resis­tant, ener­gy effi­cient and healthy. The ben­e­fits of con­crete con­struc­tion make Bau­tex Wall Assem­bly a smart mate­r­i­al choice for today’s builders. Also, Bau­tex Block build­ings are aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleas­ing and flex­i­ble in their design options. Bau­tex Block build­ings are an excel­lent choice for builders who want to avoid the chal­lenges of wood-frame con­struc­tion.

  • Bau­tex Block Wall Assem­bly is Dis­as­ter Resis­tant. Bau­tex Block Wall Assem­bly meets the FEMA 320 and FEMA 361 guide­lines in storm zones with pos­si­ble wind speeds up to 250 miles per hour. The Bau­tex Blocks also meet or exceed ICC-500 and FEMA stan­dards for debris impact.
  • Bau­tex Block Wall Assem­bly is Ener­gy Effi­cient. Bau­tex Block Wall Assem­bly cre­ates an ener­gy effi­cient build­ing enve­lope that is com­pli­ant with the lat­est build­ing codes. Bau­tex Block wall pro­vide an R‑14 con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion; far exceed­ing 2015 IECC rec­om­men­da­tions for mass wall assem­blies.
  • Bau­tex Block Wall Assem­bly is the Healthy Choice. Bau­tex AMB 20 air and mois­ture bar­ri­er applied to the block wall pre­vents air and mois­ture infil­tra­tion to the inte­ri­or of a home. Pre­vent­ing wet and damp spots in a home is vital to stop­ping the growth of mold. Mold is a prob­lem because it pro­duces aller­gens and irri­tants. Touch­ing or inhal­ing mold or mold spores may cause aller­gic reac­tions in some indi­vid­u­als.
  • The Bau­tex Block Wall Assem­bly Keep Noise Out­side. The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem reduces the trans­fer of sound from the out­side to the inside of a struc­ture. 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.
  • Bau­tex Insu­lat­ed Con­crete Block Walls are Fire Resis­tance. Bau­tex Block Wall Assem­bly meet and exceed indus­try’s stan­dard for fire resis­tance. They have an ASTM E119 fire rat­ing of four-hours (twice the two-hour require­ment), and an ASTM E84 report­ed val­ues for flame speed of zero and smoke devel­op­ment of twen­ty. Because the blocks meet the E84 and NFPA 286 they essen­tial­ly meet the NFPA 101 code.

There are many chal­lenges to light wood-frame con­struc­tion includ­ing mois­ture, fire, insect and dis­as­ter resis­tance. Also, waste, acoustics and design lim­i­ta­tion can be prob­lem­at­ic to con­trac­tors. An alter­na­tive to light-wood-frame con­struc­tion is insu­lat­ed con­crete block. Insu­lat­ed con­crete block is dis­as­ter-resis­tant, ener­gy-effi­cient, fire-resis­tant, noise-reduc­ing, pest-resis­tant, low-main­te­nance, and healthy. Archi­tects, con­trac­tors, and build­ing own­ers can avoid the chal­lenges of wood-frame con­struc­tion by choos­ing insu­lat­ed con­crete block as an alter­na­tive to light-wood-frame con­struc­tion. For more infor­ma­tion on the chal­lenges and solu­tions to wood-frame con­struc­tion vis­it Bau­tex Wall Sys­tems.

*Light-wood con­struc­tion is used for fram­ing, fas­ten­ing, foun­da­tion lay­ing, truss-framed and plank and beam con­struc­tion for new con­struc­tion, remod­els, main­te­nance and repairs, and addi­tions.

** Plat­form fram­ing is a light wood-frame con­struc­tion method. Each floor in plat­form frame con­struc­tion is framed inde­pen­dent­ly by nail­ing the hor­i­zon­tal fram­ing mem­ber to the top of the wall studs.

***Wood (cel­lu­lose) is com­posed of car­bon hydro­gen, and oxy­gen (cel­lu­lose for­mu­la is C6H10O5). When com­bined with oxy­gen and heat, wood will burn.

****Build­ings are espe­cial­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to fire dam­age dur­ing con­struc­tion pri­or to plac­ing fire pro­tec­tion over the frame. For exam­ple, March 25, 2014 in Hous­ton, Texas an apart­ment build­ing went up in flames dur­ing con­struc­tion; https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​9​N​-​e​H​4​GbbJg

*****A con­tin­u­ous load path is the best defense towards hold­ing a build­ing togeth­er dur­ing high winds. A load is a force act­ing on a build­ing. The con­tin­u­ous load path ensures that when a load, includ­ing lat­er­al (hor­i­zon­tal) and uplift loads, attacks a build­ing, the load will move from the roof, wall and oth­er com­po­nents toward the foun­da­tion and into the ground. The pur­pose of a strong con­tin­u­ous load path is to hold the roof, walls, floors, and foun­da­tion togeth­er dur­ing an extreme wind event.