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.