Solving the 7 Problems with Light Frame Construction Using ICF

Light frame con­struc­tion has long been the standard for many new buildings. It was one of the first frame building tech­niques that was really able to be utilized on a mass scale, but it’s not without its faults. We’ve since developed better strate­gies than light wood frame con­struc­tion for putting up buildings. The inad­e­qua­cies of this con­struc­tion have really come to light in comparison.

If you’re thinking about putting up a new building, it’s a good idea to study up on light frame con­struc­tion and the many ways in which it is vul­ner­a­ble and inferior to other con­struc­tion materials like insu­lat­ing concrete forms (ICFs).

Light Frame Construction Issues

Here are 7 problems with light frame that may have you second guessing this type of construction.

1. The Increasing Cost of Light Frame Construction

Lumber prices are at an all-time high right now. This is due to tariffs levied on timber back in 2017 and raging wildfires as well. The price increase has reached such extremes that the average price of a light wood frame con­struc­tion-built home is expected to rise by up to $9,000.

2. Termites Love Light Frame Construction

Everybody knows termites love wood. When you make the frame of a building out of wood, you’re putting yourself at risk of losing poten­tial­ly thousands of dollars in having to combat the problem. Termites can wreak havoc on the struc­tur­al integrity of a building and lead to severe con­se­quences down the road. Termite-proofing a building is also very chal­leng­ing and costs extra.

3. Light Frame Wood Construction is Prone to Mold Growth

If your building is in an area with high humidity levels, you could find yourself dealing with a mold problem. High humidity creates a condition where moisture can condense inside the cavity of framed walls, which then gets absorbed by the wood and leads to wood rot as well as mold. Mold can then create problems for occupants of your building who might have asthma or sensitive lungs.

4. Light Frame Construction is Less Energy Efficient

Light frame con­struc­tion has limited energy effi­cien­cy potential due to thermal bridging and lack of thermal mass. In typical frame con­struc­tion, insu­la­tion is installed between the framing which means 25% of the wall has no insu­la­tion in it. The wood or (worse) metal studs create a path for energy to come into a building which reduces the energy effi­cien­cy of a building. Secondly, light frame con­struc­tion does not benefit from thermal mass which helps to absorb heat energy and increase energy effi­cien­cy Other materials like stone or ICFs have a high thermal mass, thus allowing them to store and release heat through­out the day. Light frame con­struc­tion is less energy efficient than other building systems.

5. Light Frame Construction is Vulnerable to Extreme Weather

Wood doesn’t hold up well in extreme weather. It’s pretty fragile when compared with stone, steel, and ICFs like Bautex Blocks. Strong winds can com­plete­ly demolish your building which is a sig­nif­i­cant risk if you live in an area where severe weather is common. It can also be cost pro­hib­i­tive to go the extra length to disaster-proof a light frame building, 25 to 30 percent more in some cases.

6. Light Frame Construction is Far From Sound Proof

Standard framed walls don’t do a great job of absorbing sound, meaning loud noises can pretty much cut right through them. If your building is near a highway or busy urban area, this can be a nightmare. There are ways to make a wood frame con­struc­tion building more sound­proof, but they involve extra measure like staggered studs, doubling up on your drywall, or even opting for a more expensive sound­proof board such as Fermacell.

7. Light Frame Construction is Susceptible to Fire Damage

It’s no secret that a wood frame building will go up in flames much faster than one with a frame made from fire-resistant ICFs. Because fire resis­tance and pre­ven­tion are crucial in any building, you’ll need to do much more to make sure yours is safe in the event of a fire.

Light framing, requires an ignition barrier that helps slow the spread of flames and that can withstand high tem­per­a­tures until occupants have time to retreat from the building. Of course, sensitive areas where a higher fire rating is required will add to the overall cost of construction.

Light Frame Construction Has Too Many Flaws

Light frame con­struc­tion is not as energy efficient as other systems, which will drive your energy bill up. It’s also bad at blocking out sound and easily traps moisture which can lead to mold growth. In addition to this, light frame con­struc­tion is vul­ner­a­ble to fire damage and will require you to put in extra time and resources if you want to help fireproof it.

With ICF options like the Bautex Wall System coming onto the scene, there is really no reason to use light frame wood con­struc­tion anymore. It’s more expensive now than ever and it has a multitude of other drawbacks which make it a far less desirable choice for framing your building.

If you want to construct a durable building, contact Bautex to learn more about a better alter­na­tive to light frame construction.