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.