- framing -
Once our foundation was ready, we moved on to framing.
340 Fairfax is designed for 100-year life. That made it essential to choose a floor system designed to last its lifetime. The natural choice was engineered beams and joists. A properly engineered floor system is simply ingenious. It provides a stronger, stiffer floor, resist bending, bouncing, eliminates twisting, shrinking, splitting, and delivers a flatter, quieter and more stable floor and it reduces waste.
Over top of the joists we used a subfloor material called Advantech.
Advantech is specifically engineered to provide more water resistance and structural
stability compared to conventional and less expensive OSB (Oriented Strand Board).
When the sun comes out, we squeegee the water off. There’s no swelling, no raised
edges and no delamination. Advantec compliments the engineered floor system and left us with a strong, solid floor.
The frame is the skeleton of a house.
A strong frame provides good support for everything that follows. If the frame is weak or poorly designed, expensive finishes or fancy trim will never cover the flaws. Drywall cracks; doors stick, floors squeak and moldings move creating big gaps. Most of the time, these defects don’t show for 4 or 5 years. By then, the repair bill may fall on the owner.
Lots of folks think that all you need for a strong skeleton is just more wood. After all we will never run out of trees. But we’ve learned that more wood doesn’t mean more support.
It’s more about how you put the pieces together. Unnecessary wood is simply wasteful
Too much wood can also threaten indoor comfort. The term Thermal bridging describes what occurs when a poor insulating material is used in wall, ceiling or floor.
Wood is a poor insulator. Compared to insulation, it allows 3-4 times more heat to pass through walls, ceilings and floors. Consequently, every wooden structural component in the skeleton represents a weak spot in the layer of insulation surrounding the house.
Typically these deficiencies make up about 25%-30% of the building shell. Here is an
infrared image showing the heat loss from framing members in a typical home.
Everywhere you see yellow, orange and red represents heat escaping from the house.
Of course this wastes energy. But more importantly, these flaws create cold spots on
inside wall surfaces. Cold spots make us feel uncomfortable. It is called the “cold wall
effect”. On cold days, the “cold wall effect” feels like a draft on your ankles, your arms or the back of your neck. Yet there is no air movement. The cold wall just sucks the heat out of your body. Cold spots also invite condensation and mold growth.
There is nothing good about hidden mold growing inside a wall.
Our goal at 340 Fairfax was to build a strong disaster resistant skeleton that would
support unparalleled comfort. Uncompromising comfort requires an exceptionally well
insulated home. Unfortunately, the “old way” of building and framing houses is totally
inadequate in providing the level of comfort we demanded.
At 340 Fairfax we abandoned the “old way” of framing and substituted state-of- the-art framing techniques. Referred to as advanced framing, these procedures are simply a smarter way to frame houses. The methods reduce waste, without structural
compromise. This provides space for additional insulation. Reducing thermal bridges
enhances indoor comfort and minimizes the risk of condensation and mold growth.
Advanced framing reduced the effects of thermal bridging 40%-50%. But there was still too much heat loss in the framing skeleton to meet our comfort requirements. The
question was, is there a way to reduce the inefficiency of the thermal bridges without
removing the necessary wood for a strong skeleton?
340 Fairfax needed an insulated jacket. So we wrapped all the exterior walls with a
continuous layer of 1-½ inch foam insulation. We used a product called Thermax
insulated sheathing, manufactured by Dow. Now the cold wall effect is gone and the
wood framing stays warmer and dryer.