Building a House With 2x6 or 2x4?

    Lots of people ask how much it costs to build a house with 2x6 walls rather than 2x4. Sometimes they ask if 2x6 wall construction is really better than 2x4. Let's dive into the answers to both questions.

    Of course, the bigger the house, the more wall studs your walls require. That’s why it will create more construction costs to frame a bigger house with 2x6 walls than it will a smaller one. I'll give an example of an average-size house so you can get an idea. I'll give an example of an average-size house so you can get an idea.

    Do The Math on the Building Materials

    I'm currently building a 2,354 square foot home with a 2-car garage (488 square feet). That's 2,842 square feet of framing. The wall height is 9 feet, so 9 foot studs.

    • -This house will use approximately 540 studs.
    • -The cost difference between 2x6 and 2x4 studs this month is $2.83.
    • -So the extra cost in studs is $1,528.20 plus tax. 

    We have the top plate and bottom plate, which refer to the 2x4 (or 2x6) boards that make up the top and bottom of the walls, connecting the studs together. At the top, there are 2 boards, and at the bottom there is one. The one on the bottom, at least for the 1st floor of a house, is treated to resist moisture.

    • -This house requires 630 linear feet of treated 2x4 (or 2x6), and 1,260 feet of regular.
    • -The difference in cost between 2x4 and 2x6 treated is $0.32 per linear foot.
    • -For the treated bottom plate, that's $198.90.
    • -The difference in cost between regular 2x4 and 2x6 this month is $0.14 per linear foot.
    • -For the top plate, the total is $172.01.

    How Your Framing Affects Other Building Materials

    Insulating-walls.jpgSo far, we've added up the cost of the lumber so we know that going from 2x4 to 2x6 framing costs an extra $1,700.21 in lumber. We also need to take take additional costs of insulation into account.

    If we use fiberglass batt insulation, we can get an R-13 batt (R-value refers to the insulation's resistance to heat flow, the higher number the better) into the 2x4 wall, and an R-19 batt into the 2x6 wall.  In this house, there is 3,027 square feet of insulation.

    • -The difference in cost between R-13 and R-19 is $0.05 per square foot.
    • -For this house,  that's a difference of $151.35.

    There are 2 other minor items to consider: door jambs and thresholds for the outside doors, since they'll be fit into 2x6 walls, and the window sills, which will be 2 inches deeper. That's going to cost about another $100.

    If we add all that up, the total is $1,951. 56.

    What Should You Use in Your Home?

    So, when deciding whether it's worth it, you'll have to consider 3 things:

    • 1. How bad you just want 2x6 walls, regardless of what anybody says about whether they're that much better.
    • 2. If you're doing it for energy savings, how long will it take you to recover in utility bills the amount you spent on 2x6 walls.
    • 3. If you're doing it for structural soundness, you might ask yourself how many homes are built with 2x4 walls that have been standing for 50, 60, or 70 years.

    For more information on the process of home building on your own land, download my free guide From Raw Land to Forever Home.

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