When building a home, budget is, of course, a very important consideration. The overall cost to build a house is not the only thing new homeowners are concerned about, though. Building a quality home that will remain structurally sound is also extremely important. Because of this, clients often ask about 2×4 versus 2×6 walls. They want to know how much more it costs to build a house with 2×6 walls rather than 2×4. Also, they want to know if the extra expense is really worth it. Well, let’s dive in and figure out the answers to both of these questions.
2×4 versus 2×6 Walls: How much more does it cost?
How much more does it cost to build a house with 2×6 walls? Well, the answer is dependent on several factors, including the size of the house. Of course, the bigger the house, the more wall studs you’ll need. That means, it will cost more to frame a bigger house with 2×6 walls than a smaller one. In order to discuss some concrete numbers, however, let’s look at an example using a 3,200 square foot, stick-framed home.
Consideration #1: Framing Materials
For this discussion, we are going to use a 3,200 square foot home with a wall height of 9 feet. (So, it needs 9-foot studs.) This house requires 4,276 square feet of framing with porches and patios, which is approximately 580 studs. So, let’s take a look at the numbers…
- This house will use approximately 580 studs.
- The cost difference between 2×4 and 2×6 studs this month is $3.00. (Lumber prices vary weekly.)
- So, the extra cost in studs is $1,740.00, plus tax.
But we’re not done… We also have to consider the top and bottom plates. These are the boards that make up the top and bottom of the walls, connecting the studs together. So, let’s look at these numbers…
- This house requires 1,859 linear feet of lumber for plates.
- The difference in cost between 2×4 and 2×6 plates is (currently) $0.32 per linear foot.
- So, the extra cost in plates is $594.88
Add all of this together and, so far, going from 2×4 to 2×6 walls costs an extra $2,334.88 in lumber. But we aren’t done, yet…
Consideration #2: Insulation
Not only do 2×6 walls require more lumber, but they require more insulation, as well. So, let’s take a look at those numbers…
If fiberglass batt insulation is used, an R-13 batt fits into a 2×4 wall, while an R-19 batt works in a 2×6 wall. (R-value refers to the insulation’s resistance to heat flow. The higher number, the better the resistance.) In our 3,200 square foot example house, 4,671 square feet of insulation is needed. That means…
- The difference in cost between R-13 and R-19 is (currently) $0.05 per square foot.
- For this house, that’s a difference of $233.55.
And remember, that extra money is for batt insulation. If you want to use foam insulation, the cost difference will be even higher. And we still aren’t done…
Consideration #3: Outside Doors
There are two other items to consider–door jambs and thresholds for the outside doors, which will be two inches deeper. That’s going to cost about another $100, give or take.
So, how much more do 2X6 walls cost?
So, for our 3,200 square foot example house, if we add all of this together…
- $1,740.00 (plus tax) for studs
- $594.88 for plates
- $233.55 for batt insulation
- $100.00 for door jambs & thresholds
That’s $2,668.43 additional cost for 2×6 walls versus 2×4.
2×4 versus 2×6 Walls: Is the extra expense worth it?
Now for the real question… Is an extra $2,700 to have 2×6 walls (with batt insulation) really worth it? Well, here is my professional opinion…
With regards to structural soundness…
Because of the sheeting system we use standard at Elements Design Build, paying extra for 2×6 walls is unnecessary. The plywood or zip system sheeting we utilize in all our homes offers the same structural advantages as 2×6 walls. (Of course, we are happy to use 2×6 walls, if they are an important feature to you.)
With regards to insulation…
If you are going to use batt insulation, then the extra expense of 2×6 walls is worth it because they allow space for R-19. If, however, you plan to use foam insulation in your home, then 2×4 walls are the best choice, as the sheeting system we use allows for a structurally sound home without spending extra on 2×6 walls.
We would be happy to discuss the advantages of foam insulation, along with the price difference of batt versus foam with you. Please, contact us for more information.