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Building Your House With 2x6 or 2x4 Framing

Updated on September 14, 2016

2x6 vs 2x4 Framing

I remodeled and built houses for about four years. When I first started, I did not expect that there would be a difference between 2x4 and 2x6 construction. I always thought what was used was 2x4 only, and didn’t realize you could use a 2x6 stud for framing. I was mistaken. I found there really is a distinction in framing with 2x6 studs. With a 2x6 stud, usually 8ft long, it is used to frame the exterior walls of the house, while 2x4 studs are used for the interior. Whether you use 2x4 or 2x6 is something you must think about and decide prior to deciding to build.

When building your house, the 2x6 or 2x4 decision can be summed up by what cost differences you will save. With 2x6 construction, the biggest savings you will get will be over long term. This is by the grade and thickness of the insulation that is allowed with the 2x6 exterior walls. You can put in a thicker and denser insulation such as R-19 or R-21 wall insulation with the 2x6 combined with having 24 inch centers rather than 16 inch between studs. This will be an energy savings for you that will come back to you over time.

You can also allow for more insulation of pipes and wiring because there is more space. If you are in a colder climate, this will be a huge benefit for you. The down side is the cost in the short term. When you build, the 2x6 studs will be more expensive, you will also have to make adjustments to windows and doors because of the width of the 2x6. Doors jambs will have to be adjusted by using door jamb extenders which will increase the costs. The insulation itself is also an extra cost because it is a different size.

You have just as much stability using 2x4 construction as you would with 2x6 construction. The idea that a 2x6 frame is more stable is not accurate. The short term of 2x4 construction will be the cost of the lumber itself will be a lot less. It is sometimes up to 40 percent less than a 2x6 stud.

In the end, it is up to the future owner to decide what is good for the house. A contractor may have his own opinion, but if you research it and are aware of the costs and savings, the decision may favor the 2x6 framing. I personally prefer a house with 2x6 construction, and if you are planning on selling in the future, it may be a psychological plus to buyers and realtors to have it done as well.


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    • tchenruiz profile image

      tchenruiz 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Thanks for the article. The choice of using 2x4 vs. 2x6 for exterior walls also has to do w/ regulations. If your jurisdiction requires your project to meet certain energy performance threshold, you'll need to use 2x6 for the stated insulation thickness. Also, plumbers prefer 2x6 interior plumbing walls.

    • Dave Framer profile image

      Dave Framer 6 years ago

      nice and informative, 2x6 are a lot harder to frame up, but according to size and complexity of home, for structural purposes we did a lot of 2x6 walls, wall height or a lot of windows