These varying roles and the range of possible material choices require you to “mix and match” appropriate materials to create a complete assembly. There are many possible combinations that may work together as a system to suit your criteria.
Wood framing is the most common type of structural wall in North American residential construction. There are two categories of wood framing:
Stud framing — A system of regularly spaced wooden posts or “studs” supported by a horizontal sill plate and topped with a single or double horizontal top plate to create a lightweight wall frame. Studs are typically placed at 16- or 24-inch intervals and made from 2×4 or 2×6 lumber. Insulation is placed within the framing, and (increasingly) on the exterior of the frame. Frame walls can be built with unconventional spacing to accommodate non-standard insulation types, such as straw bale. Openings in the wall are built using lintel beams to transfer loads to doubled studs on either side of the opening.
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Double stud walls are becoming more common to create extra thickness for additional insulation and avoid thermal bridges. A double stud frame with a 2×4 exterior wall and 2×3 interior wall can use a similar amount of wood as a single 2×6 wall while offering superior thermal performance.
Timber framing or post-and-beam — Solid timbers of large dimensions (usually 6×6 or greater) are used to create wall, floor joist, and/ or roof truss systems. The use of large-dimen-sion wood for posts and beams increases the spacing between posts, allowing for much larger open spans than stud framing does. The expected loads determine the sizing and spacing of the beams, posts, joists, and roof members. Some codes include span charts for timber frames, but it is common to require a professional designer to determine spans and bracing requirements.