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What is the Best Framing Option for Your House?

The structure of a house greatly depends on its framing, which provides shape and support for exterior coverings. When selecting the best framing option, consider both upfront and long-term expenses, as each option has its strengths and weaknesses.

For a new home project, cost-effectiveness is a priority. Consider upfront expenses for materials and labor, as well as long-term costs.

Upfront Expenses

Material and labor expenses for framing depend on location, making direct cost comparisons challenging. In many parts of the United States, concrete block and wood framing are slightly cheaper than steel and ICF framing.

Long-Term Costs

When comparing different framing methods, consider long-term expenses such as repairs, insurance, utility bills, and maintenance. Evaluate durability, energy efficiency, and pest resistance. Energy-efficient framing can reduce utility bills.

House framing is crucial for construction, providing shape, support, and a shell for outer coverings. Builders consider initial labor and material costs, as well as long-term expenses for homeowners.

Numerous framing options are available, making it challenging to choose the best one. To assist homeowners and builders in selecting cost-effective and durable framing, we’ll provide the pros and cons of various options, including insulated concrete forms (ICF), wood, structural insulated panels (SIPS), steel framing, and concrete blocks.

Structural Insulated Panel

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) consist of two plywood boards or oriented strand boards (OSBs) with foam insulation in between, often expanded polystyrene (EPS) for the core foam. The end product carries the structure’s loads.

Pros of Structural Insulated Panel

  • SIPs can be installed quickly by contractors, saving labor costs, and producing less waste compared to other framing products.
  • With their thick layer, SIPs can make homes energy-efficient and airtight.
  • SIPs offer smooth and straight walls, facilitating the successful application of interior finishes and exterior cladding.
  • Compared to other framing materials, SIPs offer excellent stability and structural strength against hurricanes, earthquakes, and other calamities.

Cons of Structural Insulated Panel

  • SIPs made of composite structural panels and OSB have poor fire performance ratings.
  • Wet OSB can compromise SIPs’ durability.
  • House design must match SIPs panel dimensions.
  • Insecticides are required to protect SIPs against pests like termites.

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

Installation of ICF walls requires pouring concrete into their hollow panels, isolated between six to eight inches from the reinforced rebar. Prior to pouring concrete, interlocking units must be dry-stacked.

Once the concrete cures, the inner and outer panels create a fixed exterior framework. Electrical and plumbing installation can be done through these panels during construction.

Pros of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

  • Energy-efficient ICFs keep homes airtight, reducing energy use and utility costs.
  • Solid, thick ICF walls provide acoustic comfort.
  • Excellent strength and durability result in long-lasting homes.
  • Lightweight ICFs are easily and efficiently installed by contractors.
  • ICF construction can continue in adverse conditions, saving money on costly delays.
  • Moisture-resistant ICFs control water accumulation on interior walls.

Cons of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

  • The process of putting the concrete into the ICF might require the expertise of skilled and qualified contractors. These experts are knowledgeable when it comes to the quantity of concrete that will be poured at a time to prevent the risk of a blowout.
  • ICF panels are vulnerable to groundwater intrusion. As a result, builders must incorporate drainage tiles and sheeting to reduce the negative impacts of moisture. Consequently, these additional expenses will be added to the overall costs.
  • Contractors are required to vibrate the concrete when putting them into the panels which can help in preventing honeycombing.
  • Termites could accumulate through the ICF panels as well as on the small cracks in the concrete and could feast on the flooring, joists, and other wood materials. Using termite-resistant methods could mean additional costs to the ICF process.

Light Wood Framing

Light wood framing is commonly used by builders in the U.S. Typically, they are created from softwood trees.

Pros of Light Wood Framing

  • Light wood framing can be easily carried by builders, making it quicker to install without the need for heavy tools.
  • Light wood is so adaptable, making it flexible for any design.
  • Light wood is readily available to builders.
  • Using renewable light wood can be beneficial to the environment.

Cons of Light Wood Framing

  • Since light wood is vulnerable to moisture, it could lead to mold resulting in costly repairs.
  • The combustibility characteristic of wood requires builders to use construction techniques that can prevent possible fires. Additionally, the wood-frame structure must be designed in such a way that the spread of fires can be prevented.
  • Termites could damage the wood frame structure and eventually lessen its durability, resulting in costly repairs.
  • Constructing wood framing with sufficient resilience and strength can be challenging for most builders. In addition, it is also expensive. Furthermore, building a disaster-resistant wood framing can cost over 25% to 30% more compared to its standard construction.

Concrete Block Construction

Concrete block is also known as concrete masonry unit (CMU) in the construction industry. Ultimately, manufacturers of concrete blocks uses Portland cement, water, and aggregates in creating them. CMUs can either be solid or hollow and come in various shapes.

Pros of Concrete Block Construction

  • Concrete blocks are moisture-resistant, preventing the development of mold.
  • Since concrete blocks are fire-resistant, they can also serve as a firewall between structures or rooms.
  • It can enhance your home’s durability since concrete blocks are pest-resistant, reducing any future maintenance costs.

Cons of Concrete Block Construction

  • Advanced wall systems using concrete block construction will require additional steps, additional layers, as well as more features. And all of them would require additional money and time.
  • With its industrial appearance, installing a facing such as a stucco will be required in concrete blocks.
  • Concrete blocks are not considered energy-efficient.

Steel Frame Construction

Steel studs with higher gauge metals are required for load-bearing walls.

Pros of Steel Frame Construction

  • With its strength, steel framing can conquer strong winds.
  • Hollow steel studs are lightweight, hence, they can be easily stored and carried.
  • Using recyclable steel in creating metal studs can be a great contribution to the environment.
  • Galvanized studs won’t be affected by moisture. They do not rot or warp and can remain durable and straight throughout its lifetime.
  • Steel studs do not release any volatile organic compounds.
  • Pest control features are not required since the steel frame is termite-resistant.

Cons of Steel Frame Construction

  • Less commonly used dimensions are limited; hence this could slow down the construction process.
  • At high temperatures, steel frame could lose their strength, making them prone to buckling and much worse collapsing.

M-1 Framing Subs Inc. specializes in wood framing, steel framing, and metal framing. For your framing needs, you may call us at 562.362.6074 or send us an email at



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