Revolutionizing Construction: Discover the T-Stud Insulated Framing System

Revolutionizing Construction: Discover the T-Stud Insulated Framing System

Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

Welcome to our latest building system episode where we unveil a significant advancement in the construction industry: the T-Stud Insulated Framing System. We’re joined by our regular guest author, Matt Risinger, from The Build Show, who will guide us through this innovative building system that addresses the timber framing challenges faced by builders in the USA.

Traditional 2×4 inch timber framing, prevalent in spec homes or homes built to sell in New Zealand and Australia, has long been the go-to method due to its history of cost-effectiveness and availability. However, it has presented builders with issues such as limited space for insulation and services. The problem of wet timber twisting when drying out is particularly exacerbated by New Zealand’s overzealous use of timber treatment throughout the build, making the already wet timber even wetter – and even more prone to twisting, cracking, and failure during drying.

The larger 6×2 or 8×2 inch timber framing used in the USA, while offering more room for services and insulation, still has its own set of shortcomings. Enter the T-Stud Insulated Framing System, a system I learned about a few years ago and still haven’t seen it used on building projects in Australasia. As Matt illustrates, these insulated truss type studs are adding better options in the construction industry. T-Studs not only use less material and are significantly stronger than solid timber 6×2’s, but they also resist twisting and offer excellent thermal insulation. Plus, their environmentally friendly nature – using less wood and producing less site waste – marks a significant stride in sustainable and energy-efficient construction.

Whether you’re a builder or a homeowner seeking construction industry innovations, the T-Stud Insulated Framing System is an innovation I believe you’ll want to learn about. It will make you think differently about framing

Revolutionizing Construction: Discover the T-Stud Insulated Framing System

Video Transcript

For the last 100 or so years, when you’re going to build a house in North America, you make a call to the lumberyard, and they drop off a pile of sticks like this. The problem with traditional framing, though, is everywhere you’ve got a stud, you’ve got a huge inefficiency in your wall. You’ve got a huge thermal bridge in your wall. On the build show today, I’m going to show you a brand new type of framing you have never seen before. Today’s video is sponsored by T stud. Let’s get going. 

Okay, so first, let’s look at traditional lumber. A standard 2×6 is right here. What’s the problem with that? I’ve built a lot of houses out of two-by-six. They are very strong, but the problem is about 25% of our house ends up being wood, and wood is not particularly good at insulating. You’d never build your cooler out of wood, would you? This is roughly our six point eight, whereas the cavity in between our 16 inch studs, we’re going to put, let’s say, in our nineteen bat in there. So compared to the center, this stud is very, very inefficient. 

Now, in today’s video, we’re about to take a tour of this house that’s been framed with this brand new product that I have never seen before. This is called the T stud, and this is what it looks like in the naked version. What you’re looking at, basically, is a truss. You’ve got a 2 by 3 on both sides, and it’s connected structurally with dowels. Then, what they do is, at the factory, they actually use closed-cell spray foam in between there.  

So remember that 2 by 6 that was an R six point eight? This is an R twenty. Can you imagine that? This is as good as that cavity without our 19 bat. So now, we have no need for exterior insulation, that big blanket that I talked about putting on all those houses, because the studs themselves are not conducting the heat through. R 20, that’s pretty cool.  

All right, without further ado, let’s go out in the house and actually show you what it looks like on a whole house framed with the T stud.     

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Okay, let’s start here, guys. This is an uncomplicated part of the house. We’re in the bonus room above the garage, and this, I think, is going to give you the basics on what the T stud is all about.  

So, first off, they’ve run these on 24 inch on center marks, and you can see this is that T stud. This is actually five-and-a-half inches deep, so the same depth as a standard two by six. And then here on the front, though, this is where it differs. We’re actually two and a half inches wide on the flange. So, in effect, it’s a two by three with another two by three, and then those dowel rods. And you can see here, they come to the jobsite in a pallet, already foamed in the center. 

But if you look at this from a wide angle, you can see what I really like about the system. We’ve got a single bottom plate right here. You’ve got studs at 24 inch centers, and then you also have a single top plate on here.  

With the T stud, as well, because that T stud is a truss, you’ve got a lot more strength. We’re going to talk to the inventor in a minute, who’ll tell us the specifics. But I love how, if you look at this exterior wall right here, you basically have that foam that’s in the center all the way down the wall.  

And that’s how they are able to get these into an R 20. So now, when we put our 19 bats in, let’s say on this 2 by 6, you actually have more insulation value at your studs than in your cavity, which is totally different.  

Now, the electricians have just started on this house, and there’s also a couple of interesting things when it comes to electrical. The electrician’s actually just going to poke through here because there is a void, and you can do that with a screwdriver. Then all he’s going to do is stab his wire through. No drill necessary. 

Now, in this case, we’ve got framing below us, so they’re fastening with these screws right here. Because we’ve got that two and a half inch wide bottom plate, you can’t use just a standard 16 penny nail. You actually need at least an inch pin, Edmund. So you’ll see they’ve staggered these screws, and they’ve screwed them down. 

Now, in other parts of the house where we’re on concrete slab on grade, they’re going to have a Jay bolt that’s going to come up in the center of this foam here. And then they’ve got a big wide plate that’s going to go on top of that, so that that Jay bolt will transfer its hold down power to this bottom, or pardon me, to the kind of top and bottom cord, so to speak, on this T stud.  

And then, where walls come together, it looks like the framers framed this wall here separate from this wall. They put a strap. You’re going to see that on typical standard top plate or single top plate type framed, advanced framed houses. And that’s what they’ve done here. They put a strap there. They’ve also done that in this corner here, where they’ve strapped the corner together.  

And they frame this with what we call a California corner. So this wood right here is just going to hold drywall up. And they’ve done a good job of holding that back a little bit inside the corner so that insulation can go all the way back through. 

Man, what a totally wild, totally different system that I’m used to seeing! Okay, this is something interesting too. They’ve used it for headers. Let’s look at this one first. So we’ve got, it looks like an eight-foot patio door right here. No, it’s bigger than that. It’s actually a nine-foot patio door.  

Now, we’re on a gable end right here, so we don’t have a lot of load. But look what they’ve used. They’ve used T studs for the headers as well. So, in effect, you’ve got an insulated header. They’ve run these horizontal single top plate all the way down, and then they’ve got three T studs acting as a header. 

Same with these windows over here. If you look at these windows over here, they’ve got a single T stud in the center, which again is insulated. That’s that R 20 stud. And then they basically just pack the cavity.  

The framers said that it was actually easier to do it this way than it was to put a bunch of small cripples in there. So again, you’ve got that continuous top plate all the way across there. And then here, they’ve got their king stud and their jack stud. And those two right there are helping with load as well.  

And then these two studs that are in here, they’re basically just drywall nailers. They’re just holding it. But again, because it’s an R 20, they’re providing insulation. So now, you’ve got an insulated, structural header. You can basically eliminate all of your normal lumber that you might use for headers. So your LS LS, your LVLs, all those things that we might have to build in the field and a sandwich capacity with some insulation in between. You can eliminate that, and you do that with the T stub.  

Pretty cool, isn’t it? What a unique system. Simple, yet something I’ve never seen before. Pretty wild. Let’s go grab Jesse, the Builder, and see what he thinks about these.  

Hey, guys, I’m here with the Builder of this house, Jesse. Jesse, thanks for having me on your job, man.  

“My pleasure.” 

Is this your first time using T stud? 

“Oh, this is not. This is probably our 15th time using T studs. We’ve been solid T studs for a little over two years now.”    

Dang. Did you tell me earlier that your own house was the T stud house that you built? 

“That’s correct. About to a little over two years ago, my own personal house was the first T stud house built.” 

So two years later, what’s it been like? 

“You know, as a builder, the biggest difference I’ve noticed, and come to appreciate, is the fact that we’ve got in this freeze-thaw cycle we’ve got up here, Minnesota, yeah, you tend to get your builder callbacks on your nail pops, your sheetrock settling, and things like that. And we’ve seen a drastic reduction in any of those going to call that. There’s one year marker when you’re normally going back to fix that stuff. A lot less because of this.” 

What do you attribute to that? Do you think? 

“For us, I think it’s, it’s got to be the stability of the T stud and the thermal break in there. Traditional wood studs are in this climate. You know, you’re building in the rain, you’re building the snow. Those things just tend to dry out, and they can buckle on you. So for us, we’ve just seen a lot of stability with these studs.”    

Jessie, what’d your framer think about this, either the first time or now, 15 houses later? 

“Yeah, well, we’ve got a couple different framing crews, and like anything in this industry, guys move a little slower. And so the first time they saw this, there was definitely some swear words. But by the second or third house, they were jumping at the bit to get to another T stud house. And they’ve really come to appreciate the differences in the framing, the lightness of the walls. And so they’re actually able to speed frame a T stud houses a little bit quicker than they can do a traditional house because of the less weight.

That’s kind of cool. Less wood framing, two feet on center versus 16 on center, single top plate. So yeah, they can stand up longer walls with less guys. I hadn’t thought about that. You got a single top plate to sue. Now, that wall’s a little lighter because you’ve got a little less weight overall. Two-foot centres, single top plate. That’s cool.  

Now, tell me about Calvo. You know, when we get a typical SPF framing package, let’s say, there’s at least, you know, 5% of those studs that go back to the lumberyard or in the trash or coming from blocking. What’s your, what’s your waste factor on these with the T studs? 

“You know, we’re probably looking at less than 1%. Rarely do we send one back. And if we do get a little bit of twist in there, then we just end up it either using it for a onto our window or something like that. So okay, so very little waste.”   

Hey, guys, I’m here with the inventor of the T stud, Brian Iverson.  

Now, Brian, I know people watching this video at this point are thinking, “Can this really replace a 2 by 6 for its structural value?”  

What would you say to that? 

“I can tell you that it’s, we’re actually four times a 2×6. No matter if they’re made out of LVL or LSL, all feel they call this the x-axis. They all fail in the x-axis because they Bend out a deflection if you get too much of a load on it because we’re pressuring down. That’s, that’s wanting to curve out, basically.” 

Exactly. So because we turned the boards perpendicular, we stopped the ability of the board to deflect under a load in that x-axis anymore. So that was the only way we fail is just like a tree standing in the forest. It, we want the weight to go straight down. So we actually go take the weight all the way down.  

“So we’re actually certified to hold eight thousand six hundred pounds versus only about 2,200 pounds for a 2×6 and about 900 pounds for a two-by-four.” 

Wow. Quite a bit stronger, Bryan. That’s pretty cool.  

“Yeah, I can admit it was impressive. A two-footer held thirty thirty-six thousand pounds.” 

Oh my gosh, that’s crazy.  

“Yeah, Bryan. When I look around the house, I don’t see that there’s any color difference between bottom plates and studs. Are you selling pressure-treated, or how we keeping termites rot, that kind of thing happening at the bottom plates?” 

“We’re going to start treating all of our products with next-gen. So it’s a four in one solution. Rot, mold, fire, and termite all in one. So you’ll have the option to buy them with all treated or just the plain T studs by themselves.” 

So you can actually get a Class A rated T stud. Is that right? 

“That’s right.” 

Now, Bryan, tell me about options. This is the T stud they used here, which is basically like a two by six replacement. What are the other options we could buy from you? 

“Okay, so this, we call this the Barenaked T stud. So it’s the same frame if you’re going to do spray foam in the cavity. You can spray us in the, in the field itself.” 

So that, so frame the house with the naked T stud, no insulation in already.  

“So this is in the wall, correct. And this is your demo to show that, right? So, here’s your sheathing on the outside. The T stud now is here. And so then you could spray from the bottom plate, let’s say from your slab, spray in between and continuous from the slab all the way to the roof line, right?” 

Correct. And you run, put the Barenaked T studs in, run all your electric old wiring, security system, whatever you want to run through.  

So you can run everything you want through there and then spray foam us and in the. So you can either do you know one, two, three inches or all five and a quarter inches of foam, whatever however you want to see that. And that way you have solved for almost all of your transitions of where you could potentially have air leaks coming into that cavity.

Plus, if you’ve got two pounds spray foam that you’re spraying that with, you’re adding a ton of structure, right? I’ve seen tests before with two inches of closed cell foam and just half-inch sheathing where a two by four shot out of a hundred mile an hour can and will bounce off. So my guess is you’re going to add a lot of hurricane, tornado resistance to the house as well if you did this method.

“So we’re already hurricane compliant and seismic compliant by ourselves with just this T stud. This T stud, we know that we’re going to be able to pass all the hurricane testing without the sheathing on.”

And then, tell me about this guy right here.  

“We actually did the Boston Passive House Conference, and they have asked us for an R 30 T stud because they want to get rid of all the staggered stud walls.” 

Dang. So this is an R 30 version.  

“Our thirty place basically a two by eight where we are equal in strength to a two by eight in a wall up to 16 feet tall with that, but we only have five inches of fiber.” 

Wow, that’s pretty cool.

“In our value thirty, so we actually heated up that wood member to 200 degrees, and we had no transfer to the other side after eight hours.” 

Wow, that’s pretty neat.  

“It’s impressive, Brian. I gotta say, I’ve never heard of this before. Thoroughly intriguing.” 

So, for people watching this video, whether you’re someone who’s about to build a house or a builder, how do we buy this? How do we get a hold of your product? 

“You have a couple of options. You can have your lumberyard contact us, and we’ll set them up as a stocking dealer right away. If there’s nobody stocking in the area, we will bundle up whatever that you need to have, and we’re going to ship it to you direct. Just have a forklift there to pick it off. And so we’ll ship directly out of Canada. I don’t, or we’ll send partial loads to the lumberyard. We’ll do whatever it takes to get the T studs out there.” 

That’s pretty cool. So how do people contact you, Brian? What’s the best way to get a hold of you guys? 

“Sales at T stud.com. The letter T then stud.com.” 

Fred, can you guys help builders out there, let’s say, if I’ve got a house coming up in two months, I’m going to pour a slab for. Can you guys help do the takeoffs if I’ve got a traditionally framed a house and convert that to a two sub takeoff? 

“Yeah, we’ll do those right away. We’ll actually try to half ways try to compare ourselves to a 2×6 or whatever yet you were going to do, especially when it comes to U value calculations or the average R-value. We can show you the U value through this.”   

For those of you who are educated, U value for this is 0.03 to 3.  

Brian, last question. I know people are going to be asking, cost. Tell me about let’s say a standard 2500 square-foot house. What’s the Delta? How much more are we going to pay for a T stud compared to traditional number? 

“Okay, so the average house in North America, 2500 square feet. So we’re a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars extra versus a two by six.” 

“So the more complex the house, obviously, the more costs to have involved. We have a couple of 2,800 square foot two-story houses going right now, full basement walkouts. They’re extremely complex. Ten-foot on the main floor, second floor nine feet tall, and we’re 5,000 extra.” 

And that’s the retail price today. That’s amazing.  

“And then there’s going to be some deduct, right? I mean, my guess is with an R twenty stud, you’re probably going to use less of a heating and cooling system. You may, you may be able to forego the geothermal that you might have might have wanted for efficiency because now you really don’t need it. You could use more standard, let’s say, VRF equipment.” 

“You’re going to get fantastic airtightness when you couple this with a Huber zip system on the exterior, right? Because we’ve got a really tight envelope.” 

It’s impressive stuff, guys. Thanks, Brian, for having me out for sponsoring today’s video. What an incredible trip from Texas up here to Minnesota to see what these guys are doing. 

Check out Tstud.com. If you’re not familiar with my videos, we’ve got new content every Tuesday and every Friday. Hit that subscribe button below. Otherwise, follow us on Twitter, Instagram. We’ll see you next time on the build show.

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