Nailing Tips for Walls Framed to Reduce Thermal Bridging
Originally published by: Journal of Light Construction — April 1, 2012
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Q.I can see the value in advanced framing in terms of reduced thermal bridging, better insulation, and savings in framing lumber. But I've hesitated to get serious about it because I worry that the absence of some familiar framing member is going to make life more difficult for the trim guys. Are there any tricks the framing crew can use to provide better nailing for trim?
A.David Joyce, owner of Synergy Construction in Leominster, Mass., responds: Advanced framing - also known as OVE (optimum value engineered) framing - eliminates structurally unnecessary elements like double top plates, door and window headers in nonbearing walls, double trimmer studs, and multiple studs in partition corners. Where necessary, metal connectors - such as drywall corner clips - are added to strengthen connections. This can cut lumber use by 20 to 30 percent. Energy savings are harder to quantify, but I'd guess they're in the 20 percent range.
Our company uses advanced framing routinely, and my experience has been that it's up to the trim guys to adapt to the framing method, not the other way around. With a little practice, it's not really difficult. When running baseboard around a room framed with two-stud corners, for example, we like to cope the corners, with the coped end nailed to the stud. The square-cut end doesn't need to be nailed to anything, because it's held in place by the pressure of the coped joint that's butted against it. You just have to find the studs and plan your copes accordingly.
Fastening door and window trim effectively is generally just a matter of angling the nails inward so they'll hit the single trimmers. In some cases, a little extra work is necessary. Because ceiling strapping isn't used in advanced framing, there's no nailing for the upper edge of crown molding on the side of rooms where the ceiling joists run parallel to the wall. In this case, we cut small triangular blocks from scraps of framing lumber, nail them through the drywall to the top plate, and fasten the crown to the blocks.
If we're installing raised panels on a surface that lacks a nailing base - such as under a chair rail - we apply some construction adhesive to the backs, press them into position, and drive the fasteners directly into the drywall, angling them enough to provide some grip. In this case, it's the adhesive that actually does the work; the nails are simply there to hold the material in place until it sets up.
All this may sound kind of shaky if you're used to finding solid framing everywhere you might want to drive a nail, but the reality is that materials fastened to advanced framing are more resistant to cracking and movement than those in conventional framing.
This point was driven home to me a few years ago when we had a callback over a cracked corner in a tiled shower. It was the only cracked finish material in the entire house - and it happened to be at the only non-OVE-framed corner in the place. I'd been so concerned about getting a reliable corner in that area - knowing that it would be finished with expensive tile - I'd pulled out all the stops and constructed a multi-stud corner secured with HeadLok screws and glue. But as the lumber shrank, the corner opened up a full 1/8 inch, while all the floating two-stud corners elsewhere, fastened with drywall clips, were in perfect shape