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Thread: Best way to frame a 12 ft wall

  1. #1

    Best way to frame a 12 ft wall

    So I am ready to start framing my new shop this weekend. 20x40 stick frame on slab, Hardie siding shingle roof. Was going to do 10ft walls. Now thinking 12 ft tall. What’s the best way. Using 2 x 4 not 2 x 6. Use 12 ft boards or use 8 ft and put pony wall on top. The straightness of the wood is more concerning than cost thoughts?
    thanks
    gary

  2. #2
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    Material supply would definitely play a roll here if I was making the decision. (both quality and the cost for that quality in the longer pieces vs the need for additional horizontal members for pieced together) So would things like available labor and lifting capability. If I were doing a high-window design, I'd absolutely do the two piece wall, but maybe 10' and 2' instead of 8' and 4'. I don't know that there is any "best way", but I'm not a builder, either. So my opinion may not be worthy from an expertise standpoint.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    When I built my organ shed with 14 ft tall walls I used full length 2x6 studs spaced 24"OC. We did the same in the house where they were 12' tall. I've found that 2x6 lumber seems to be of consistently better quality than 2x4 (with longer lengths of consistently better quality than 8 footers), the cost is similar between 2x6 24" OC and 2x4 16" OC for the same strength wall, labor is slightly less, and the walls are that much easier and cheaper to insulate at a higher R value with less thermal bridging through the framing. You pretty much need to use spray foam in a 2x4 wall to achieve what dense pack cellulose will do in a 2x6 wall at about a third the price. At least here in New England I wouldn't even consider 2x4 framing unless I was doing a super efficient double 2x4 wall with offset studs to completely eliminate thermal bridging (a great approach if you're going for net zero.)

    I think if you break the wall into two sections you need to pay particular attention to connectors, sheathing, and nailing schedules for the sheathing, especially if you have wind, earthquake, or snow load shear forces to contend with. You might be required to get an engineer's stamp on your drawings if you go that route, depending on your inspector.

  4. #4
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    also, 2x6's are typically straighter..
    ~mike

    scope creep

  5. #5
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    "Use 12 ft boards or use 8 ft and put pony wall on top. The straightness of the wood is more concerning than cost thoughts?"

    DON'T PUT A HINGE IN YOUR WALL

    full height studs, have to have a tie at your plates, 8' studs with 4' pony wall equals cross ties at 8' high, defeats having 12' high walls
    2x6 on 24" better than 2x4 on 16" or 19 3/16"( most new tapes have a mark for this layout, 5 studs per 8')
    good luck
    Ron

  6. #6
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    My vote is 12' boards. Give the pile a look if you can when picking them up.

  7. #7
    If you're really worried about straight, you could use LSL's (Laminated strand Lumber) They will be very straight and at least here in NE Ohio, right now they are a little cheaper than equal length sawn lumber (although still stupid expensive compared to last year). They are heavy though, and make standing a big wall up more challenging. But I think you will find that 12 foot 2x4s from a decent supplier will be plenty straight enough for framing, assuming you set aside the occasional really wonky stick from the pile.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  8. #8
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    It occurs to me that what Ron brings up is something I didn't think about with my original post...If these walls were just to enclose an existing pole building or something, piecing them together isn't an issue. But in your case, you're stick building full walls that are load bearing and opposite walls need to be tied together...and where that happens matters structurally. I'm also going to suggest that you reconsider 2x4 vs 2x6 for 12' walls, especially if you're not going to be dividing the space up into rooms. The extra "two inches" can make for a big jump in stiffness and strength. More choices for higher levels of insulation, too.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
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    Another vote for the 2x6 approach. I find the typical 2x6 to be of better quality, and the insulation advantage is a big win.

    Also (and this is probably really obvious on this particular forum, but just in case because I have met many who were unaware of this)... many lumber yard provide much better lumber than the big box stores AND they pick and deliver for free (although I generously tip the driver who also unloads the material into my shop). All for a minor price premium (I've found it to be less than 10% usually) that is well worth paying compared to my time, energy, desire for good quality.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  10. #10
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    I'm also a believer in 2x6 studs, as Roger W. mentioned. I used 2x6 on 16" centers in my shop. I also noticed 2x6 lumber was straighter and better quality in general than 2x4, perhaps because 2x6s have to be cut from larger diameter and more mature trees. I've see numerous 2x4s with pith in the middle and wane on both sides indicating they were cut from very small trees. Also, the I found the lumber quality from a real lumber yard better than that from the big box stores.

    Gary, I wonder if another option for your 12' walls is to build with time-honored post and beam construction. Post construction has certain advantages and allows flexibility in framing between the posts since the walls are not load bearing. I built my shop with 6x6 posts spaced 10' or 12', double or triple 2x10 beams, 2x6 wall studs, and three layers of 1/2" ply or stranded sheathing (two outside, one inside) which serves as bracing, trusses with 2x6 chords, and an admitted excess of diagonal bracing in the attic. Using 6" walls does take away a small amount of interior space but it gives significantly more room for wall insulation, useful if you plan to condition the space.

    BTW, my house is post and beam timber frame construction with 8x8 and 6x6 above-ground posts; I used in-ground PT posts for the shop. I've built three other smaller farm buildings with the same type of construction and am about to start on another one, 24x72'. This property came with three other "pole barn" buildings with similar construction, probably built in the 1920s or '30s.

  11. #11
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    John has a good point. As a guy that was formerly in sales/project management for a post-frame (aka "pole barn") construction company, I got to learn a lot about that style of construction... I was very surprised to learn that it is suitable (and can offer advantages such as better insulation values) for uses extending way past agricultural use.. we built hospital wings, houses, dream garages, workshops, fire houses all post-frame. Exterior finishes ranging from steel, hardi, or vinyl through stone and brick veneers.

    That said... if you're building it yourself and would need to learn post-frame approaches, it could feel a bit overwhelming to have to learn it all especially if you already have a good understanding of stick framing. For some reason the topic of how to insulate and finish walls is a constant debate point (but really is a simple topic). Anyways, I won't bore with the details but am happy to share more if post-frame is a consideration.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  12. #12
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    I use 2X6 (or wider) boards for exterior walls. Mostly for seismic, snow loads and insulation. Plus, dimensional lumber pretty much sucks nowadays. The wider boards are generally straighter. I'd buy 12' lengths. Trying to stand a wall on top of another wall might end up in a disaster, plus you loose that tie between the base place anchor and hurricane clips at the top plate. Run some horizontal blocking at the 4 and 8 foot levels.

    The post and beam / pole barn option above would also work.

  13. #13
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    Don't wuss out on the tall walls because it is too complicated. In a shop with an 8' ceiling, you're constantly whacking the ceiling or the lights with your workpieces. A 12' ceiling is much much better.

  14. #14
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    When I built my shop I did 10' ceilings with plywood on the walls and cheapened out for sheetrock on the ceiling. Even with 10' ceiling, once in a while I will ding the ceiling. Something to consider.
    Ken

  15. #15
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    12' ceilings would be very nice, scissor trusses also
    Just don't put a hinge in the wall and expect the wall to stay straight
    Ron

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