Stick Built – The Standard of Residential Construction

Stick built construction is industry slang for wooden stud construction where walls are build using 2″X4″ or 2″X6″ dimensional lumber generally on 16” centers (with 16 inch wide vertical intervals). The majority of building materials are built to accommodate these dimensions. Plywood and plywood substitutes like OSB (a mix of wood chips and glue impregnated with formaldehyde) are 48″ X 96″ in size as is drywall and most other sheet and dimensional materials. This makes nailing and screwing patterns compatible with 16″ increments for all interior and exterior surfaces and finish materials like cabinets and fixtures.

Energy efficiency has moved the standard toward 2X6 construction to accommodate thicker types of insulation to achieve higher insulation yeilds. Some green building techniques utilize 2X4 with enhanced insulations like blown in foam or 2X4 and 2X6 construction on 24″ centers (intervals). This (less stud) design requires additional diagonal bracing to make up for the reduction in structure.  The tradeoff is that reducing the stud interval reduces the passing of temperature unlike the insulated cavities.

While stick built energy efficiency can be improved using additional and improved insulation, stick built still has limitations in its ability to survive hurricane winds above category 4 or 145 MPH. Better mandated foundation connections, metal hurricane straps to keep the roof attached to the walls and a growing selection of hurricane shutters to protect window openings all add to the survivability of stick built homes in hurricane susceptible areas. Owners of stick built home should make upgrades using these methods to reduce their prospects for damage. That said, when a hurricane greater than Category 2 is on the way, residents are advised to evacuate. Flying debris may be stopped by shutters but can easily penetrate wood walls. Storms that develop beyond forecast wind-speeds can compromise structures and the people sheltered inside. In the final analysis, stick build homes are not hurricane survivable beyond category 3 hurricanes.