Give em’ an inch and they’ll take… 24.

5 Aug

As we work and toil on projects spanning from Coast to Coast and beyond…

I’m going to take a minute to address something that’s come up a few times in the last 45 days.

So, off to the mail bag!

Dear Ronin:

You’ll be pleased to know that our ISBU Fabrication and construction of our first 20′ High Cube “module” is underway.

However, I have a question;

We’ve elected to use sheetrock in the interior of the home. In part it’s because processing and priming OSB to use as interior sheathing is a real bear if you don’t have “The patience of Job” for all those thin coats.

(Editors Note: Me thinks that my “Woosy Detector” just went off… 😉

Using OSB – Oriented Strand Board (or even plywood – like Birch, for example) instead of sheetrock does bring several benefits to home builders working with a really tight budget. But, it isn’t without it’s “perils”.

It does require more “sweat equity”. Priming and painting OSB requires that you prepare it with thin coats of paint applied in direct sunlight to prevent the furry “blooming” you get as the OSB absorbs the moisture in the paint. There are several easy ways to accomplish this.

However, unlike sheetrock (gypsum board), OSB doesn’t crack, it doesn’t sag and it WILL endure the “road trip” to it’s new home (without requiring repair from “road damage”),  as you truck that ISBU component to it’s site.

Plus, it means that you can hang a picture anywhere you want… 😉

And while some “debate” the use of this material for this purpose, I find that it’s usually the people who have no experience with it that speak out the loudest. But I digress… ) 😉

They go on to say (before I so rudely interrupted them);

Our subcontractor wants to move our frame spacing to 24″ (from the 16″ on center that you specified) to save on material and labor.

He says that we can still use the same sheetrock (it’s already sitting here rarin’ to go!) to clad the interior, after he’s framed it out using the new stud spacing. 

Is this true, or should we be concerned?


Babes in the Woods…


Dear Babes,

Your Framing Subcontractor is DEAD WRONG.

In days past, it was considered “traditional and conventional” to frame out homes using 16″ stud spacing.

Once your framing was completed, your Sheetrock guys showed up with a truck full of 1/2″ gypsum board (sheetrock) and completed your interiors in the traditional “screw/tape/mud/sand” process. If you were lucky, it wasn’t “Chinese Sheetrock”… 😉

And if the sheetrock crew knew what they were doing, it went quickly and pretty smoothly. There IS indeed an art to hanging sheetrock and some of those guys are truly masters of their trade.

However, in “the days we face”, where contractors are milking every job they can for maximum profit (usually not because they’re greedy, but because the industry is taking a pounding thanks to the economy) some compromises are starting to show up regularly.

One of the “new framing schemes”  is to move your studs out to 24″ OC (on center) and then sheetrock over them.

Fewer studs means a big savings in time and materials. If thought thru carefully, this “reduced stud technique” will work structurally.

BUT… if you do that, you CANNOT use 1/2″ sheetrock to “span your gaps”.

That 24″ is a LONG way for 1/2″ sheetrock to span safely.

Your wall performance is going to suffer dramatically.

When you increase the distance between the studs, you need to increase the thickness of the sheetrock to “gain back” what you just gave up.

That means that you need 5/8″ thick sheetrock now.

5/8″ sheetrock is over 50% stronger than 1/2″ sheetrock. That means that it won’t sag, flex, or fail due to pushing a material beyond it’s limits.

You already have your sheetrock sitting there. Unless he’s planning on replacing all your sheetrock with thicker material…

… tell your framing sub to “Shut up and keep framing”… according to the plans he was given.

Otherwise, the sheetrock crew that will come in behind him will discover the pit he dug for them and he’ll probably get a few drywall screws embedded in his head.

If that doesn’t work, call me and I’ll straighten him out.

Note: No subcontractors were injured in the creation of this post.

However, one of them might be kinda pissed off, now that he has to do his job the way it was drawn. 


2 Responses to “Give em’ an inch and they’ll take… 24.”

  1. Joe3 August 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    And that’s the truth…….Well said !! Hanging, and especially finishing sheetrock is an ART.

    So where is the cost savings, if there is one? Framing? Sheetrock?

    • Renaissance Ronin August 5, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

      Hi Joe,

      A framing sub will tell you that it’s cheaper and faster to shoot 24″OC studs. But you’ll pay more for thicker gypsum board, so…

      If I shoot 16″OC Studs and then use OSB, my wall sheathing is cheaper. (I suppose that I could spec 24″OC using OSB, but I LIKE the performance I get using 16″ spacing. Why build a Superior shell and then build inferior walls? It just doesn’t make sense to me. In my view, more is better.)

      Plain and simple… OSB is cheaper than sheetrock. It’s easier to work with, too. And it’s more rigid, more durable, and more resistant to damage caused by moving the ISBU to it’s new home, while USING it saves you cash.

      Anyone who says otherwise, isn’t USING it (meaning they don’t get their hands dirty), or lacks experience…

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