How thermal breaks help prevent heat loss

Avoiding heat loss is critical to boosting efficiency and comfort in a new home. Walls are typically the largest source of heat loss. Advanced framing techniques and thermal breaks work to control the amount of heat transfer through a home’s walls.

The standard wall built in Oregon and Washington is an R-21. Framing and thermal bridging (the transmission of heat) reduces the actual insulating value to approximately R-17. In this condition, a framing member (typically a two by six stud) runs continuously from the interior drywall to the exterior sheathing. This common construction technique allows more heat loss through the stud itself than in the cavities between each stud, which contain insulation. To prevent thermal bridging, a thermal break should be implemented.

There are a variety of framing techniques that eliminate unnecessary framing members, provide a thermal break and increase insulation. One option is to build a staggered stud wall where the studs are offset from one another. Another option is to build a double stud wall, which provides a thermal break between the studs of each wall and also allows for more insulation. A third option is to install rigid foam board along the outside of the exterior sheathing. Finally, thermal breaks can be implemented in structural headers as well. In this application, a piece of rigid foam board can be sandwiched between two pieces of the header framing to diminish heat transmission.

For more information about framing techniques that help reduce heat loss, download the EPS Field Guide or contact a trade ally coordinator at 1.877.283.0698, option 1.