Image courtesy of Tstud.
Traditional SPF (spruce, pine, fir) studs are thermal bridges in the frames of your exterior walls due to the default design of the lumber or wood. The thermal bridges facilitate heat gain and loss in summers and winters.
You can now avoid or break those thermal bridges with a new and popular exciting product on the market: T studs. So what are T studs?
Let’s dive into our Ultimate FAQ on this exciting new framing system.
Table of Contents
- What Are T studs?
- What Are the Benefits of T studs?
- T Studs Pros
- 1. T Studs Provide 85 to 99 Percent Thermal Break for Your Frames
- 2. T Studs Can Make Houses 24 to 75 Percent More Energy-Efficient
- 3. T Studs Are Stronger Than Traditional Framing Lumber or Studs
- 4. T Studs Are Lighter Than the Conventional #2 SPF Wall Studs
- 5. T Studs Don’t Bend or Buckle During the Freeze and Thaw Cycles
- 6. T Studs Are Compatible With 8″, 16″, and 24″ On-Center Framing
- 7. T Studs Can Form Columns, Headers, Cripples, etc.
- 8. T Studs Facilitate Continuous Cavity and Void Insulation for Walls
- 9. T Studs Are Protected From Fire, Mold, Rot, and Termite Damage
- 10. T Studs Simplify Construction
- T Stud Cons
- What Are the Standard Lengths of T Studs?
- Can I Cut or Trim T Studs at the Construction Site?
- What Types of Insulation Can I Use With T Studs?
- Are T Studs Code-Compliant in the United States?
- Final Thoughts
What Are T studs?
T studs are framing lumber comprising two engineered wood members (#2 SPF) with interlocking dowels in a truss-like pattern. The studs form a thermal break at the frames of a wall to facilitate exceptional insulation and energy efficiency.
T studs are a better, more energy-efficient, superior replacement for standard lumber used for wall studs.
However, they aren’t typical studs made of dimensional or engineered wood. T studs have two members in a perpendicular alignment with dowels in between them, effectively forming an air gap that breaks the thermal bridge.
Standard studs are a natural thermal bridge because lumber or wood conducts heat, even if its conductivity isn’t as much as other materials, such as concrete.
The T stud air gap is a thermal break, which can reduce conductivity by about 99 percent with continuous insulation for the walls.
T studs’ design and thermal break deliver around a dozen benefits for homeowners, builders, or construction companies.
Apart from the difference and its consequences, there is no significant change in how you install these studs as a substitute for conventional framing lumber, which sure is handy.
Therefore, T studs are a turnkey replacement for traditional lumber with the following advantages for builders and homeowners:
- Patented design
- Stronger studs
- Thermal break
- Energy efficiency
- Choice of insulation
- Sustainable solution
- No special training
- Simpler installation
The original T studs called R19 used the same concept but with two key differences. First, the members of the studs were parallel to one another.
Plus, the company insulated the air gap or thermal break of R19 T studs with the dowels with closed-cell spray foam.
The subsequent version, the BareNaked T stud, comes with something other than closed-cell spray foam insulation from the factory.
So, you can opt for continuous insulation for an entire wall using the BareNaked T studs’ thermal break, and the gaps simplify onsite construction and customization.
What Are the Benefits of T studs?
T studs are easier to install and work with, but most homeowners will likely find the following benefits more valuable:
- Increased structural strength
- Insulated thermal break
- Unmatched energy efficiency
T studs may also reduce sound transmission. However, such an impact is yet to be fully tested.
T Studs Pros
Here are 10 benefits of T studs that have been proven in the field and tested in various types of construction.
1. T Studs Provide 85 to 99 Percent Thermal Break for Your Frames
Framing lumber is used for a house’s exterior and load-bearing walls.
Suppose traditional studs account for about 25 percent of the surface area of the exterior walls of a house.
In that case, you have thermal bridges spanning that much space. T studs reduce the thermal bridge by 85 percent to over 99 percent in some cases.
BareNaked T studs are available in two standard sizes with the following depths:
- 2×6: 5.5 inches (13.97 cm)
- 2×8: 7.25 inches (18.41 cm)
The thermal break is the distance or gap between the two members, i.e., the flange and spline of a T stud. The thermal breaks for the two standard sizes are:
- 2×6 (5.5 inches or 13.97 cm): 1.5 inches (3.81 cm)
- 2×8 (7.25 inches or 18.41 cm): 2.25 inches (5.71 cm)
These thermal breaks apply to most types of insulation used in North American houses. However, if you choose continuous rigid insulation for your exterior walls, the effective thermal break increases for both sizes of T studs.
Suppose you opt for continuous rigid insulation, exterior sheathing, and dense-pack fiberglass with T studs. In such scenarios, the thermal break of BareNaked T studs will be the following:
- 2×6: 2.5 inches (6.35 cm)
- 2×8: 3.25 inches (8.25 cm)
Continuous rigid insulation will make T studs even more effective than dense-packed cellulose or fiberglass as the sole material.
You can attain even better insulation with T studs by using five-inch closed-cell spray foam with an R-value of 6.5 to 7 per inch.
Both 2×6 and 2×8 T studs are compatible with five-inch closed-cell spray foam. Here are the effective R-values with the impact of the thermal break of T studs:
- 2×6 with five-inch closed-cell spray foam: R-31.5
- 2×8 with five-inch closed-cell spray foam: R-40.2
These insulation ratings are much higher than the recommended values for exterior walls ranging from R-13 to R-23.
The highest recommended ratings go from R-25 to R-38, including continuous insulation or rigid sheathing for the exterior, for climate zones 6, 7, and 8.
2. T Studs Can Make Houses 24 to 75 Percent More Energy-Efficient
The thermal break of T studs and its effects depend on the type of insulation you select.
|Type of Insulation||Average R Value||Average U Value|
|Cellulose Mineral Wool Open Cell 3.7/inch||21.4||0.047|
|Blown-in Fiberglass 4.18/inch||23.7||0.042|
|Blown-in Fiberglass/R5 Continuous||28.7||0.035|
|Closed Cell Spray Foam 6.7/inch||35.8||0.028|
Breaking the thermal bridge of framing lumber with T studs and the consequential impact on the insulation of your exterior walls can increase your home’s energy efficiency by up to 75 percent, depending on the type of HVAC system and other architectural elements or construction factors.
3. T Studs Are Stronger Than Traditional Framing Lumber or Studs
Traditional wall studs made of #2 SPF lumber are rated for 2,200 lbs (998 kg) of axial load. T studs have a much greater axial loading threshold.
Here are the rated values for BareNaked T studs:
|T-Studs and Bottom Plate Framing Combination||Certified to Crush at|
|5.5” BareNaked T-stud with #2 SPF bottom plate||Up to 3,665 lbs (~1,662 kg)|
|5.5” BareNaked T-stud with LSL or LVL bottom plate||Up to 5,930 lbs (~2,690 kg)|
|7.25” BareNaked T-stud with #2 SPF bottom plate||Up to 4,400 lbs (~2014 kg)|
|7.25” BareNaked T-stud with LSL or LVL bottom plate||Up to 7,565 lbs (~3,431 kg)|
These thresholds are for eight-foot (2.44 m) high T studs, according to the tests and certification by DrJ Engineering, LLC.
Due to its design and engineering, the allowable compressive load per T stud is significantly higher than that of a typical #2 SPF.
T stud’s members and wooden dowels are made of #2 SPF lumber. However, the perpendicular alignment of the members enhances the allowable compressive load or axial loading capacity of T studs.
Also, the dowels are bonded deep into the spline to maximize a stud’s strength.
4. T Studs Are Lighter Than the Conventional #2 SPF Wall Studs
Consider a traditional 2×6 #2 SPF wall stud that’s eight feet tall.
The total volume of solid lumber of such studs is 792 cubic inches (1.5 x 5.5 x 96 inches). An eight-foot (2.44 m) tall T stud has a flange and spine, so two 2×3 lumber members. Each has a volume of 360 cubic inches (1.5 x 2.5 x 96 inches).
The two members of these dimensions have a volume of 720 cubic inches (11.8 liters) and a bit more.
An eight-foot (2.44 m) tall T stud also has holes in the flange and spine, but the dowels’ volume and weight can account for that.
In effect, T studs are lighter than regular studs.
5. T Studs Don’t Bend or Buckle During the Freeze and Thaw Cycles
Standard lumber tends to bend and buckle in many circumstances, including freeze and thaw cycles.
Due to these issues with traditional SPF studs, many homeowners encounter popping nails and sheetrock settling. However, T studs don’t have these vulnerabilities due to the design.
You can say goodbye to creepy house-settling noises.
6. T Studs Are Compatible With 8″, 16″, and 24″ On-Center Framing
Traditional 2×6 or 2×8 wall studs are usually spaced with 16 inches (1.33 feet) on-center framing. However, the studs aren’t wide enough to facilitate 24 inches (two feet) of on-center framing.
T studs have wider flanges than the splines, making them viable for 24 inches on-center framing. Eight-inch (0.67 feet) OC framing works for both.
A 2×6 T stud has a 2×3 flange. So, the stud is 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) wide at the flange.
Plus, the 2×8 T studs are available in a variant that has a 2×4 flange. This T stud variant’s flange is 3.5 inches (8.89 cm) wide.
7. T Studs Can Form Columns, Headers, Cripples, etc.
T studs are suitable for various framing structures, including the following:
You can use two identical T studs to form a column. This column will combine the strength of two T studs, effectively delivering greater allowable compression loads and better deflection ratios against components and cladding wind pressure.
An eight or nine-foot-tall column of two T studs can endure compression loads of 7,330 lbs (3,325 kg) for 15 through 60 PSF of components and cladding wind pressure in Exposure Category B. That includes:
- Enclosed building with a mean roof height of 30 feet (9.14 m)
- Single-family dwellings or larger in suburban and urban areas
- Wooded areas or other terrains with many obstructions around
8. T Studs Facilitate Continuous Cavity and Void Insulation for Walls
The gap or thermal break between the flange and the spine of T studs is a void that enables you to use it with the entire wall cavity for continuous insulation.
This can’t be done with traditional studs that don’t have the void, and solid lumber serves as the thermal bridge.
9. T Studs Are Protected From Fire, Mold, Rot, and Termite Damage
T studs use NexGen treatment that protects the framing lumber from damage.
10. T Studs Simplify Construction
Here are a few advantages of using T studs from the perspective of customization in the field or onsite construction:
- 24-inch on-center framing enables you to use fewer T studs than the standard SPF ones.
- Depending on your requirements, flanges can be aligned toward the exterior or interior.
- Electricians can use the T studs’ void to install or route conduits, fixtures, wires, etc.
- Plumbers can use the void without drilling, sawing T studs, or other frame components.
- There’s no wastage of T studs because the adhered members stay straight, unlike usual lumber that can bend, curve, or deform.
T Stud Cons
T studs don’t have outright disadvantages or shortcomings, but a few issues may be relevant to some readers. So let’s go over the downsides now.
1. T Studs Are Slightly Costlier Than #2 SPF Studs
The cost of standard lumber fluctuates, evident from the enormous spike in recent times.
Suppose you consider the typical cost of traditional studs. In that case, T studs may be $1,000 to $5,000 costlier for a standard 2,500 square-foot (232 square-meter) house to more complex layouts with walkout designs spanning 2,800 square feet (260 square meters).
This cost will likely be offset if you build 24-inch on-center frames that reduce your stud requirement by 20 percent or more.
Plus, you will need about 2,000 fewer fasteners. Add to that the savings with exceptional insulation and energy efficiency, and T studs are a great investment.
2. T Studs May Have Stock and Availability Issues
T studs aren’t more readily available than standard lumber. Your local lumber yard may not have any T studs in its inventory.
So, you might have to contact the company and arrange a shipment or get your local lumber yard to facilitate receiving the T studs you need.
3. T Studs Need Modifications as Top/Bottom Plates
T studs can’t be used as the top plate due to fire-blocking code requirements. However, a T stud can be the lower or second top plate.
Also, you can use a T stud for bottom plates, but you will have to cut the flange because it’s wider than the spline. Here’s an explainer video:
What Are the Standard Lengths of T Studs?
The 2×6 T stud is available in the following lengths:
- 92 ⅝ inches
- 104 ⅝ inches
- 116 ⅝ inches
- 10 feet
- 12 feet
The 2×8 T stud is available in the following lengths:
- 92 ⅝ inches
- 104 ⅝ inches
- 9 feet
- 10 feet
- 12 feet
- 16 feet*
Can I Cut or Trim T Studs at the Construction Site?
You can cut T studs at the site or field, provided you have a dowel within four inches (10.16 cm) of the end.
Also, don’t cut or saw through a T stud’s dowels. If you have to work on the thickness or width of a flange, you can cut or trim it without damaging the nearest dowel.
What Types of Insulation Can I Use With T Studs?
The following options are suitable to insulate the thermal break of T studs:
- Blown-in fiberglass
- Cellulose mineral wool
- Closed-cell spray foam
- Continuous insulation
You can use fiberglass batt insulation for the cavities, but the void of the T studs requires one of the above.
This applies to all walls, including those having continuous rigid insulation. Only the R-19 T studs can work seamlessly with fiberglass batts because they have insulated voids.
Explore any home insulation tax credits available in your state for different types of materials and energy-efficiency ratings.
Are T Studs Code-Compliant in the United States?
T studs are code-compliant in the United States. The BareNaked T stud manufactured by US Engineered Wood, Inc., is accredited by:
- ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB)
- International Accreditation Forum (IAF)
T studs are an engineering marvel due to the simplicity of the design that cleverly reinvents wall studs with phenomenal implications for framing lumber, especially regarding energy efficiency, structural strength, and sustainability.
Homeowners can save money with T studs!
Tstud.com | Tstud: 5.5″ + 7.25″ BareNaked Tstud Flyer | United States Department of Energy: Insulation | Tstud: BareNaked Tstud | DrJ Engineering, LLC: Technical Evaluation Report (TER 1908-02) BareNaked Tstud | NexGen Wood Protection USA | Tstud: Frequently Asked Questions | Attainable Home: How Much Does Insulation Save in Money (and Energy)? | Attainable Home: Home Insulation – Are There Energy-Efficient Tax Credits