To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of 2x4 exterior wall construction are greatly exaggerated.

In fact, the outlook for 2x4 residential construction has never been brighter in spite of tough R-20 exterior wall code standards.

That’s good news to scores of local, regional and national home builders that swear by 2x4 construction. Not so long ago, many home builders feared they would be forced to scrap building plans and well-established work flows in favor of 2x6 exterior wall construction.

What changed? How did 2x4 construction go from intensive care to viability in many markets?

Say thanks to next-generation insulated structural sheathing. This game-changing framing advance rewrites the rules of what is possible from 2x4 framing. Overnight, home builders now have a strategy that can save them from a needless and difficult 2x6 framing transition.

Those observations and others are offered by Lee Bybee, a trained architect, MBA, and director of national accounts for OX Engineered Products, a leading U.S. manufacturer of wall system products.

“Most of the country has converted to R-20 exterior wall assembly,” says Bybee. “However there’s about 50% of the country that still builds with 2x4 construction.”

Why Transition?

Bybee says the push for R-20 compliance nationwide means 2x4 builders and component manufacturers must find a way to preserve their familiar 2x4 construction workflow without sacrificing the latest energy code standards.

Is that even possible?

Absolutely, reports Bybee. In fact, a surprising number of production builders are already doing just that or, more surprisingly, actively considering switching back to 2x4 studs from 2x6s.

Code-Compliant 2x4 Construction

“National and regional production builders realize they don’t have to sacrifice budgets and margins on 2x6 construction. The key is using structural continuous insulated sheathing instead of OSB to meet energy code,” says Bybee.

For example, Bybee’s company manufacturers a structural continuous insulated sheathing product called OX-IS. OX-IS outperforms OSB R-value performance by up to 1,100%, helping make “the wall cavity question” largely irrelevant, says Bybee. OX-IS also performs four-wall assembly functions in a single pass around the home – structural support, water and air barrier, and insulation (up to R-6). OX-IS sheathing is also just a third of the weight of OSB, a huge transportation advantage for component manufacturers.

2x4 2.0

Bybee says his company has relationships with most of the Top-10 national builders on code-compliant 2x4 construction. One builder is even looking to transition back over to 2x4. “We work with a lot of regional guys too,” Bybee adds.

Call it 2x4 2.0. For production-minded home builders and component manufacturers, the way forward with code-compliant 2x4 construction never looked more promising or profitable.

To learn more about energy code-compliant 2x4 construction with next-generation insulated structural sheathing, visit