How To Look At A House

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What are different types of exterior wall construction for a house?

Saturday, November 6, 2021

There are dozens of uncommon materials and ways to build the walls of a house, such as rammed earth or straw bales, along with cutting edge new ones like 3D-printing. But here’s the seven wall structural types most often used today, listed in approximate order of popularity:

1) Wood Stud Frame - By far the most common exterior wall structure. But this type of construction is often mistaken by homebuyers for brick or concrete block when sided with face brick or stucco. See our article How can I tell if the exterior walls of a house are concrete block (CBS) or wood or brick? to learn more.

2) Concrete Block - Very popular here in Florida because of its low maintenance and hurricane resistance. For a comparison with wood frame, go to What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction? 

3) Brick - Structural brick has a long history as a sturdy building material. See Is a brick house sturdier than a wood frame house? for details. 

4) Poured Concrete - Becoming more popular over the last decade due to efficiency of reusable steel forms. Go to What is the average life expectancy of a poured concrete (monlithic) house wall? for more. 

5) Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) - A variation on poured concrete, where the forms are an insulating foam that remains in place. See How can I identify a home as ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) construction?

6) Metal Stud Frame - Metal studs have some advantages over wood as an exterior wall framing material, but not as popular, and they are more often used for interior wall framing. 

7) Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) - Looks like any other home when complete, but the walls and roof are factory-made panels with an insulation core that are locked together at the homesite.

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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:

What causes raised white lines of residue on a block wall that are crusty and crumbling? 

What is the difference between soil subsidence, heave, creep, and settlement? 

 What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?

What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall? 

How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem?

What causes the surface of old bricks to erode away into sandy powder? 

What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

Should I buy a house with a crawl space? 

Why is my stucco cracking?

There's cracks running along the home's concrete tie beam. What's wrong? 

What would cause long horizontal lines of brick mortar to fall out?

How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?

What is a "continuous load path”?

Should I buy a house with asbestos siding?   

How can I tell if cracks in the garage floor are a problem or not? 

Why is housewrap installed on exterior walls under the siding? 

Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? 

How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?

Should I buy a house with structural problems? 

What are those powdery white areas on my brick walls?

How can I tell if the exterior walls of a house are concrete block (CBS) or wood or brick?

What are the common problems of different types of house foundations? 

• What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil?

        Visit our EXTERIOR WALLS AND STRUCTURE page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

Photo of steel studs - Marco Framing

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