The advertising for TallWall OSB seldom fails to mention how it can save builders material and labor costs over traditional 4’x8’ OSB wall sheathing. But is this true? And if so, how much will you save per house, and by doing what?
Let’s tear the argument down to its basic components.
What are your blocking costs?
If you’re accustomed to sheathing houses with 4’x8’, chances are you’re okay with the idea of blocking, or installing 2x4s to cover the horizontal seams that remain and dealing with the resulting air leakage. Meaning some highly-paid individual has to measure each wall cavity, go find a 2×4, cut it to fit, then nail it into place. Someone, also on your payroll, then has to pick up the remaining 2×4 off-cuts and decide which are still usable and which aren’t, then throw everything what can’t be used into the waste bin – this waste which someone, likely you, bought and now must pay to have disposed. All this comes right off your bottom line.
Sawing up your money and throwing it away
Wasted 4’x8’ is another cost that no one likes to think about much. But let’s. With so many houses built with 9’ or higher ceilings these days, and 4×8 horizontally installed panels one sheet after another nailed into place. Many have to be cut to fit over, under and around doors and windows etc. It looks like cut and paste from the street. If all these small pieces come from left over scrap then why is there that much left over in the first place and why is the dumpster still full? And don’t forget the mistakes in measuring or cutting. More material to buy, more waste, more labor, and more of your money spent to remove it.
And let’s not forget filler strips and caulking
With 4’x8’ panels you always end up needing filler strips to complete the wall and cover the joist areas. These must all be cut, carried and installed all way around a house and the 2nd floor if it’s a two story. Now, what about the air leakage problem? All those joints that must be caulked to reduce air infiltration to meet the energy code requirements. More material and more labor – a fiddly, time-consuming and expensive process and of course more deductions from your bottom line
Trades dragged down
Electricians, plumbers and HVAC folks all need to run their stuff inside walls. Every time someone has to drill through or knock out horizontal blocking to install something, their work time is increased and someone has to go back and fix it. Siding installers are also slowed up because they don’t have that strong flat wall that TallWall provides. None of this extra labor is good for the guy paying the bills.
How many 4x8s does it take to build a wall?
Now to the question of how many panels of old-school 4’x8’ vs. TallWall 4’x9’ or 4’x10’ would be required on a given wall. Below is an example of a wall using both. The wall using 4x8s gobbled up 57 pieces. The wall built with TallWall used just 35. That’s 22 pieces less to handle on just one wall, no blocking to buy, cut and install and no filler strips to cut and install. That makes for a better bottom line.
So TallWall delivers significant labor and material cost savings, less waste and lowers disposal costs. Now multiply all the savings per house by your annual starts you will be very pleasantly surprised.