- Q.Is there any structural
difference between a wall framed with 2x4s 16 inches
on-center and a wall with 2x6s 24 inches
A.There is almost no difference
in the bearing capacity — the
wall’s ability to support a compressive
load, which is how most walls are loaded. Bearing
capacity is a function of the footprint area of all
the studs in a wall. For example, a 4-foot section
of wall would have three 2x4s, but only two 2x6s.
The total bearing area of three 2x4s is 15 3/4
square inches; two 2x6s have a bearing area of 16
In bending, however, such as from a wind load, a
2x6 wall is considerably stronger.
In tall walls, where column buckling might be a
factor, a 2x6 wall would be stronger if a
structural sheathing was used. Structural sheathing
provides lateral support to the 1 1/2-inch
dimension of either 2x4s or 2x6s, but the greater
width of the 2x6 makes it stiffer in that
direction. If the sheathing is not structural, both
wall systems would have equal resistance to
buckling, since the buckling would occur across the
thickness of the member.