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One-Stop Wall System Website

Q: Over the last few years several new requirements for continuous insulation, moisture barriers, air barriers and so on have emerged. Where can I find guidance and hopefully even some details for designing and building exterior envelopes that comply with the latest developments?

A: Not too long ago a new website was launched that addresses these very issues. The new site, titled WSD – Wall System Design, is found at It was created to increase awareness of the kinds of building systems in which wall and ceiling contractors specialize. The site provides architects, building owners, developers and contractors with an overview of building systems that incorporate cold-formed steel framing and several exterior cladding systems, including stucco, brick veneer and exterior insulation and finish systems. It also provides “cut and paste details” for several common building features, and provides references and links to standards and organizations that offer more information in greater depth on these topics.

A little background on how this website came to be: The Foundation of the Wall and Ceiling Industry funds, among other things, educational programs and white papers that are developed to increase the knowledge base of the many players in the wall and ceiling industry. And while the Foundations’ main focus is improving the skills and expertise of the contractor community, it also seeks to broaden the understanding of design professionals, building owners, building inspectors and code officials by reaching out to them with materials and programs that present the best practices and innovations currently in use by the wall and ceiling industry. The Foundations’ leadership discovered that as many of the provisions of the new energy codes and green building standards began to gain acceptance, several of the wall and ceiling industry’s staple systems were being overlooked or excluded from consideration. It appeared that this segment of the construction industry was believed to be lagging behind the latest wave of environmentally-friendly criteria and that other building systems were being selected on the misguided perception that they were somehow superior. So, in an effort to reverse this trend, the Foundation turned to the independent consultant Robert Grupe, formerly a technical expert for USG, to oversee the creation of a Web-based design center that would enable design professionals to easily find the necessary information, including CAD details of common building features, needed to create building systems that are the mainstay of the wall and ceiling industry.

Grupe worked with the technical teams of several of the industry’s product manufacturers and the technical support personnel of several of the industry’s trade associations to pull together the information and materials that are now presented on the website. The site is designed to expand as the new innovations emerge, but for the moment, the following is an overview of what tools are available to all visitors:

There are six major headings found at the top of the home page: System Solutions, Ideation Center, Exterior System Solutions, Interior System Solutions, Construction Resources and Technical Resources. Under each of these headings is a list of topics that are expanded on in one or more pages, often with links to additional resources or DWG and PDF files depicting specific building assemblies.

Under the heading System Solutions, the covered topics include system performance considerations, fire resistance (interior and exterior), acoustical performance and moisture control. There are also several pages showing details for interior and exterior systems in stucco, EIFS and general use.

Under the Ideation Center heading are pages offering a photo library of award winning projects supplied by the Gypsum Association, and case studies compiled by the Steel Framing Industry Association.

Under the Exterior System Solutions heading are pages discussing exterior cold formed steel framing systems, exterior system components, exterior cladding, exterior side finishing, exterior framing, insulation, water resistive and air barriers.

The Interior System Solutions section is a similar list for interior applications, with the addition of a page on construction joints.

Under the Construction Resources heading are three links to resources provided for and by AWCI members.

And finally, under the Technical Resources heading are pages with a CAD detail library, a page with codes and regulations that includes an exhaustive list of design standards, a page titled “Building Science Corner” that discusses fire resistance, heat transfer, acoustics, and moisture control, steel framing capabilities and similar topics.

The final page offers a template for creating architectural specifications organized in the traditional three part spec format.

This website is jam-packed with useful information and details that will help just about anyone looking for concise explanations of key considerations, a comprehensive list of relevant standards, and links to the supporting materials necessary to understand and specify systems that incorporate cold formed steel framing with gypsum and cement board panels, stucco, EIFS and other claddings.

Lee G. Jones is AWCI’s director of technical services. Send your questions to [email protected], or call him directly at (703) 538.1611.

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