Continuous Insulation (CI) is now defined in the IBC as: "Insulating material that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings. It is installed on the interior or exterior, or is integral to any opaque surface of the building envelope."

Today CI is virtually required in commercial construction.  But residential walls, typically framed with wood, not steel, have less of an issue with thermal bridging.  So is the use of CI on these types of structures worth it?  Absolutely!  CI will  improve any wall, particularly if the goal is to have the perfect energy efficient wall.

While you might not need to replace all of the cavity insulation of a wood-framed wall with continuous insulation, even just a thin layer makes a big difference.  By enclosing the framing members in insulation, you are keeping them from larger temperature fluctuations that can promote condensation and the adverse effects that take place when wood is wet for long periods of time.  Also, continuous insulation can often be used as an all-in-one WRB, air barrier, and vapor retarder, simplifying construction. Explore this site for informative research reports, step-by-step guides, timely articles, and helpful tools like the wood wall calculator.

As an introduction, here’s a short video explaining the basics of wood-framed wall design:

For additional information, review the following articles, as well as the previous videos in this series:

Perfect Wall Articles

  1. Creating the ‘Perfect Wall’: Simplifying Water Vapor Retarder Requirements to Control Moisture
  2. Perfect Walls are Perfect, and Hybrid Walls Perfectly Good
  3. Wood Framed Wall Insulation Calculator Explained
  4. New Wall Design Calculator for Commercial Energy Code Compliance
  5. Energy Code Math Lesson: Why an R-25 Wall is Not Equal to a R-20+5ci
  6. Continuous Insulation Solves Energy Code Math Problem

Video Series

  1. Fear Building Envelopes No More with This Website & Videos
  2. Video: Thermodynamics Simplified Heat Flows from Warm to Cold
  3. Video: Moisture Flow Drives Water Induced Problems
  4. Video: How the 'Perfect Wall' Solves Environmental Diversity
  5. Video: How Important Is Your WRB?
  6. Video: A Reliably Perfect Wall Anywhere
  7. Video: The Best Wall We Know How to Make 
  8. Video: How to Insulate with Steel Studs
  9. Video: Thermal Bridging and Steel Studs
  10. Video: Better Residential Energy Performance with Continuous Insulation
  11. Video: How to (Not) Ruin a Perfectly Good Wall
  12. Video: Tar Paper and Continuous Insulation? No Problem!
  13. Video: Do CI and WRBs Go Together?
  14. Video: Assess Your 'Perfect Wall' Using Control Layers