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Stepping Up

Posted in Efficiency

Stepping Up

How often does the latest trend in style actually make life easier for the homebuilder? That’s exactly what’s happening right now with raised wood floor systems. Homeowners want them for their classic style and curb appeal. But looks aren’t the only thing that raised wood floor systems have to offer. They’re also faster to install than concrete slab floors, can be less expensive and, according to The Engineered Wood Association (APA), are less likely to require callbacks for the homebuilder.

Raised wood floor systems have been part of American architecture since colonial days. They’re designed to elevate the living space off of the ground in order to prevent damage from moisture, insects, growing tree roots, and shifting soil. A raised wood floor can provide a practical and affordable way to to meet code requirements and keep a home above flood waters.

A raised wood floor system consists of beams and girders, floor joists, and plywood or OSB sub-flooring. Selecting a complete floor system produced by a single manufacturer will help ensure all the components are designed to work together seamlessly. Such floor systems are often backed by a lifetime limited warranty as well. To ensure quality and durability, look for a floor system that meets the standards of the APA Performance-Rated Floor Model®. A prime example is the raised wood floor system designed by LP Building Products with LP® TopNotch® Sub-Flooring. A raised wood floor system can be built on nearly any type of soil without the fear of cracks and other costly problems associated with concrete slabs. Concrete and masonry work does not need to wait for plumbing installation and inspection or other common delays associated with concrete. Access to electrical wires, water pipes, plumbing, and other utilities can be a huge relief to both homeowners and homebuilders if there are design changes or construction mistakes. Fixes are faster, simpler, and cost much less than with concrete.

Another benefit is the “green” nature of wood. All of the usual environmental benefits of engineered wood products apply, including the fact that wood is a renewable, sustainable resource. The Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials studied the environmental impact of using a raised wood floor system compared to a concrete slab floor, using the Atlanta market, and determined that engineered wood required less than half the consumption of fossil fuels during the processes leading up to a home’s occupation, and including its eventual disposal, when compared against concrete. To prove that raised wood floor systems make a difference in the real world, the APA recently published a wide range of case studies featuring homebuilders from across the country. Here’s what they discovered: “I did a test. I built two houses, one was raised and one was on a slab,” said Dennis Collier of Collier Construction. “Everything else was the same, but the raised floor sold faster and for more money than the slab.”

The two homes were part of a subdivision in the Garden District of Picayune, Mississippi. According to Collier, the home with a raised wood floor system also cost less to build. “I love building raised. I can eliminate that extra cost and time. I don’t have near the delays as I do when I pour a slab,” he said.

Over in Green Cove Springs, Florida, Scott Murray of Murray Engineering teamed up with his brother Bryan to design his own personal residence. They had the freedom to choose any building style and material they wanted, and they chose a raised wood floor system.

“The first reason was to add height to the structure and improve curb appeal, without having to utilize a bunch of fill dirt and being concerned about the settlement of that fill dirt,” Scott explained. Another reason was “access to my mechanicals and electrical systems, and being able to maintain and upgrade those systems down the road. It’s a lot more feasible than on a slab.”

These are just two of the success stories being featured in the new APA case studies. Others focus on green building, durability over the long haul, closed crawlspaces, aesthetics, and trends in homeowner design preferences. You can find all of them online at Just click on “Raised Floor Living” in the left-hand column, then select “Case Studies.”

This information and the websites identified above are provided solely as a convenience to the reader. They are not intended to state or imply that the editors of Engineered Wood or LP Building Products sponsor, recommend, endorse or are affiliated or associated with the companies or products listed.