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Insulating Housewraps

Housewraps are products meant to be installed under the siding of a building. They perform three desirable functions. The first is to provide a membrane that allows water vapor to escape from framing lumber and insulation, so that it does not cause damage to the structure. Housewraps also create a weather barrier beneath the siding, preventing rain driven by the wind or other moisture from reaching the sheathing. The third function is to serve as an air barrier that helps to reduce heating and cooling expenses.

If you are thinking installing a housewrap on your structure, consider the following:

  • Felt paper has been used for many decades as a housewrap, but newer technology has resulted in plastic based products. It is important to choose the housewrap based on the exterior siding being used. Vinyl, wood, brick and stucco all have specific requirements and need different types of housewraps.
  • Permeance ratings (perms) are a measure of the housewrap’s ability to transfer water vapor. The higher the perm number, the more permeable the material is. Most building codes require a rating of at least 5.0. Most available housewraps have ratings between 6.7 and 59.0.
  • Housewraps should be installed from the bottom up, with each layer overlapping the one below it. The seams should be sealed with tape made especially for the specific type of housewrap. Any cuts in the material should be carefully lapped and taped.

Any housewrap product is only as good as the quality of its installation. Badly installed housewraps can cause serious problems in the future, so make sure you follow all directions closely or hire a competent installer.

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