Sheathing System Cuts Home Building Time and Boosts Building Envelope Sealing

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
Sheathing System Cuts Home Building Time and Boosts Building Envelope Sealing

The Proud Green Home of St. Louis used the Huber ZIP System.

On a residential or commercial building site, time equals money, so building professionals are interested in shortening the process while maintaining quality.

One of the time-consuming but necessary steps is creating an air and moisture barrier for the building envelope. Currently, the most common way to accomplish that task is with a housewrap. But time and – energy – conscious building pros are turning to sheathing with integrated water and air barriers that accomplish several steps in one.

The Huber ZIP System, visible on many jobs for its green framing sheathing or red roofing sheathing, is one of the fast growing housewrap alternatives that delivers several building steps in one.

The Huber ZIP System sheathing and tape is an structural roof and wall system with an integrated water resistant and air barrier that streamlines the weatherization process and transforms it with a simple two-step installation. The panels are fastened to framing just like any other sheathing. Then the seams are taped to provide an air and moisture barrier. The taping can be a one-person job.

Builders see the difference in installation speed on the job site. Huber says the ZIP system is 40 percent faster than using housewrap. On a 6,000 square-foot home, that could save 16 hours of labor.

At the Virginia-based design firm, Great Seal, architect and designer Lyndl Joseph chooses ZIP System sheathing to meet ever-changing energy codes for her clients, and values the installation efficiency as well.

“It’s much better having the ZIP System rather than regular sheathing that requires housewrap,” Joseph said. “It’s nice to know you’ve got a waterproof barrier.”

Joseph also likes ZIP System sheathing for its added protection against wind and moisture, especially in the humid climate of Virginia.

“The weather conditions are constantly changing, and there’s always a period of time before the siding is up where the house is exposed,” says Joseph. “In one house I’m working on, the homeowner has had a tough time deciding on his siding. All this time the house has been protected by the ZIP System sheathing – from rain, wind, and everything else – and it performs just fine.”

When architect Matt O'Malia designed a Passive House that won Fine Homebuildingmagazine's 2014 Houses Award for Best Energy-Smart Home, he made ZIP System sheathing part of the design. His home design used standard 2x6 studs on 24-inch centers and cellulose wall insulation.

"We like the ZIP System because we can build a standard stud wall like we’ve done a million times, and then put on the ZIP sheathing and tape," O'Malia said. "We have totally conventional construction with an air barrier that we can air seal. Everyone knows how to build this wall, nothing new has been done."

For builder David Bitter of Solera Studios, a deep-green remodel relied on the Huber ZIP system to achieve Passive House air tightness standards. He had to remove some of the brick cladding to solve a few problems, and decided to remove it all and put up new sheathing and exterior and interior insulation.

"We kept the existing studs and exterior walls to the extent we could, we basically have 2x4 construction using the ZIP system over that, and on existing walls we have rigid poly iso insulation under fiber cement siding," Bitter said.

Using dense pack cellulose insulation in the stud spaces as well as rafter spaces, the home achieved R 37 on walls and R-53 on the roof.

For the Proud Green Home of St. Louis, the builders Kim Hibbs and Matt Belcher used insulated ZIP system panels for a continuous exterior insulation layer as well as air and moisture barrier.

"These continuous panels reduce the amount of seams in the thermal envelope to create a better barrier against air and moisture exchange," Belcher said.

On a rural 12-acre plot in northeast Ohio, Dave Miller is building his dream home, a 2,900 square-foot modern take on a classic farmhouse is reflects hours of research and preparation and a unique use for waste products.

Miller, director of pricing for ProVia, a Sugarcreek, Ohio-based manufacturer of home exterior products, is using products for the exterior, from metal shingles on the roof, to vinyl siding and manufactured stone on the exterior and high performance windows and doors.

One of the products ProVia makes is insulated fiberglass entry doors. For those models with glass inserts or lites, the lites are cut out of the door and that section of the door is discarded. However, each lite cut-out is a panel with an R-Value of about 7. Instead of letting those cut outs go to waste, Miller collected them over a period of about three months, finally gathering more than 12,000 pieces.

To ensure air sealing under the mounted door panels, he used the Huber ZIP system sheathing, which includes taped seams, and Huber's liquid flashing around window and door openings.

Building pros are turning to the sheathing options that speed up construction time and create continuous insulation and reduce the amount of seams in the thermal envelope to create a better barrier against air and moisture exchange.

"It's nice it, it solves a lot of issues that you might otherwise face with the building envelope," Belcher said. "The integrity of it is strong, and it makes it easier for us build a tight home."

Read more about thermal envelopes for high performance homes.


Topics: Building Green, Foundations, Lumber and Structured Panels, Proud Green Home of Louisville, Remodeling, Siding, Thermal Envelope

Companies: Huber Engineered Woods

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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