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What is the best sheathing product in NA ?

I would like to know what you believe is the best sheathing material for use on new homes/building for specific construction type ?

Criteria i would like to consider are :

1- carbon/green/energy/environmental impact of product usage and manufacturing

2- mechanical properties of the sheathing

3- insulative value

4- water/moisture resistance

5- air permeability/ability to dry etc..

( am i missing an important point? )

The types of system to consider are of high performance only.
I would suggest discussing for -
- in/out insulated stick framed ( double walled or simple )
- More exotic such as light gauge metal framing ( ext insulation )

Asked by Jin Kazama
Posted Thu, 03/06/2014 - 12:18


13 Answers

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I will start with the following...

I've been using 1/2 plywood over frame stick for a few reasons i believe in, i may not be right on those please correct me ...

Plywood availably here is either locally or at least made in Canada, from canadian trees.
I believe they are using spruce/fir, which are pretty fast growing low impact trees right ?
I also believe plywood uses more wood and less glue than OSB.
The associated upcsot from OSB is not too bad, even less if you purchase bundles instead of a couple of sheets.

It seems to dry much easier with less damage than OSB .
bracing strength is pretty similar, but screws tend to hold better through PLY than OSB.

Problem i've got with plywood is that it requires additional peel stick for my REMOTE type walls,
which brings the cost ( green and $$ ) up quite a bit, and the labor to install the peel stick.

The insulative value is not that great either, but this is usual with high strength sheathings i guess.

Would love to find an alternative to plywood + peel stick that would have lower labor and or environmental impact. though.

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Thu, 03/06/2014 - 12:31

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Nail base is my pipe dream for sheathing but it presents a shear issue that my engineer does not like. Bracing on the interior would solve that but the cost associated with that might break the budget on certain projects.

The other problem with nail base is that it's only available (to my knowledge) with OSB which is pretty much garbage in my opinion.

ZIP for the sheathing and then outsulation without peel and stick?...but ZIP is basically OSB right?...mostly glue?

Maybe the problem to solve for is a "safe" peel and stick and keep the sheathing component CDX?

Answered by Robert van Wert
Posted Fri, 03/07/2014 - 22:12

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VAN: it could be ... I have no problem with the peel stick other than mostly the labor involved and the tar used could be already sticked to a sheathing by a factory and i would be glad..but then why use tar as adhesive .
i have not looked into ZIP yet . What exactly is it composed of ??

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Fri, 03/07/2014 - 22:28

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I'm not the scientist at Huber but it seems like Advantech with a SUPER thin coating on the outside that's supposed to make it waterproof...lot's of debate on that.

My gut still says that CDX with a "safer" skin on the outside is still less toxic. If you cut through ZIP, it's like OSB but stiffer, which would lead me to think there's more glue in there. Lot's of houses use it for green purposes, it would be nice to know what's in the glue.

I do like your thought process on CDX, that's very refreshing....spruce and fir with a little bit of glue.

Answered by Robert van Wert
Posted Fri, 03/07/2014 - 22:54

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Just to add ..the reason why i am currently using Peel Stick is to make the wood sheathing impossible to get water damaged would that ever happen. It would be possible to only use special tapes
at joints to make it vapor barrier enough for the purpose ..but this wouldn't protect it from insects/water .
I like to think of the vapor barrier as an impenetrable shell that protects the framing.

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Sat, 03/08/2014 - 01:04

Helpful? 0

From a green perspective, if you are interested in sheathing performance -- and you don't care about materials costs or installation (labor) costs -- it's hard to beat diagonal board sheathing. Take your pick: planed or unplaned; square-edged or shiplap.

Of course, diagonal board sheathing will never be an air barrier. So if you go this route, you'll need to create your air barrier elsewhere -- with airtight drywall, housewrap, a European air barrier membrane, or rigid foam.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Sat, 03/08/2014 - 06:03

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Martin : nice input. didn't even think about boards .. Though, how many trees does it take to make boards VS let's say plywood ? peeling a tree ca be done even with wraped trees and smaller ones but boards require a certain size, straightness and width ...just a thought ...

What about using less than fill of boards and using a plasticized/metal film on top,
or a resistant peel&stick that would serve as air/vapor barrier ?

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Sat, 03/08/2014 - 10:33

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am i missing an important point?
You might want to consider the potential for off gassing of the peel and stick

Answered by Debra Glauz
Posted Sat, 03/08/2014 - 17:27

Helpful? 0

Peel-and-stick flashing products are usually used on the exterior of walls or roofs (either to seal sheathing seams or as part of a window flashing system). They aren't used on the interior side of walls. For this reason, I have never heard of homeowner complaints about outgassing from these products.

Needless to say, if you are worried about the possibility that some of these products might give off fumes that you are trying to avoid, then you may prefer not to use these products.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Sun, 03/09/2014 - 07:24

Helpful? 0

3m has a new peel/stick that is acrylic based i believe.
could be a superb option if the price ever comes down.

on another note
how would you rate a steel sip type panel used for sheathing
it would be strong for fastening and bracing
provide insulatove value
if done used EPS it is as green as the eps itself is
serves as wator/air/vapor barrier
i could only think of diff of taping seams

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Sun, 03/09/2014 - 09:57

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any products consisting of cdx/ply eith a seal coating on 1 side?

or know of a suitable coating product with low envir impact ?

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Sun, 03/09/2014 - 11:19

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Debra and peel and stick 'odor': Before I discovered the ProClima tapes, I tried using a variety of other tapes to seal some plywood edges INSIDE the house including Zip tape. That stuff smells terrible. I installed half a roll, went to lunch, came back, ripped all the tape back off. I don't know the science of how much it off-gasses or anything else but any sensitive homeowner will not want that inside their home. Just trying to save someone else $15.

Answered by Keith H
Posted Mon, 03/10/2014 - 13:36

Helpful? 0

Martin and Keith, thank you for your response. I agree, I would not use these tapes inside a house. I have not had complaints of out gassing from Grace Ultra or Grace Ice and water but I could smell them inside the house with the windows open on a hot day during the building stage. I have not read about out gas testing for peel and stick products so I do not know if it is an issue. Radon seems to make it into a house through holes in the system maybe peel and stick gas can do the same. I certainly would not put it on the walls and roof and call it the perfect wall or roof until I knew there were no issues with out gassing. Products like this seem to be a moving target. Everything works until we find out it doesn't.

Answered by Debra Glauz
Posted Mon, 03/10/2014 - 15:58

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