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Q&A Spotlight

Choosing the Right Air Barrier

A self-adhering membrane is 10 times the price of conventional housewrap. Is it worth the extra cost?

A GBA reader named Bongo30 Bongo30 (we’ll call him Bongo) is trying to decide what type of water-resistant barrier (WRB) to install in a wall assembly that also will include exterior insulation, a vented rainscreen, and fiber-cement siding. Cost is turning out to be a pivotal issue.

“We are installing Hardie siding, and just got a quote for Blueskin as our WRB,” Bongo writes in this recent Q&A post in reference to a Henry’s Blueskin, a self-adhering air and vapor barrier. “The cost to install Blueskin is 10 times more than to install HardieWrap.”

The eye-popping quote to install Blueskin on his 2880-sq.-ft., two-story house is nearly $30,000.

Bongo reports that he does not live near the water, and does not live in an area subjected to high winds. Is the big price bump for Blueskin worth it? That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight.

Extra labor may be a factor in higher cost

As far as Dan S. can tell, the Blueskin is about four times the cost of HardieWrap so the much steeper price difference can probably be explained by the need for added labor, or a markup for what’s considered a premium product.

“It’s probably a bit of both,” Dan writes, “since HardieWrap is stapled up like Tyvek (so very fast to install), and Blueskin is a fully adhered product, like a giant sticker (so has to be more carefully put up and rolled out). But Blueskin is also a higher performance product than HardieWrap (in terms of air-sealing), so maybe there is also some ‘luxury’ mark-up involved.”

Dan adds that he installed Blueskin VP100 on his own home a year and a half ago. At the time, the material cost was five times cheaper than a premium Prosoco…

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