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Product Guide

Keeping Water Out of Walls: Housewrap and Beyond

You now have at least a half-dozen styles of water-resistive barrier to choose from

A common criticism of the building industry is that it is slow to change. While this may not hold true with high-performance builders, it seems a fair stereotype for residential construction at large. And if the few progressive builders who make up the high-performance, or green building market can’t be blamed, neither can manufacturers.

Since the International Code Council adopted water-resistive barriers (WRB) into the International Residential Code, there has been an explosion in product innovation. Felt and housewraps are losing market share to integrated panel products. ZIP Systems Sheathing is as ubiquitous today as Tyvek was in the 1990s. And products from commercial construction and European manufacturers are making inroads in the American home building market.

Maybe you have a go-to WRB, a product that has never let you down. Maybe there is no reason to change what you are doing. If you feel that your current approach to keeping water out of walls could be improved upon and if you are open to trying new products, you now have at least six types of WRB to choose from. Here’s a look at what is now available from a number of manufacturers.


Water-resistive barriers that come in rolls and are generally installed with cap fasteners include felt, building paper, and numerous variations of plastic housewrap from DuPont, Certainteed, Barricade, and many others. Though installation is similar, with courses lapped over each other from the bottom to the top of the wall and flashings integrated for drainage, this category of products varies widely in performance, quality, and price. Though they are airtight materials, even with the seams taped, most of these products tend not to be great air barriers, despite manufacturers’ marketing claims.


Drainable Housewrap

As soon as building scientists spread the word that you don’t…

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