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Community and Q&A

Airtight Drywall vs Airtight Exterior

Nicholas C | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

Hey all.

I read the post here: https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/articles/dept/green-building-blog/how-hang-airtight-drywall

It’s now a couple years old. I still hear of Air Tight Drywall frequently on here and other sites.

What on earth is the purpose of sealing drywall corners and joints with foam and caulking when you have to mud all these joints, corners, seams, etc. prior to priming and painting the drywall?

Next, I don’t know if it was really Malcolm’s comment below, but I agree wholeheartedly, drywallers will never do such a thing during installation (use latex caulking before installing sheets of drywall)??

Lastly, after reviewing the comments and the materials, it sounds like air sealing the exterior with:
1.) Tape or Caulking on seams
2.) Quality house wrap with cap staples and seams taped
3.) Quality installation around any wall openings

would all yield a more streamlined, simple process over the topic of air tight drywall.

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Replies

  1. Anon3 | | #1

    Yeah, drywall is already airtight, except at the bottom, openings (eg: door, ducts, kitchen area, bath), and at the electrical boxes.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Nicholas,
    You can't skip the gaskets or caulk with the Airtight Drywall Approach, because of partition intersections and joist intersections. If you skip the gaskets, air can leak from a partition wall (with electrical outlets that aren't airtight) into the exterior wall, bypassing the drywall tape.

  3. Anon3 | | #3

    But you can get air tight electrical outlets for cheap. The harder ones is the doors, and other cuts

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Nicholas,
    I'm not quite sure what Anon3's message is. But here's what I know:

    1. If you want to adopt the Airtight Drywall Approach, you have to follow the rules. You'll need air sealing efforts at all of the electrical boxes in the home's thermal envelope -- most builders buy airtight electrical boxes -- as well as gaskets or caulk at the plates, end studs, doors, and windows. The gaskets and caulk prevent air from sneaking through hidden chases and escaping through the exterior walls or ceiling.

    For more information on the required locations for caulk or gaskets, see Airtight Drywall.

    2. Most builders have concluded that establishing an air barrier at the exterior sheathing is far easier than the Airtight Drywall Approach. For more information, see Airtight Wall and Roof Sheathing.

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