The 4 Essential Components of a High-Performance Air Barrier System

When building an effective air barrier assembly, it’s essential to have the right components. These detailing products are meant to simplify the process, save time and effort, and maximize the protection and performance of your building.

Certified Passive House Consultant and experienced technical services manager Krzysztof Apriasz takes us through some of the highly effective components from Dörken, giving us practical examples of where they can be used and how they can be applied for above- or below-grade residential or commercial builds. 

You’ll learn about four high-performance components that are compatible with virtually all systems and builds, and how they can protect your work from moisture and water leaks: 

What are the essential qualities of an air barrier system?

A complete air barrier system is a combination of several assemblies and components connected by multiple accessories that are designed to provide protection from the movement of air through an environmental separator.

High-performance air barrier systems must have the following characteristics:

  • Continuity (most important)
  • Strong enough to withstand forces during and after construction
  • Stiff to help absorb and transfer wind loads evenly
  • Durable to last the expected lifetime of the building
  • Impermeable to air flow (least important)

The reason for this order is that an air-impermeable component will be ineffective without continuity. An air barrier system must meet several requirements, but continuity is the most important and challenging characteristic to achieve in modern steel, wood, or concrete buildings.

What’s required to achieve an air tight building enclosure?

Air barrier requirements have brought significant changes to detailing. The focus is on the performance of the whole building and not that of individual materials.

There are different requirements for air barrier materials, components, and systems:

  • Standard Test Method for Air Permeance of Building Materials, and Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (CAN/ULC) 741, Standard for Air Barrier Materials – Specification
  • ASTM E2357, Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage Rate of Air Barrier Assemblies, and CAN/ULC 742, Standard for Air Barrier Assemblies – Specification, for components

While these are important standards that exist, neither are whole building performance tests. How the building performs is the most important. There are many standards worldwide that detail how to perform whole building air tightness tests, commonly called blower door tests.

Learn more about air barrier systems