5 Common House Wrap Problems and How to Overcome Them

house wrap peeling off a large building

Exterior house wrap is one of the most popular moisture barriers put on new houses and buildings.

The concept is pretty simple, actually; once the basic structure is in place, workers put house wrap around it as a way to protect the home from unwanted air and moisture. Building wrap is attached to the sheathing using staples, nails, or special fasteners, and then the rest of the house’s cladding, such as siding, is put in place.

However, just because mechanically-fastened house wraps are commonly used as vapor barriers to protect new homes and buildings doesn’t mean it’s the best method. Here are some common problems that can occur with house wraps, and how you can solve them.

Common House Wrap Problems

Problem #1: Time and Exposure

House wrapping doesn’t take long to install, but if conditions are not ideal, then problems can arise when it comes time to sealing the house wrap.

The wrap might be exposed to rain or dirt, or there might be other impurities that will stop the tape from sealing properly. Think of improperly sealed tapes like armor with giant holes in it.

house wrap damaged by UV exposure

Another issue is exposure time to ultraviolet (UV) rays. If there is a delay in covering the house wrap with the exterior cladding, it can damage the house wrap and substantially reduce its service life.

Wind can also be a problem as it can cause rips and tears to the exterior house wrap while exposed, limiting its effectiveness when covered.

Recommended reading: A Builder’s First Time Using Peel and Stick House Wrap

Problem #2: Horizontal Wrapping

House wrap is typically applied by wrapping it horizontally around the structure. This means there are horizontal seams, which are a risk for water that will be running down vertically if the laps are not shingled correctly.

Vertical house wrapping is rarely (if ever) an option though, meaning the best workers can do is make sure the seams are as tightly sealed as possible and overlapping in a downward manner.

Problem #3: It Is Not An Air Barrier

‘Is a house wrap a vapor or air barrier?’ is one of the most frequent questions we get asked.

house wrap damaged by moisture infiltration

House wraps are not designed to stop air and moisture, as they are attached with mechanical fasteners such as nails or staples. This is something that needs to be taken into account since air intrusion can lead to a loss of energy efficiency and other problems.

Moisture can also manifest into mold and mildew buildups as surely as a leaking barrier will, which will lead to expensive remodeling in order to fix the problem.

You might also like…How to Choose the Best House Wrap

Problem #5: Incorrect Installation

When upper layers are not lapped over lower layers, moisture can get behind the house wrap. Insufficient lapping can compromise water resistance, too.

Horizontal joints that are lapped less than six inches, or vertical joints lapped less than 12 inches in areas of significant wind-driven rain, are a potential issue.

Build your knowledge…How to Install an Airtight, Watertight Window

House wrap installation around windows and doors requires knowledge and care to avoid subsequent moisture intrusion problems. A failure to cover the sill plate and foundation joint with house wrap can also compromise its effectiveness.

When house wrap is improperly installed over wooden structures, seam leaks may occur, and they may remain undetected for years until structural damage occurs.

To prevent issues caused by poor installation, The Build Show’s Matt Risinger demonstrates how to properly install a house wrap.

Learn more about house wraps at DELTA® Academy