The Future of Housewraps

Fifty+ years ago when we built homes, the only way we could protect them was to use “tar paper,” which is basically a version of tar-impregnated paper that contained asphalt. While these did the trick at the time, they were used mainly to prevent wind from getting through the home.

What’s funny is that nostalgia sometimes kicks in among builders. They’ll say things like “Oh, houses were built so much better back then.”

But, wait. Were they really?

It’s great to reminisce about the evolution of building: from braced framing methods to reinforced concrete foundations to balloon framing, and the other signature characteristics of early 1900s homes, such as high roofs and large porches.

But the reality is we couldn’t possibly construct houses the way we used to. For starters, we have modern codes to follow! Those homes were generally durable, but we can’t just build leaky houses without insulation any longer.

And to compound that point, each year we’re required by codes to build an even more efficient home—which means more insulation.

What older generations of housewraps did well was merely keep water out, but they failed miserably when it came to air tightness. Today, we know that air tightness means an energy-efficient home.

Unfortunately, up until recently, modern builders hadn’t come too far with this concept of air tightness. Most days, builders use nothing more than a glorified version of tar paper that is effective at waterproofing and attempts to tackle air tightness but is only mildly successful.

And as regulations become more stringent these days, requiring heightened levels of air tightness, we need a more modern and functional approach to housewrap.

The Future is Now

The future of housewrap is self-adhered, meaning you can peel the product and stick it right on and, fortunately, the future is NOW.

Dörken created a product that is not only be self-adhering but exceeds even those stringent requirements of the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) of a 60-minute Grade D building paper and passes the ASTM D1970 Nail Sealability test for sealing around fasteners.

image of large building covered in the DELTA®-VENT SA housewrap

4 reasons the future of housewrap involves DELTA®-VENT SA:

  1. It provides air tightness.
  2. It’s adhered so there are no penetrations caused by fasteners.
  3. It has a great ability to seal around nails. (I’ve seen this firsthand in a demonstration. I watched as a Dörken product was stretched over the opening of a jar, then pierced through with a nail, and then the jar turned upside down. Guess what? No water leakage. If there’s no water, then we know there’s no air.)
  4. If you do get a tear—it’s a localized problem. On the other hand, when using traditional housewrap that is stapled on and therefore creates a funnel, problems can navigate the penetrations within.

I’ve personally used DELTA®-VENT SA and highly recommend it. Dörken even has a new generation of housewrap that includes UV resistance called DELTA®-STRATUS SA—a beefier version of DELTA®-VENT SA, if you will. Both are vapor open, so they’re good for both cold and hot climates, and they both self-adhere for better air tightness.

An airtight house will result in fewer drafts, reduced chances of mold and rot, and an overall better home with fewer contaminants leaking into the envelope. Air leakage is sometimes a misunderstood priority in an energy-efficient home, but it is a priority and it’s time to seize the future in addressing it.

About Matt Risinger,  CEO & Chief Builder at Risinger & Co.:Matt Risinger of The Build Show and Risinger Homes

Upon graduating from Grove City College in Pennsylvania with a degree in Industrial Management, Matt began his construction career at NVR in Washington DC.

In 2005 Matt and his growing family relocated to Austin where he started Risinger & Company. Matt is dedicated to Building Science and is a recognized expert & thought leader in the industry.

He also has a large following on his YouTube channel, where you can find videos on installation techniques, product reviews, and everything in between.