"IS TYVEK WORTH THE PRICE?" VIDEO BLOG BY MATT RISINGER (ONLINE, MAY 15)
Risinger's video blog generated a flood of comments. We don't have room to include them all, but here's an edited selection of the more salient ones. (The comments keep coming, so be sure to check online for more.)
Sean Donovan: Your test is very interesting and basic, which makes it easily repeatable and verifiable. The best part of Tyvek is how great it is at preventing water (and water vapor) from moving through it. Unfortunately, that's also its greatest weakness.
As you stated in your video, water gets behind the cladding. Further to that point, it often gets behind the building wrap, which is due to poor detailing (read: workmanship). As a renovation contractor, I rarely remove Tyvek without finding rotten, wet sheathing underneath, especially at building penetrations (doors and windows) where the detailing is most critical. Once water gets behind the Tyvek, it's trapped and can't escape the wall assembly. Left unchecked, this results in cladding failure, sheathing rot, and super-saturated insulation.
Editor's note: Donovan goes on to talk about "better" housewraps, notably Henry's Blueskin. A couple of DuPont reps corrected the suggestion that Tyvek doesn't allow the wall to dry, noting that Tyvek has a perm rating higher than Blueskin. However, Donovan's focus was on workmanship, and another significant difference is that Blueskin is self-adhesive, which might help compensate for poor workmanship that allows mechanically fastened housewraps to leak. Focusing on this point, Matt Risinger responds: "The devil is in the details. Penetrations are where the failures occur."
Mike Guertin: What housewrap are you using on most of your houses? In February at the International Builders Show you mentioned that you were trying a brand other than Tyvek. Just wondering how that other brand might be working out, and what the differences are between it and Tyvek.
Risinger responds: I've been a big believer in the Tyvek system for the past 10 years and it's worked well for me. My first go-to has been Tyvek Commercial D, which works in about 90% of the houses I build. However, I've been trying some other manufacturers' self-adhering products with good results. Cosella Dorkin's Delta-Vent SA has a perm rating but it's a peel and stick, so it makes a great air barrier, too; kind of works like sticky Tyvek. I've also just used Carlisle's CCW 705, which is an asphalt-based 40-mil peel and stick product (similar to an ice/water shield) that's really [bomb-proof.] It has a zero perm rating, but I think that for a house with no overhangs and lots of exposure [in the hot/humid South where the house will dry to the inside] this is a best practice.
Mark Bishton: That was a nice commercial for Tyvek—unless you know that the product he used is not the typical off-label, breathable building wrap that's an available alternative to Tyvek. This type of video infomercial is weak, JLC!
Risinger responds: Just to clarify: I don't work for JLC or for DuPont. I'm a builder in Austin, Texas, who experienced a lot of pain during the mold crisis of the early 2000s. I saw first-hand what water intrusion in structures could do over time, and that has led me to finding best practices for keeping building assemblies dry. In the video, I bought a roll of the pin-punched housewrap sold off the shelf at the store, next to Tyvek. They sell this same product under several brand names and I don't believe it's a good bulk water control layer. Try this test yourself with your favorite brand.
FOAM-SLICING SAW BLADES IN "COOL TOOLS FROM STAFDA," BY BRUCE GREENLAW (MAR/14), WITH A FOLLOW-UP REVIEW IN "TOOLBOX" (MAY/14)
We are building a high-performance home (close to being a Passive House), and for this project we ordered quite a bit of high-performance 60 psi (i.e., expensive) foam. We have some heavy (16-by-8-foot) triple-glazed windows sitting on the foam and wanted the highest available performance. So when I saw the Mar/14 story, with a follow-up review in May, for the dustless, high-precision foam-cutting blade, I immediately bought one.
The first blade was a mess. It didn't cut straight. The factory rep did a good job telling me that the factory hadn't properly deburred the blades, and he sent me a new one. That worked fine for a while, but after about 600 linear feet of 2-inch rips and 300 linear feet of 3 1/2-inch rips, it was no longer useful. A buildup of melted foam collects on the blade causing the blade to bind in the table saw.
With the new blade, the manufacturer included a spacer to put on the fence (as noted by Greenlaw in the May review). To us, this seemed an impractical solution. Maybe if I added a dedicated fence for my table saw to the price, it might work. But I wouldn't want to keep it on the saw when doing other work, and I don't want to spend time removing the gummy tape that adheres the plastic to the fence.
I expect JLC to be the trusted adviser, but with this product, the magazine failed me (and my wallet).
—Steve Burke, Olympic Valley, Calif.