Last year, we tried Huber's Zip System wall and roof sheathing on a spec house to see how well these products would work with our construction methods. Zip panels have the same structural qualities as other types of OSB sheathing, but they also have a water-resistant kraft overlay on their outside face. After they're nailed off, the seams are sealed with a specially designed tape. Then the siding and roofing can be applied directly to the panel face, with no need for a separate water-resistive barrier or roofing underlayment.

A big incentive for me at the time was a $3-per-panel manufacturer's rebate that allowed us to test the Zip panels and tape without having to raise the price of the house we were building. That rebate was only for first-time users and has since expired, but we're still using Zip System sheathing. That's because despite the premium we pay for the...

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