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A few years later, Joseph Lstiburek perfected and promoted the Airtight Drywall Approach (ADA) to air barriers. These days, some builders approach air sealing like all-out war, and try to make everything as airtight as possible.
There’s a growing trend among builders concerned about air leakage to establish the air barrier at the exterior wall and roof sheathing. If all insulation is on the exterior side of the sheathing, it’s also possible to cover all of the exterior sheathing with Ice & Water Shield — a method called PERSIST. Carried to its most logical expression, this approach requires buildings to be framed without any roof overhangs at the eaves or rakes. Marc Rosenbaum, an energy consultant who works in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, described the advantages of this air-barrier system at a presentation he gave on February 10 at the Better Buildings By Design conference in Burlington, Vermont.
Rosenbaum began his presentation by reminding the audience of the characteristics of a good air barrier.
Rosenbaum noted that at any sheathing edge that doesn’t abut another piece of sheathing — for example, sheathing adjoining a rough opening or sill — needs to be sealed to the framing. Although it’s possible to use closed-cell spray polyurethane foam as an air barrier on the interior of the sheathing — using the so-called “flash and batt” or “flash and cellulose” method — there are drawbacks to this approach. I think an Air Tight Attic Floor concept could be adapted for almost any style of Architecture. In buildings where the roof framing is made with trusses and the AB can be made as a simple flat plane under the bottom chord of the truss (and there are no mechanicals in the attic, and no oddball dormers, etc), the AB can be at the underside of the truss fairly easily. Also, you may get comments from industry people about my observation that housewrap is not an air barrier.
It certainly true that you can achieve great immediate air tightness with sheet goods but the assumption that those sheet goods will survive a potential (and hopeful) life exceeding 100 years of moisture cycling through the walls of the building is untested and I think a little suspect There are countless examples of dwellings that are hundreds of years old sheeted with solid lumber sheathing with the additional virtues of a low carbon footprint, local production options and long term carbon sequestration. When I researched the topic for my June 2001 article on the topic for JLC ("Choosing Flexible Flashings"), I noted that cold-weather installation of peel-and-stick flashings can be problematic. Some EPDM flashings can be used down to -20°F, but I'm not sure how well they stick to OSB or plywood. I believe the Europeans have had good succes with "AirStop" tape that is not subjected to temperature extremes. REMOTE (at Least Thorsten's version) flops the ACL to the inside of the structure at the top plate. I have noticed that the Europeans do not always "break" their sheathing (racking board)on the studs. This allows AirStop tape to be applied on the inside or sometimes both sides of the sheathing. If you cover your plywood wall sheathing with one or several layers of rigid foam, it's relatively easy to establish your WRB on the exterior of the last layer of foam. Other builders prefer to install a layer of plastic housewrap on the exterior side of the last layer of foam. Either way, a ventilated rainscreen drainage gap between the foam and the siding goes a long way towards eliminating worries about trapping moisture in the wall.
Finally, if you're losing sleep over the possibility of wet plywood, remember that the plywood can easily dry to the interior. Architects seem to be specifying bigger and bigger overhangs, so we haven't had much luck trying to figure out how to do plant-on eaves a la South Mountain.
That's why Marc Rosenbaum recommends the use of plastic housewrap over the Huber Zip system. On the pic of John Brooks' framing, I don't see any air gap over the loose-fill insulation.
With the average person creating around 1.4 litres of water vapour per 24 hours, old people a bit less, active children and pets a bit more.
I recommend that, people deal with this, by venting water vapour to the outside, or get rid of it by using a dehumidifier. In every instance, that the home should be sealed on the inside, to prevent water vapour entering the walls, ceilings or floors, as heat and water vapour always move to cold.
If the insulation is placed on the outside, the coldest part of the wall is where it contacts the insulation. Therefore, insulation should be on the room side of the outer walls, ceiling and floors, to keep the comfort zone as small as possible and save heating the structure and the possibility of interstitial condensation, followed by wood rot. Lining the inside of the walls, floors and ceilings with at least two inches of polystyrene, Styrofoam or similar, helps avoid the transmission of heat through the structure by conduction.
Filling the structure with sheet polystyrene, will bring the home close to Passive House standard. Although it's always refreshing to have a British perspective, Perry, I find myself once again disagreeing with many of your points. Great topic and good to read about real strategies for trying to achieve Passive House level air-tightness. Our company has used the Huber wall systems for about 3+ years and love the product and the tapes.
Martin - question - do you know if Huber is treating the interior of these Zip Wall panels with some type of resin too?
Whether you use regular OSB or the Zip sheathing from Huber, the same considerations apply concerning condensation. If the stud bays are filled with dense-packed cellulose, the likelihood of condensation is much less than if the stud bays are filled with fiberglass. Housewraps like Tyvek pioneered (as far as I know) exterior air sealing as a product for houses in the late 1980s.
The airtight drywall approach and sealed poly approach can both deliver these levels of airtightness, but it was easier to train and inspect using ADA.
The "new" approach of sealed sheathing (as distinct to exterior air barrier) — long advocated in Canadian commercial construction (I have brochures selling the wonders of this from 1984 and 1986 in my office and pictures of sealed OSB in houses from the early '90s) — was found to be even more effective. If it is my house, and I can afford a few hundred or a thousand dollars more, I want as tight as I can get: so sealed exterior sheathing is for me.
But ZIP, like all OSB, does not have the high permeability of a building paper, so one needs to design carefully.
The back of the ZIP has a different texture because of the way the product is pressed, and you will notice that other OSB is like this too.
Yes, one can seal windows to ZIP as a WRB: there is a large set of details available from Huber if you ask for it that show you how.
I understood John Straube to mean that most houses with double-stud walls have no foam sheathing. I can relate - I've found the higher levels of performance I look for in my projects, the less sleep I get.
I am planning a siding project on our home this summer in Northern Illinois and I am trying to figure out how to do it right. The point I am making is that the molecules of water vapour are so tiny that they can pass through many things.
Therefore, it is important that the water vapour created inside the home is prevented from entering the wood framing. Water vapour while partly filling the spaces between the air molecules, moves of it own violation, into areas where the air molecules are too large to go. Having a vapour barrier on the outside of a building makes no sense in an area where the indoors temperature is always going to be warmer than the outside temperature.
Note: At 40f there are only five cc of water vapour in one cubic meter of air that's 5 in 1,000,000 cc . Another point is the volume of air inside a home is always changing and the water vapour quantity is always growing, so the quantity that moves over time is vast.

While the wood of the framing is hard and dry when it leaves the kiln, and has roughly the same insulation value as polystyrene, as time goes on it absorbs water vapour and gradually becomes wet. As most of the heat that is lost from a home is via conduction, the situation where air holding quantities of water vapour is allowed access to the framing is obviously bad.
The air in the walls and ceiling (where gaps are larger than 16mm) produces a convection rotating current that transfers heat across the space into the wood framing and then to the outside, creating a heat bridge.
Having the insulation and the almost water vapour proof membrane on the inside of the home, will make it 4 inches smaller across the width of the building but that is a small price to pay to avoid, damp, mould and wood rot. Lining the inside of the building with two inches of insulation, is an improvement, the proposal is, an extra 2 inches on the inside to help stop the movement of heat to the framing, the spaces between the framing being filled with insulation plus the six inches on the outside.
What is wrong with moving the framing to the perimeter and the insulation to the inside, when it takes up the same amount of space.
You are perfectly correct, fitting sheet polystyrene between joists and rafters is time consuming, however, there are many people who are suffering from large heating bills, who given the knowledge of what is possible in Europe and the miniscule size of heating bills that can be enjoyed will be willing to DIY or pay someone else to sort out their living room and enjoy the winters. It is perfectly true that it is easier to to a bad insulation job, than a time consuming thorough one, however, there are people who will pay once the long term advantages are made clear.
Spray foam is in fact a better insulation, it is also easier to install, while being more expensive. Water vapour moves into and through fiberglass, when it freezes and then thaws it makes the fiberglass wet, and wet equals total loss of insulation.
It is also impossible to make fiberglass an air tight fit between the framing and gaps equal heat loss. The same is true of cellulose, only a closed cell insulation can provide an air proof waterproof insulation. It is 50 years since Dow started to sell Styrofoam and 44 years since I gutted and insulated my first house. Good luck with your campaign to convince North American builders to fit sheets of rigid polystyrene insulation between studs, electrical wires, and electrical boxes.
Believe it or not, some North American builders are concerned about energy efficiency, and have been very familiar with advanced insulation techniques for decades. Dense-packed cellulose does an excellent job of limiting air infiltration and solving the convective loop problem. The GBA Web site has dozens of articles warning builders of the drawbacks of fiberglass insulation. Other areas requiring attention are window installation, door installation, and plumbing penetrations. The other option would be to use stoguard on the entire brick interior of the house, before adding insulation and framing.
While it is true that a piece of Tyvek is an air-barrier material, builders have not been able to achieve 0.6 ach50 by depending on taped Tyvek as the chief air barrier component.
The most common material to create an air barrier below the ceiling truss chords is drywall, of course. If your drywall crew is allergic to caulk and gaskets, you can always go up into your attic after the drywall crew has gone home, and foam the cracks between the partition top plates and the partition drywall from above. York Minster is Northern Europe’s second largest gothic cathedral and has a long and varied history dating back almost 1500 years. The first recorded church built upon the site was in 627ad and was a wooden structure built hastily in order to provide a place to baptise Edwin, the King of Northumbria. When Walter de Gray was made archbishop, in 1215, he ordered the construction of a gothic structure, advising it to be similar to the architecture of Canterbury Cathedral and work began in 1220.
Since then, conservation work has been carried out regularly, including ?2,000,000 spent in 1972 to reinforce and strengthen the foundations and roof and a ?23,000,000 restoration project on the east front in 2007 which included the renovation of the Great East Window.
In fact, conservation is an on-going commitment at York Minster and is one of the largest restoration projects of its kind in the UK.
They recently called on the expertise and specialist knowledge of the professional roofing contractors here at JTC Roofing – and we were extremely proud to undertake the roofing restoration work.
The project involved replacing the North parapet gutter of the Nave roof, using terne coated stainless steel. The work entailed opening up the lead eaves to the roof and inserting the newly formed terne coated stainless steel pans of 0.5mm material thickness. York Minster, and the adjoining school which we also worked out, is a fantastic example of the team here at JTC Roofing use our specialist historic renovation experience to perform superior standard roofing work, paying attention to the heritage and craftsmanship.
For more information on the services provided at JTC Roofing, including our period and historic roofing renovations, give us a call today. Comments: The castle is self-toured with a brochure and contains some very interesting furnishings.
History:The first dwellings to occupy the site in about 970 were part of a Viking trading camp. The O'Briens later built a residence at Dromoland Castle which is now a 5 star luxury hotel. They left the castle in 1804, having built themselves a fine country home (Bunratty House) in the park. At this affordable housing project on Martha’s Vineyard, employees of the South Mountain Company framed the house without any roof overhangs. The first residential air barriers were installed in Saskatchewan in the late 1970s, when pioneering Canadian builders began sealing the seams of interior polyethylene sheeting with Tremco acoustical sealant. The ADA system required gaskets or caulk between drywall and wall plates on exterior walls; any electrical box in an exterior wall needed a special flange to allow it to be caulked to the drywall.
These are the builders who caulk their sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. Typically this requires sealing the seams of the OSB or plywood sheathing with tape — either peel-and-stick tape or the proprietary Zip System tape from Huber. That way it’s easy to seal the transition between the wall sheathing and the roof sheathing.
On Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, Rosenbaum specified the Huber Zip System on an 8-unit residential project designed and built by the South Mountain Company.
There needs to be a clear transition detail from the exterior wall AB to this ceiling AB plane. What I meant, and maybe said, is that i don't believe that people are making functional ABs from housewrap in buildings that are under 1 ACH50. One of the products recommended for cold weather use is Bakor Blueskin Weather Barrier; when I researched the article, the manufacturer recommended the product for use down to 10°F.
You want to use plywood wall sheathing as an air barrier -- but you want the tape covering the seams to be "inboard" of the wall insulation.
Some builders leave the foam and use it as a WRB, with the vertical seams taped and the horizontal seams flashed (or simply equipped with tongue-and-groove joints). Although you write, "If the insulation is placed on the outside, the coldest part of the wall is where it contacts the insulation," the opposite is true. You advise "Lining the inside of the walls, floors and ceilings with at least two inches of polystyrene." But the R-value of such insulation — only R-7 to R-13 — is much too low for most locations in North America.
Although you write, "insulation should be on the room side of the outer walls, ceiling and floors, to keep the comfort zone as small as possible," many people prefer to install the insulation on the exterior side of the wall, to keep the comfort zone as LARGE as possible. This is the second time you have posted a comment advising builders to "Fill the structure [of a wall] with sheet polystyrene." Actually, rigid foam board is one of the most awkward types of insulation to use between studs.
If you install exterior foam that is thick enough to keep the sheathing above the dew point, you won't have any condensation problems.
The walls at the highest risk for condensation problems are fiberglass-insulated walls with no exterior foam. Applying ANY fully adhered air barrier to a stiff, strong backup exterior sheathing will get much lower air leakage rates with the same level as effort as other common approaches.

While I am big fan of exterior rigid air barriers, and recommend nothing but in commercial buildings, I am a realist that this is too much of a leap for 90%+ of American home builders.
But it will take a long time before we get the rest (vast majority) of the housing industry to that point. OSBs that we test have quite a range of wet-cup vapor permeances, and both roof and wall ZIP are essentially the same. For best practice, that means insulation on the exterior to warm it up and to blunt thermal bridges at mudsills and floor joists.
But for higher performance homes there is no reason not to install lapped housewrap or building paper. If the builder chooses vulnerable OSB sheathing, the sheathing will be cold and therefore subject to condensation.
Cellulose acts as a moisture buffer, drawing the condensed moisture away from the OSB and storing it until the weather warms up. That's why he likes to see foam over the OSB -- to keep it nice and warm (and therefore dry). Better insulated walls cost more than poorly insulated walls, so the best job will require more money. As we know water is 4,000 times worse an insulation than air, so as the wood picks up water from the air its insulation properties deteriorate. However, 4 inches off a width of 30 or more feet will not be noticed, except when the heating bills come in. Where there are holes and gaps the suction of the passing wind pulls the warm air from the home. But as this is a vapor barrier, my concern would be that it could trap vapor in the insulated wall on the inside of it. In fact, as I wrote in my comment of April 14 on this page, "StoGuard provides some ability for a wall to dry to the exterior. Use caulk or gaskets between the drywall used on partition walls and the partition top plates.
Weatherstrip the attic access hatch, or provide limited access to the attic through a rarely used panel at the gable wall. Connect the ceiling air barrier with the wall air barrier with good perimeter details — probably involving spray foam.
Initially built with wood, the church has undergone numerous transformations over the two centuries, including complete refurbishments and organised repairs, and has survived two fires and William the Conqueror’s harrying of the North! A stronger, more significant building began to be constructed in the 630s, with a stone structure being completed in 637.
A wealth of projects were undertaken, including the construction of Chapter House, the wide nave and the roofing and vaulting, and the cathedral was finally declared complete and consecrated in 1472. Those in charge are dedicated to keeping the traditional architecture and heritage and, as a result, utilise a combination of cutting-edge science and ancient craftsmanship when undertaking any remedial restorative work. The old lead was laid in very long lengths which contravenes all of today’s codes of practice and so had to be replaced. The stainless steel arrived in coil form, requiring careful marking and forming up using dog ears at the step lines. Also, the laps to the main lead roof sheets on the steep pitch were opened and re-nailed using 25mm annular ring shank stainless steel nails.
Our team’s huge efforts, top quality workmanship and care to detail ensured the finished roofing restoration was completed to the best possible standard and in line with the Minster’s traditional design. The Canadian builders (and their American imitators) went to a lot of trouble to weave the interior poly around framing members at rim-joist areas and partition intersections. For more information on the performance of a variety of air-sealing tapes, see Return to the Backyard Tape Test. After the air barrier is established and sealed, framers can build rake and eave overhangs as separate elements attached to the exterior sheathing. Rosenbaum doesn’t use rigid foam as an air barrier; in his opinion, it’s too flimsy to pass the durability requirement. The recently completed Bement School Dorm in Deerfield, MA used this approach and is below 1 ACH50. In other words, all insulation is on the outside of the wall sheathing — following the "modified PERSIST" or "modified REMOTE" method.
It is much more difficult to fit the insulation in nooks and crannies, and around the electrical wiring, than blown-in-place cellulose or fiberglass. If you use a double stud wall, then I am concerned, but I have a low risk threshold since I am a forensic consultant too. If you need to run a dehumidifier in most climates, it usually means that there's something wrong with your house. However, the use of ICFs does not address airtightness at the ceiling or roof, so attention must still be paid to these planes, as well as to the area where the top of the wall meets the ceiling joists or roof framing. This as I am developing details for Brownstone gut renovations and was intending to use it as an air-barrier (but vapor open) membrane on the inside of the brick of the century old brick buildings. However, this was damaged in 1069 during William the Conqueror’s campaigns to subjugate Northern England but Thomas of Bayeux, the first Norman archbishop arrived a year later in 1070 and organised repairs. This is because lead expands slightly over time and, as a result, if laid too largely can creep and crack. The formed pans may then have the fronts formed and soldered (hot work out of place where possible) so as to form a drop into the sump outlets. Sand cast lead clipping tags were also lead welded on to the sheet to then restrain the centres of the laps in the sheets. After the integrity of the air barrier was verified, framing pieces were installed to extend the roof at the eaves and rakes. The approach takes lots of careful workmanship and you can’t really test it until you’re almost done. If thats the case, what about hydrostatic pressure between the foam board and the sheathing if any moisture gets to the wood sheathing layer (which it most likely will in the life of the home)?
The stud bays are empty, and 6 inches of rigid foam is installed on the outside of the plywood sheathing. If you can afford spray polyurethane foam or dense-packed cellulose, either option will perform better than the fiberglass batts you have now.
Saint Wilfred then repaired and renewed the structure when he became the Archbishop of York, paying particular attention to the attached school and library. Stainless steel, on the other hand, has a much lower thermal expansion rate, making it a much more suitable material. I've seen one builder hold Vycor in position and staple it up since the adhesive wouldn't stick, apparently hoping the adhesive would adhere itself once the weather warmed up.
The plane where the wall contacts the insulation is now warm — it's not the coldest part of the wall. According to Petsko, builders don’t have to worry that siding fasteners will cause StoGuard to leak. The costs — not just in dollars but in training and education of trades and code officials — of each approach is different in different areas, and so all of the approaches are "OK" — but "best" will depend. The coldest part of the wall is the exterior surface of the foam insulation (or the siding). Am putting in new windows as well so am trying to figure out how all will be fitting together with window trim to match built out wall etc.

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