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Backyard Tape Test

An unscientific—but telling—trial of air-sealing tapes

Proper air-sealing is one of the keys to an energy-efficient house, but choosing the right air-sealing tape can be a challenge. In this article, senior editor Martin Holladay writes about his informal backyard test of 11 air-sealing tapes. Holladay attached several substrates to his shed, then applied strips of various tapes to see how they held up over the course of a late-fall month. The tapes use three types of adhesive: rubberized asphalt, butyl, or acrylic. The 11 tapes spanned a wide price range and included products from Dow, Venture, Nashua, Siga, Zip System, Polyken, 3M, and Pro Clima. The substrates included XPS, foil-faced polyiso, plywood, OSB, housewrap, and polyethylene. In the end, Holladay learned that there is no such thing as all-purpose tape and that certain tapes work better with specific substrates. This article includes sidebars about the economics of choosing tapes and substrates, and about the issue of vapor permeance.

Backyard Tape Test
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