Searching for Clues to Wet Sheathing - Fine Homebuilding

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Breaktime Spotlight

Breaktime Spotlight


Searching for Clues to Wet Sheathing

comments (10) August 3rd, 2012 in Blogs
ScottG Scott Gibson, contributing writer


Buster found a deal, a 6-year-old beach house in Washington state. He picked it up in an online auction and has plans to turn it into a retirement home something in the next 10 years.


More on sheathing

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Foam sheathing: inside or out?

Plywood vs. OSB


It sounds ideal, except for a "very sad surprise." When Buster went to replace some brick molding around a door, it looked as if the Tyvek housewrap beneath the siding had been installed incorrectly, or was faulty, leaving the OSB sheathing saturated.

"The siding is [HardiePlank] lap siding," Buster writes in a post at Fine Homebuilding's Breaktime Construction Techniques forum. "My wife is thinking I need to remove the siding/sheathing! "

In doing a little sleuthing in the area, Buster has discovered there are apparently other houses with much the same problem. And in speaking with contractors along the coast, Buster says he's been told the housewrap is the problem.

"They ALL say Tyvek is crap since it does not 'breathe,' holding moisture in," he writes. "Now, my dilemma: What do I do now? Does anyone know of a suit against this product? Is the contractor liable at all?"

Hold the phone, Buster, it's not the Tyvek

"I think you'll find that the installation techniques used for the Tyvek, the windows/doors/other penetrations to be at fault," Calvin writes.

What's happened is that water has found its way behind the housewrap, and in a wet climate it's tough for building assemblies to dry out when the water infiltration--the real source of the problem--hasn't been addressed, Calvin says.

As to legal remedies, not a good plan. "I don't know of any class action suits but would be surprised if the pay out would even come close to solving your problem," Calvin adds. "I would think you'd have to provide product failure (remove all the siding and show the proper housewrap install was done) beyond any doubt and then what would they give you? Another roll?"

A more successful route might be seeing what the builder will do.

No luck there, says Buster. The contractor has folded.

Calvin is right, says evujevich, it's not the Tyvek at all.

"It can't be Tyvek's fault," writes evujevich, "seeing how there's millions and millions of homes out there using the product. There are hundreds of building products out there, and it is up to the contractors to figure out how to apply them in their region."

Understanding the working characteristics of Tyvek might help, DanH suggests. 

"There exists **NO** material that is a 'one way valve' in that it will pass moisture one direction and not the other," he writes. "Tyvek is pretty good in that water VAPOR will pass through it relatively easily, while LIQUID water will not, but to the extent that either passes through, it does so equally well in both directions.

"In this case liquid water somehow got behind the Tyvek, and since liquid water does not pass through Tyvek easily it stayed there. The Tyvek did 'attempt' to dry things out by letting vapor through, but there was too much water to deal with this way.

"What this says is that some installation defect 'channeled' water behind the Tyvek," DanH adds. "It's not a failure of the Tyvek to 'breathe.'

Correct, adds Hokuto. "The real problem is likely the application of HardiePlank directly against the WRB (Tyvek) in a climate where you're guaranteed to get large amounts of water behind the cladding. Water gets behind the siding, but has no way to get out. The water (or something else) may have also added surfactants that destroyed the Tyvek's ability to shed water."

"Tyvek does breathe," says PaulCP, "but it will also let water in like every other product you don't install correctly! I hate it when people blame the product for the installation."

Try a rain screen to let wall dry out

 To be fair, Buster's new home is in a challenging environment, a place where "rain rarely falls vertically," as he puts it.

And given those circumstances, evujevich suggests he consider a rain screen. Start by pulling the siding off the house, then install pressure-treated 2x2s over the studs and reinstall the HardiePlank siding. Because rain screens separate siding from the sheathing and housewrap, water driven through siding can exit freely, and the back side of the siding can dry readily because of added air circulation.

"Reasoning?" evujevich writes. "Called a controlled rainscreen. Install a J channel underneath...which will collect the moisture that penetrates past the hardyboard.. this way the moisture can run off, plus the walls will breathe even more, alowing the tyvek to do ITS job, and that's to dryout.

"Problem was entrapment," evujevich adds. "Depending on the size of the house, this would be a fun weekend job if you ask me... Besides this would be a perfect opportunity to tuck tape any seams, windows, or around the door for that matter."

Hokuto says that in addition to a rain screen, Buster consider back-priming all of the trim after it's been removed--even if it had been backprimed the first time.

"IMHO, the best (read: ideal) solution, as several of us have hinted,would naturally be to remove the siding/trim, check out the entire Tyvek installation, let the OSB dry out, install more Tyvek and seal it properly with Tyvek tape (over edges of Tyvek-Tyvek laps) and butyl rubber tape (over Tyvek-nailing fin joints)," Hokuto says.

"Then do a rain screen installation of new siding. Cost a lot? Definitely. But unless you're able to sort out where the water problem is, and how extensive, you'll just be delaying the inevitable, and at greater cost later."

 

 

 

 


posted in: Blogs, sheathing

Comments (10)

Edward1234 Edward1234 writes: Great Article. Thank you for posting this. You might be interested in checking out fine luxury homes by Brejnik Fine Homes(www.brejnik.ca). They build fine luxury houses. Brejnik team consists of qualified and trusted: Architects, Interior Designers, Appraisers / Lenders, Trades & Suppliers, Geo-technical engineers, Structural Engineers, Arborists, Landscape Architects, Pool & Water Feature.
Posted: 5:01 am on May 15th

the craftsman the craftsman writes: mexicans picked up at home depot by know nothing contractors
come to your house to install siding is the problem in my area
then try to get them to fix rot down the road ...good luck sucker
Posted: 4:52 pm on April 22nd

Gough Gough writes: Our firm just finished a complete re-siding job on a 10-year old house. In addition to re-siding, we had to replace quite a bit of the OSB, as well as some studs that had rotted. Unlike the building in the original article, this isn't a particularly wet area; we average about 24" of precip per year. Still, the poor detailing by the builder of this house led to a substantial amount of water damage in less than ten years. Based on what we saw, the single most critical area is around windows and doors. I have to echo what Matt Risinger posted about poor install details. I have yet to see a new house around here with the housewrap properly detailed at the windows. The most common approach in this area seems to be to "X" the housewrap, fold it in, staple it, install the window, and then put blueskin flashing tape around the window. No sill pan or sill flashing and no "shingled" drainage plane.

The other areas that we've seen that lead to problems are failure to use splines behind butt joints in siding and at corners. Instead, the builders are relying on caulk to prevent intrusion of water.

It seems to me that the best approach is to take steps to prevent water from getting behind the siding, but, more importantly, know that that's inevitable and detail the housewrap, etc. to allow that moisture to escape with a minimum amount of damage.



Posted: 1:06 pm on September 3rd

Matt Risinger Matt Risinger writes: Hey Scott, Great post! I've been using Tyvek successfully for 10 years and you're right it's ALL about the install. I've seen many, many houses under construction using Tyvek (and other house wraps) with incredibly poor install details. Follow their (Tyvek's) excellent install directions, use their full system, including sill pans for your windows using Flexwrap, and Straightflash Butyl based window flashing tape and you set your houses up for a weather tight exterior for the next 75-100-125+ years. Matt Risinger
Posted: 9:06 am on August 14th

Brentwood Brentwood writes: There is no doubt there have been bad products on the market over the years, but most problems are caused by bad installers. Even some less than optimum materials can perform if correctly applied and then properly maintained. I have been in the building business for 47 years and have lived and worked in several different climates. Each climate has to be taken into consideration and appropriate methods have to be employed for those conditions. Many methods and materials I used 1000 miles inland worked fine, but can not be used here on the Oregon coast where I have lived and bulit for the past 22 years as a contractor. The last 8 years I was also a full time house and building inspector. After moving here I had to relearn many things I had been doing all my life. It is correct that the immediate coastal environment is probably the harshest and most unforgiving there is. Builders actually are required to be able to read and follow instructions and if it is not clear call and talk to company tech advisors before installing materials with which they are not familiar.
I personally think fiber cement siding is a very good choice for wet environments as long as it installed correctly. I also quit using the new house wraps several years ago and went back to the tried and true felt paper. I have seen felt on 100 year old buildings that is still performing. There have been some very good, scientific studies that have concluded that felt is as good a choice as any, and probably superior in many ways to the newer wraps. Again: whatever is used, it still has to be properly applied, lapped, flashed,and sealed to work and avoid problems and excessive moisture intrusion and the inability for that moisture to escape and dry effectively when it does get in. And it will always get in despite the best of human efforts.
Just read directions and use good, smart, logical methods of installation and don't be so quick to put the blame on materials.
Posted: 8:48 pm on August 13th

CapnJohn CapnJohn writes: This is another case that proves Tyvek does not work. I wore it for awhile in the form of Goretex on board ship. the salt crystals from the sea water and the salt crystals from human sweat clog the pores.
Some years ago I watched Bob Villa apply cedar shingles to a house. After wrapping the house with Tyvek, they applied 15# felt paper to every corner and around every window and door. this got me thinking: When you drive a nail in Tyvek, you have a hole that will allow water to reach the sheathing. You drive a nail in tar paper, and it is sealed.
While the concept is good, the product is not.
I am about to apply Hardie siding to my home, and Tyvek must be or the warranty is void.
I asked my contractor to test the Tyvek. Per my instructions, he laid a sheet of paper towel in a brownie pan and laid a scrap of Tyvek on top, making a depression. He poured water in the depression. AS you guessed, the paper towel was soon saturated.
Tyvek does not keep out water! Even the smallest amount of water will develop hydrostatic pressure and want to force its way towards a dry area.
If I were going to stay in this house, I would install a rainscreen.
Further, in our climate, the vapour barrier should be on the outside of the house. My preference would be a non-permeable vapour barrier, on the outside, covered by a product like tar paper that seals around nails.
In many ways, Hardie, like so many other products, are poor siding products because water gets in.
To seal joints for instance, the accepted practice is to apply a bead of caulk on top of the joint. this is poor.
After years on boats, I've learned that to make an effective joint, it must first be mechanical, meaning the water has to defy physics to penetrate. Put in the case of hardie, apply a heavy bead of a caulk/sealant to the end of the board then push the pieces together so that the sealant squeezes out. You now have a good seal.
Caulk/sealants should be mould and UV resistant and flexible. Sikaflex for instance will expand 900% before it fails. 3M 4000UV might be suitable in that it does not break down from UV and cleans up with rubbing alcohol.
In conclusion, we have yet to find the ideal system, though I favour cedar shingles over tar paper. When the shingles get wet, they swell to create a seal. And the tar paper prevents water from getting to the sheathing. And it is beautiful. It must be nice, because products like Hardie try to imitate its appearance.

Posted: 4:40 pm on August 13th

CapnJohn CapnJohn writes: This is another case that proves Tyvek does not work. I wore it for awhile in the form of Goretex on board ship. the salt crystals from the sea water and the salt crystals from human sweat clog the pores.
Some years ago I watched Bob Villa apply cedar shingles to a house. After wrapping the house with Tyvek, they applied 15# felt paper to every corner and around every window and door. this got me thinking: When you drive a nail in Tyvek, you have a hole that will allow water to reach the sheathing. You drive a nail in tar paper, and it is sealed.
While the concept is good, the product is not.
I am about to apply Hardie siding to my home, and Tyvek must be or the warranty is void.
I asked my contractor to test the Tyvek. Per my instructions, he laid a sheet of paper towel in a brownie pan and laid a scrap of Tyvek on top, making a depression. He poured water in the depression. AS you guessed, the paper towel was soon saturated.
Tyvek does not keep out water! Even the smallest amount of water will develop hydrostatic pressure and want to force its way towards a dry area.
If I were going to stay in this house, I would install a rainscreen.
Further, in our climate, the vapour barrier should be on the outside of the house. My preference would be a non-permeable vapour barrier, on the outside, covered by a product like tar paper that seals around nails.
In many ways, Hardie, like so many other products, are poor siding products because water gets in.
To seal joints for instance, the accepted practice is to apply a bead of caulk on top of the joint. this is poor.
After years on boats, I've learned that to make an effective joint, it must first be mechanical, meaning the water has to defy physics to penetrate. Put in the case of hardie, apply a heavy bead of a caulk/sealant to the end of the board then push the pieces together so that the sealant squeezes out. You now have a good seal.
Caulk/sealants should be mould and UV resistant and flexible. Sikaflex for instance will expand 900% before it fails. 3M 4000UV might be suitable in that it does not break down from UV and cleans up with rubbing alcohol.
In conclusion, we have yet to find the ideal system, though I favour cedar shingles over tar paper. When the shingles get wet, they swell to create a seal. And the tar paper prevents water from getting to the sheathing. And it is beautiful. It must be nice, because products like Hardie try to immitate its appearance.
Posted: 4:35 pm on August 13th

CapnJohn CapnJohn writes: This is another case that proves Tyvek does not work. I wore it for awhile in the form of Goretex on board ship. the salt crystals from the sea water and the salt crystals from human sweat clog the pores.
Some years ago I watched Bob Villa apply cedar shingles to a house. After wrapping the house with Tyvek, they applied 15# felt paper to every corner and around every window and door. this got me thinking: When you drive a nail in Tyvek, you have a hole that will allow water to reach the sheathing. You drive a nail in tar paper, and it is sealed.
While the concept is good, the product is not.
I am about to apply Hardie siding to my home, and Tyvek must be or the warranty is void.
I asked my contractor to test the Tyvek. Per my instructions, he laid a sheet of paper towel in a brownie pan and laid a scrap of Tyvek on top, making a depression. He poured water in the depression. AS you guessed, the paper towel was soon saturated.
Tyvek does not keep out water! Even the smallest amount of water will develop hydrostatic pressure and want to force its way towards a dry area.
If I were going to stay in this house, I would install a rainscreen.
Further, in our climate, the vapour barrier should be on the outside of the house. My preference would be a non-permeable vapour barrier, on the outside, covered by a product like tar paper that seals around nails.
In many ways, Hardie, like so many other products, are poor siding products because water gets in.
To seal joints for instance, the accepted practice is to apply a bead of caulk on top of the joint. this is poor.
After years on boats, I've learned that to make an effective joint, it must first be mechanical, meaning the water has to defy physics to penetrate. Put in the case of hardie, apply a heavy bead of a caulk/sealant to the end of the board then push the pieces together so that the sealant squeezes out. You now have a good seal.
Caulk/sealants should be mould and UV resistant and flexible. Sikaflex for instance will expand 900% before it fails. 3M 4000UV might be suitable in that it does not break down from UV and cleans up with rubbing alcohol.
In conclusion, we have yet to find the ideal system, though I favour cedar shingles over tar paper. When the shingles get wet, they swell to create a seal. And the tar paper prevents water from getting to the sheathing. And it is beautiful. It must be nice, because products like Hardie try to immitate its appearance.
Posted: 4:34 pm on August 13th

CapnJohn CapnJohn writes: This is another case that proves Tyvek does not work. I wore it for awhile in the form of Goretex on board ship. the salt crystals from the sea water and the salt crystals from human sweat clog the pores.
Some years ago I watched Bob Villa apply cedar shingles to a house. After wrapping the house with Tyvek, they applied 15# felt paper to every corner and around every window and door. this got me thinking: When you drive a nail in Tyvek, you have a hole that will allow water to reach the sheathing. You drive a nail in tar paper, and it is sealed.
While the concept is good, the product is not.
I am about to apply Hardie siding to my home, and Tyvek must be or the warranty is void.
I asked my contractor to test the Tyvek. Per my instructions, he laid a sheet of paper towel in a brownie pan and laid a scrap of Tyvek on top, making a depression. He poured water in the depression. AS you guessed, the paper towel was soon saturated.
Tyvek does not keep out water! Even the smallest amount of water will develop hydrostatic pressure and want to force its way towards a dry area.
If I were going to stay in this house, I would install a rainscreen.
Further, in our climate, the vapour barrier should be on the outside of the house. My preference would be a non-permeable vapour barrier, on the outside, covered by a product like tar paper that seals around nails.
In many ways, Hardie, like so many other products, are poor siding products because water gets in.
To seal joints for instance, the accepted practice is to apply a bead of caulk on top of the joint. this is poor.
After years on boats, I've learned that to make an effective joint, it must first be mechanical, meaning the water has to defy physics to penetrate. Put in the case of hardie, apply a heavy bead of a caulk/sealant to the end of the board then push the pieces together so that the sealant squeezes out. You now have a good seal.
Caulk/sealants should be mould and UV resistant and flexible. Sikaflex for instance will expand 900% before it fails. 3M 4000UV might be suitable in that it does not break down from UV and cleans up with rubbing alcohol.
In conclusion, we have yet to find the ideal system, though I favour cedar shingles over tar paper. When the shingles get wet, they swell to create a seal. And the tar paper prevents water from getting to the sheathing. And it is beautiful. It must be nice, because products like Hardie try to immitate its appearance.
Posted: 4:34 pm on August 13th

jimrno jimrno writes: I am watching extensive rot repair being done to an 8 year old Washington coast (Long Beach/Ocean Park) house. The exterior envelope of the house looked fine, and it had recently passed a building inspection. The rot was discovered when new owner notice some mold on the drywall.

The house has Hardie type plank siding, but with 15# felt over OSB. The tar paper looked worn out, thin, and dry, like it had been beaten to death by way too much of that high wind driven sideways rain infiltrating.

Builders here say vinyl siding flexes in high wind, allowing rain to infiltrate, soak the felt, then not allow drying out, and thus causing extensive rot.
Could Hardie type plank siding also be acting somehow similar to vinyl siding?

Note I have been watching eight different builders putting up various private homes, not one of the builders has done a rain screen behind the siding. They also say nearly every rot repair job they do is under Tyvek, so they use felt.
Posted: 8:47 am on August 6th

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