Beyond OSB: Wall Sheathings That Multitask
Can a product that provides structure, housewrap, and even insulation save you time and money?
Synopsis: When is wall sheathing not just wall sheathing? How about when it insulates, too, or has housewrap integrated as a component? FHB senior editor Charles Bickford explored the latest in wall sheathings and discovered products that go beyond the call of duty. Structural Insulated Sheathing from Dow also provides insulation and a weatherproof barrier; Nautilus Wall Sheathing from Georgia-Pacific has housewrap glued to one side; and Huber’s ZIP System panels have an outer layer called Stormex meant to take the place of housewrap. This article includes a sidebar on Nyloboard, a new material made of recycled nylon-carpet fibers, and a sidebar on the tapes used with sheathing products.
Remember when somebody started selling peanut butter and jelly in the same jar? Well, a few manufacturers have recently developed sheathing products that combine two or more functions in one product. In part, it’s an effort to simplify the increasingly complex business of building a house.
It didn’t used to be so complicated, but then, it used to cost only pennies to heat a house, and mold grew only on cheese and not inside walls. These days, it’s in everyone’s interest to make houses as tight and as energy efficient as we can. To that end, the materials and the processes of home building have become a lot more complex. Take the evolution of sheathing materials and exterior-wall assemblies over the past 100 years. That subdermal layer of a house’s skin has gone from solid 1x boards with the siding nailed directly over them to 4×8 sheets of engineered plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) with a carefully woven collection of housewrap, rainscreens, tape, and flashing materials that make an exterior wall perform better and last longer. Plain old OSB still has the lion’s share of the national sheathing…