If you're building a new home or renovating your existing residence, house wrap is an important part of creating an energy efficient home. You may have seen the covering on new construction homes in the area. But what is that stuff, and how does it help reduce your energy use and save you money?
What is House Wrap?
Modern homes are typically constructed using wood-framed, insulated stud walls. A protective layer, called house wrap, is placed over top of the studs and insulation before concrete, vinyl, brick, stone, steel, or some other type of siding is affixed to the home's exterior. When house wrap is installed, it is laid down in sheet layers, with the higher layers overlapping the lower ones, creating a water barrier. The house wrap layer helps to keep moisture from entering the walls, where dampness can cause wood rot or allow dangerous mold to form.
Traditional house wrap was made of asphalt felt paper (also known as "roofing felt" or "tar paper") or fiberglass. It was traditionally made of a base of organic materials like rag fiber or cellulose fibers woven into sheets and impregnated with coal tar, which resists water. Over time, the organic base layer was replaced with lighter products, including asbestos matting and synthetic products like polyester and fiberglass.
Nowadays, synthetic-based asphalt paper is still commonly used, but fully synthetic house wrap products that do not use coal tar are much more popular. Asphalt felt is heavy, highly flammable, and breaks down with long exposure to UV light. It's also a non-renewable resource, and its installation process can pose health hazards. Newer materials like Tyvek are lighter, better for the environment and your health, and more effective for long-term protection of your home. Some types contain fibers that repel water completely, making a moisture-proof seal around the home. Other types have small holes that let the material breathe and allow water vapor to escape before it penetrates into the walls.
How Can House Wrap Save Energy (and Money)?
In addition to preventing mold formation and rotting of your home's framing, protecting your home from moisture helps its insulation work better. Moisture conducts heat, which causes fiberglass or cellulose insulation to lose its R-value (its insulating quality). House wrap also acts as a seal to prevent excess air infiltration or leakage. Overall, house wrap helps keep heat and humidity out in the summer and warm air in during the winter—helping keep your heating and cooling costs down. In addition to saving money on energy bills, this can prolong the life of your HVAC system by lightening its workload.
Since house wrap stops or slows the transfer of air from outside to the inside of the home, it provides a barrier that helps minimize allergens and keep indoor air clean. It also offers protection from U.V. radiation and is insect- and animal- resistant (helping to keep critters out of your home's walls and attic).
How Do I Install House Wrap?
A professional contractor should install your house wrap. While it is frequently done prior to door and window installation on a new home, it can also be added as part of a siding remodel. If it's time to replace your home's siding, especially due to the age or damaged condition of your current siding, you should consider installing new house wrap. It can end up saving you money and turning your home into a safer, cleaner environment for you and your family.
House wrap must be installed correctly in order to perform effectively. If it is not handled carefully during installation, it can rip or tear. It should be a waterproof protective surface for your home and also have a high moisture vapor transmission rate (the rate water vapor passes through a material at a certain humidity and temperature). If not installed professionally or correctly, it could fail to perform these function and actually cause damage to your home from moisture and mold growth.
Let the professionals at Hedrick Construction handle your house wrap and siding installation services, whether you live in Ankeny, Ames, Huxley, or the surrounding Des Moines metro area. We'd love to talk to you about how house wrap can help to boost the energy efficiency of your home and all the great siding choices that are on the market today. Give us a call or click for a free estimate now!