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Tyvek Building Wrap Installation and Problems You Want Avoid

Tyvek Install

There are videos below if you want to jump straight into some visuals…

Otherwise, let’s cover some background knowledge about house wrap before getting to the installation.

Having solid knowledge will allow you to communicate with your customer in a meaningful way. The quality of your work and your reputation are what will allow you to be successful over the long haul…

What Is Tyvek House Wrap?

Tyvek is a synthetic polyethylene (plastic) fiber material made by the chemical and textile company DuPont.

The material is often used as a house wrap in addition to many other items such as those white suits that you see when painting or doing some other dirty job.

Tyvek is difficult to tear, comes by the roll, and is easy to cut with scissors or a knife. This makes installing it fairly easy and simple.

So what makes Tyvek so useful?

Liquids cannot pass through Tyvek, but water vapor can.

This is why it’s so useful as rainwater will often blow or absorb through house siding and settle inside the walls.

But there’s another benefit…

Humans and pets living inside the house create water vapor in the form of sweat. Any rigorous activity makes us sweat a noticeable amount, but we also slowly lose water while sitting too.

Tyvek allows this excess humidity to work its way outside the house through the walls.

Allowing water vapor to exit the home and blocking outside liquid from reaching inside the wall performs a very important function…

A properly wrapped home prevents the development of rot, mildew, and mold inside the walls.

House Wrap Window

Does Tyvek Help Insulation?

The answer is kinda…

Tyvek prevents insulation from becoming wet. This allows insulation to perform at its stated R-Value instead of becoming soggy and useless.

Wrapping a house with Tyvek will not increase the R-Value of the walls.

Cost Of Tyvek

Tyvek is fairly reasonable considering you can get a 9’x150’ roll for $167 at Lowes or Home Depot.

Menards carries a different brand, but the cost is comparable for the same size roll.

This breaks down to about 12-15 cents per square foot. The 150’ rolls I looked up were on the 12.5 cent side and the 100’ rolls were cheaper but weighed in at 15 cents per square foot.

So you get more bang for your buck by taking home a longer roll of house wrap.

This doesn’t include any contractor discounts you may get, so check around your local area and see what deal you can get that day.

I did come across a supply on Amazon, but the price was higher. Local is the way to go unless you don’t have a choice.

How To Wrap a House

Let’s let Bob Villa show us how it’s done in a video. I’ll follow it up with a list of helpful tips to remember when you begin wrapping.

  1. Start at the bottom so the upper layers overlap to prevent moisture from running behind the wrap.
  2. Overlap all seams by 6” to be safe.
  3. It’s recommended to use cap nails, but every house I see is fastened using a hammer stapler to fasten it to the walls.
  4. Go right over the window and door opening so that you can cut and fold the excess over the edges of the openings and staple for full coverage.
  5. Most manufacturers recommend taping all the seams. Not getting the tape right can cause water to get behind the Tyvek and leads to litigation. I’ve not seen any builders use tape in my area on any seams though. And I mean none of them. You can normally see bits flapping in the wind.
  6. Use a roller to help adhere the tape to the seams. Doing all the seams correctly will give the structure a professional look and make you look like you’re on it.
  7. All of the builders in my city appear to be using green board sheets to wrap the houses these days. The last major builder switched over 7 months ago from what I can tell.

Number 5 bums me out because I cannot tell you how many homes I’ve driven by in the last couple of years that have bits flapping in the wind because they weren’t stapled well or taped.

That’s the way it goes…

How To Install House Wrap Around Windows

If you plan on not taping the seams…

Be sure to not cut out the window and door holes without leaving plenty of extra material to fold around the jack studs.

You want complete coverage all the way inside the opening so that you can staple it on the inside of the wall. Handling the top of window openings is a little trickier.

The best way to get the point across when using taps is with a video demonstration from the manufacturer…

What Is House Wrap Tape?

Tape used for wrapping houses has aggressive adhesive on it and needs to be smoothed by a roller or squeegee so that it makes a complete and permanent seal. Screwing this up on the horizontal seams will allow water to get behind the Tyvek and can lead to litigation.

House wrap tape is typically applied after the entire building has been wrapped.

Do You Have to Tape House Wrap?

As stated above, I haven’t personally seen a taped Tyvek wrapped house in several years. I routinely drive throughout a dozen new neighborhoods in my area and none are ever taped.

Again, all the builders here started using green board…

Either way…House wrap tape is a critical component to properly installed house wrap and allows it to function properly.

The risk of air leaking, moisture issues, and higher HVAC costs are mitigated by using tape properly.

Here are 7 reasons not to tape house wrap seams:

  1. Water will drain properly without the tape catching it and allowing it to get behind the Tyvek.
  2. Vertical seams won’t wick moisture similar to #1.
  3. The tape is a vapor block and can restrict vapor transmission in areas where there are a lot of taped seams.
  4. Tyvek doesn’t need to be as clean when installing as there will not be any tape adhesion issues to worry about.
  5. Can install Tyvek regardless of outdoor temperatures.
  6. Faster to install.
  7. Costs less.

Tyvek House Wrap Problems

There are issues caused by taping and issues caused by not taping as stated above. It’s something you will have to decide for yourself.

Leaving a house exposed to sunlight (not siding or installing stucco for several months after wrapping) quickly causes the house wrap to deteriorate.

It makes it less water-resistant and could potentially allow mold and mildew to form in the walls…

The same issues arise when the top layers don’t overlap the bottom layers of wrap.

Using staples instead of cap nails has the potential of allowing moisture inside the walls as well.

I would personally use cap nails to cover my ass for sure in addition to taping the vertical seams.

But that’s just my opinion. Let me know how you decide to do it in the comments below.

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