Quotes: Recipe for Disaster

Recipe for Disaster Take one owner with capital budget; separate operating budget and ignore. Add one architect and heat until steamed. Expose three or more tenders, exchange parts, and trim extraneous portions. Select thinnest and discard remainder. Remove architect, save essence. Assemble subtrades, compare and trim extraneous portions. Select thinnest. Store subtrades in dark. Collect…

Open EIFS: A Resilient 100 Year Wall

Open EIFS is an Exterior Insulation and Finish System that achieves high moisture resilience through increased drying capacity and redundant, yet practical, safeguards.  When implemented holistically, this assembly is both durable and high-performing. The concept builds upon research originally conducted by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which demonstrated high moisture performance in EIFS configured with…

Improved Moisture Management With Plan Reviews

In an earlier article, we outlined some general aspects of plan reviews and the benefits gained relative to costs (article link).  Here, we focus on plan reviews related specifically to the building enclosure, including roof, wall, foundation, and floor assemblies.  As with all plan reviews, the purpose is focused squarely on minimizing errors and omissions. However, building enclosure…

Making It Green Does Not Make It Right

The principles and practices of green building have had a transforming effect on the way we build, work, and live. By ‘green’ I refer to a collective of high-performing objectives in sustainability, energy-efficiency, healthy building, and resiliency.  Inherent to its mission are claims of improved building performance – that is, perceived betterments in resource use,…

Degradation of Fiber Cement Siding

Degradation Of Medium-Density Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement cladding has found wide acceptance as a durable and renewable material.   Since entering the U.S. market in the early 1990s, assumptions on its long-term resiliency have relied heavily on wet/dry cycling tests, but little is reported on its durability under typical in-service conditions.   Here we describe four stages of fiber cement degradation under…

Is TimberSIL Resilient?

TimberSIL is a glass-infused wood manufactured by Timber Treatment Technologies.  Marketed as a green substitute to conventional chemically-treated wood, TimberSIL has come under recent scrutiny for questionable performance under intended designed conditions.  We use this situation to discuss the implications of vetting new products on the basis of green material ratings. Criticisms have emerged over the product’s susceptibility to rot and poor acceptance of common coatings.  Perhaps…

Quotes: Rainscreens

“… it can be concluded that the face seal systems evaluated  in this study are very sensitive to design and construction variables which  lead to ingress of water through the cladding, and that in the environment  of the Lower Mainland it may not be possible to achieve acceptable performance  with face sealed systems. Concealed barrier…

The 2012 Energy Code Necessitates Perfection

Adoption of the 2012 International Energy Code will require exterior continuous wall insulation for climate zones 6, 7, and 8.  When used in combination with cavity insulation, the minimum requirements include 20+5 or 13+10.  The first value pertains to cavity insulation whereas the second is continuous exterior insulation (CI).   Although comparable insulation strategies are also…

Quotes: Stucco Durability

“Stucco has a great deal to recommend it in house construction, but it has also some conspicuous drawbacks. Stucco is much like the little girl who, “when she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.” When properly made and applied it is durable, inexpensive to maintain, a…

Brick And Concrete Masonry Failures: Considerations For Preserving Post-War Era Buildings

Concrete masonry construction was common practice in post-war Modern architecture where it was used extensively in schools, churches, public buildings, and industrial complexes.  Brick and concrete block-bonded construction gained favor in many public buildings for its perceived durability, aesthetics, and relative ease of construction.  Over 50 years later, many of these buildings now have historic significance but suffer…

Mold-Resistant Construction Materials: Godsend Or Gimmick?

Quality moisture management relies heavily on guidance intended to reduce surface relative humidity below thresholds for mold.   The companion to this approach is centered on using materials that are more resistant to mold either by using naturally resistant materials or by employing materials and products manufactured with chemical inhibitors.  Mold-resistance strategies assume that materials can sustain…

Unintended Consequences Of Self-Adhered Flashing

Self-adhered flashings (SAFs) and peel-and-stick membranes are used extensively in moisture control strategies for building enclosures.  When properly integrated with flashed components and weather-resistive barriers, this approach is seen as a time-saving, cost-effective solution to moisture-related failures.   However, an unintended problem occurs when moisture accumulates between the flashing and sheathing due to moisture leaks or as a…