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Archive for November, 2012

Sean Peden, Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors, Kansas City, applies primary air & water barrier PROSOCO R-GUARD MVP at Trail Ridge Middles School. Stephen Falls photo

Sean Peden, Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors, Kansas City, applies primary air & water barrier PROSOCO R-GUARD MVP at Trail Ridge Middles School. Stephen Falls photo

Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors, Kansas City, recently applied one of our air & water barrier systems on the under-construction Trail Ridge Middle School, not too far away.

That was great news for us in Marketing, because it meant we could grab some photos and video of our products being installed. We don’t get that chance too often. When we do learn about projects, they’re often in other states.

We get what we can from our reps in the field, but they don’t always have the time or skills to get us professional-grade imagery for our ads, newsletters, videos and other marketing products. So we were excited to get this chance.

Stephen Falls, our photographer and graphic artist; and John Young, our multimedia and video specialist headed to the job site.

They found Shane Peden of Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors applying the products. On this job, he used gun-and-spread R-GUARD Joint & Seam Filler and FastFlash to detail rough openings and other penetrations in the CMU back-up wall.

Then he sprayed and backrolled a 10 mil layer of R-GUARD MVP (Maximum Vapor Permeability) primary air & water resistive barrier onto the CMU backup. I know, MVP sounds like “Most Valuable Player.” It’s just a coincidence.

These fluid-applied products are alternatives — some might say improvements — for other products that have application issues like overspray or being complicated and time-consuming.

So along with getting some video footage, while John had Shane on camera, he asked Shane how he liked using the MVP, FastFlash and Joint & Seam Filler. Boy did John get an earful!

I’ve long harped on how easy these products are to apply. I’ve used them myself on a window replacement at my own house, and NO ONE is less of a DIYer than me. But you don’t have to take my word for it, now. Here’s a field professional who has used our products AND the other companies’ products telling it like it is.

Shane Peden, Restoration & Waterproofing Contractors, Kansas City, backrolls spray-applied primary air & water barrier PROSOCO R-GUARD MVP onto CMU at Trail Ridge Middle School. Stephen Falls photo

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Notes from the job site

Seamless, continuous, durable, breathable primary air and water barrier: pink PROSOCO R-GUARD Spray Wrap coats the Densglass sheathing of the North Carolina State Bar Building in a 10-mil thick air-tight and water-resistive layer. Note the limestone cladding going up right and left. photo courtesy East Coast Restoration and Waterproofing

Swathed in pink, fluid-applied PROSOCO R-GUARD Spray Wrap Air and Water Barrier, this is the North Carolina State Bar Building in Raleigh.

This is not to be confused with the North Carolina Bar Association in Cary, N.C., the group that lobbies for and provides professional support to its members. This building will house the regulatory agency for the state’s legal profession.

The agency has run out of room in its current building, according to Executive Director Tom Lunsford, quoted in an article in the Triangle Business Journal, Raleigh, N.C.

CJMW Architects, Winston-Salem, have designed a building they and its owners hope will achieve LEED Gold certification. That’s perhaps one reason for the energy-saving PROSOCO R-GUARD Air & Water Barrier — but not necessarily the main reason, says installer Jim Sherrife, East Coast Restoration and Waterproofing, Concord, N.C.

This artist’s rendering, courtesy CJMW Architecture, Winston-Salem, N.C., shows how the the under-construction North Carolina State Bar Building, Raleigh, N.C., will look when complete. East Coast Restoration and Waterproofing, Concord, N.C., finished installing a custom R-GUARD air and water barrier on the building’s Densglass sheathing in October.

Ease of use in a confined area” was the main reason for choosing the R-GUARD system, Jim said.

Other fluid-applied primary air-barrier products being considered would’ve had to be sprayed on with powerful equipment to get a 90-120 mil thickness. In circumstances like that, overspray is a distinct possibility, Jim said.

“We would have had major problems,” Jim said. “We had parking and traffic just 50 feet from where we were working.”

Those heavier fluid-applied products could have been applied with rollers to prevent overspray, Jim said. But the multiple applications needed
to make 90-120 mils would have been too time-consuming.

So a custom PROSOCO R-GUARD system with R-GUARD Spray Wrap as the primary air & water barrier got the nod.

“Nothing complicated about it,” Jim said.

Jim and crew applied the Spray Wrap 10 mils thick with low-pressure sprayers and no danger of overspray. The water-resistive barrier is durable, continuous, seamless, and vapor-permeable. It can be exposed to sun, wind and rain for up to six months before the cladding goes up, in case of construction delay, as opposed to 30 days maximum for most other products.

Before the Spray Wrap could go on, seams, screwholes, wall-to-roof and foundation-to-wall transitions and rough openings had to be made water- and air-tight. Peel-and-sticks make this incredibly complicated, Jim said. Getting these features detailed correctly involves time-consuming priming, cutting and shaping. There’s plenty of chances for human error, any one of which can result in water getting into the building envelope.

When that happens, damage and lawsuits result. And it happens often, if the multi-billion dollar construction litigation industry is any clue — more than 70 percent of which is due to water intrusion, according to Architect Magazine.

Jim sealed these vulnerable points in the building envelope with breathable, waterproof R-GUARD products Joint & Seam Filler and FastFlash. The ease of installation compared to detailing with peel and stick membranes let him stay far ahead of the limestone and window installers, he said.

“We finished way ahead of schedule,” Jim said. “I wish we could use FastFlash on every air barrier job.”

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Dawn reflects in this newly installed window at the North Carolina State Bar Building in Raleigh, N.C. before the limestone cladding goes up. The pink coating on the Densglass sheathing is R-GUARD Spray Wrap primary air and water-resistive barrier. The rough opening for the window is sealed with waterproof FastFlash and Joint & Seam Filler. photo courtesy East Coast Restoration and Waterproofing

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Perfect for construction in storm-prone coastal areas, the FastFlash Air & Waterproof Barrier system is proving popular for Passive Houses and other ultra-energy efficient buildings.

When we introduced the PROSOCO R-GUARD FastFlash Air & Waterproof Barrier System, we knew a big market would be in coastal areas subject to tropical storms and hurricanes.

That’s because FastFlash is tested and proven to stop air and water leaks through building envelopes in conditions up to and exceeding Category 5 hurricanes. We even call the primary air and waterproof barrier component of the system “Cat 5.”

I’ve put out some feelers to see if there’s any information about how FastFlash products performed in the face of Super Storm Sandy and the following Nor’easter. I know Rutgers University is one place FastFlash is on duty.

For now though, I think we’re all more interested in seeing the effects of our prayers and Red Cross donations in that stricken area.

But along with storm-prone coastal areas, an interesting secondary market has emerged for the FastFlash system.

Ultra-energy efficiency
We’re seeing FastFlash increasingly selected for Passive Houses and other ultra-energy-efficient, super-green buildings. One recent Passive House project is the Karuna House in the Willamette Valley, Ore. A long-time enthusiastic advocate of green building is having the Karuna (means “compassionate” in Sanskrit) House constructed as a showcase for green-building.

The contractor, Hammer and Hand, Portland and Seattle sealed the plywood sheathing and rough openings with the FastFlash system. They like it because it’s so easy to use.

Aaron Quint, Hammer and Hand, seals a rough opening with gun and spread R-GUARD FastFlash at Karuna House.


The FastFlash system has also gone on the under-construction Bullitt Center in Seattle. The Bullitt Center is being constructed to an environmental standard beyond LEED Platinum. When certified, it will be a “Living Building,” having met the requirements of the Living Building Challenge — arguably the most stringent environmental standard on the planet.

We didn’t plan for or market to the ultra-energy-efficiency market, but getting specified for it is no surprise, either.

Paul Grahovac, our air barrier product group manager explained why the FastFlash system is a good fit for Passive Houses in a presentation to the 7th Annual North American Passive House Conference, in September.

Sam Hagerman of Hammer and Hand, and Florian Speier of Zola Windows, Boulder, Colo., joined Paul in the presentation. Zola Windows makes windows for Passive Houses, among their other offerings.

Their presentation showed how Passive Houses eliminate air leaks around windows — a common source of higher heating and cooling bills and wasted energy in traditional construction. Passive Houses, which operate on as little as 10 percent of a typical home’s energy costs, can ill-afford any energy-wasting air leaks.

You can read their full presentation abstract about The Science of Rough Opening Preparation and Window Installation to Minimize Air Leakage here.

Paul gathered some interesting facts for the presentation, which shed light on why Passive House builders are showing increasing interest in the FastFlash system.

Measuring airtightness
Air changes per hour (ACH), a measurement of airtightness you get from blower-door testing, are a big factor. That’s how you measure air leakgage, or lack of, in Passive Houses. Other buildings, too. We tested two window-installation mock-ups in our Design Verification Test Chamber. One mock-up used sheet wrap with peel and stick membrane. The other was our fluid-applied FastFlash system.

A window-installation mock-up using sheet wrap and peel and stick membrane gets tested for airtightness in PROSOCO’s Design Verification Test Chamber.

We cranked the air pressure to 50 Pascals, simulating a 20 mph wind. This test was similar to ASTM E2357, which reports the volume of air loss per square foot of mock-up wall. Since this test was done specifically for the Passive House conference, we did the math to convert the ASTM-type results to blower-door results in ACH50 (Air Changes Per Hour, 50 Pascals).

Perspective and results
Here’s a little perspective. To get an Energy Star rating, your blower door test must be within 6 ACH50 in Climate Zones One and Two, 5 ACH50 in Climate Zones Three and Four, 4 ACH50 in Climate Zones Five, Six and Seven, and 3 ACH50 in Climate Zone Eight. To be certified as a U.S. Passive House, the house must test within 0.6 ACH50.

Here’s the ASHRAE Climate Map, not that it matters — the sheet wrap and peel and stick membrane mock-up did not quite make any of the Energy Star levels. It tested at 7.01 ACH50

The FastFlash mock-up tested at 0.17 ACH50. That’s quite a bit below the airtightness standard required for Passive Houses.

We found this level of performance to be true in the field as well.

Hammer and Hand conducted a preliminary blower-door test on the Karuna House with some minor areas of the FastFlash system yet to be installed. They achieved 0.42 ACH50.

For fun, we cranked the air pressure in the chamber to Category 5 hurricane level. That’s 2,880 Pascals, equal to a 155 mph wind. Even under those conditions, the FastFlash fluid-applied mock-up delivered 0.53 ACH50.

Oops. We failed in trying to force an air leak through this FastFlash window installation mock-up. So did the glass, once the air pressure in the chamber got too high for it. The FastFlash products never did leak.

One time we raised the pressure so high in one of the chambers that we blew out the glass before we could get the FastFlash to leak air. But that’s another story.

Paul also cited some of the reasons designers and builders are moving away from fabric wraps and peel and stick membranes for detailing rough openings — backed up by Sam Hagerman from Hammer and Hand:

•Rotting of damp substrates behind vapor-impermeable barrier coverings
•Reverse lapping
•Tenting
•Tunneling
•Fishmouths
•Heat damage
•Adhesion failures
•Difficult, laborious work and human error
•UV damage

Every one of those items is a definite no-no for a Passive House, or any other building that strives for energy efficiency.

Paul, Sam and Florian finish off their case for FastFlash and Passive Houses with this info:

Installer experience
Physical actions required are pulling the handle on a caulk gun to lay down a bead of material, and spreading it with a piece of flat plastic. Even inexperienced workers are successful in their first attempts. Application speed and material conservation increase with experience.

I keep harping on how easy the system is. The fact is, I’ve installed it myself during a window replacement at my own house, and NO ONE is less of a DIYer than me. This cool video from our own movie producer John Young shows exactly how easy it is.

Material availability and durability
FastFlash products are available at hundreds of construction supply distributors across the country.

The service temperature of a leading peel-and-stick membrane is 158 degrees F with a maximum UV exposure of 30 days.

FastFlash products have been tested to 300 degrees F and may be exposed for up to six months. They do not rip or tear, and any gashes into them can quickly be repaired by re-coating.

Material and labor cost
Labor costs vary based on location and experience, but ease of application cuts installation time, thereby cutting labor cost. The FastFlash system can be applied to damp surfaces, unlike most if not all other air barrier products. This eliminates many weather-related construction delays. And the instantly waterproof system doesn’t have to be protected from rain while curing.

PROSOCO had to add a second shift during the recession to keep up with demand fueled in large part by contractors switching jobs to this system to lower their costs of doing business.

These are all reasons why the Passive House and ultra-energy-efficiency market is embracing FastFlash — and why other markets are too.
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