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Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA)

The Center of Excellence for the Air Barrier Industry

Water-Resistive Barriers

What is a Water-Resistive Barrier?

A water resistive barrier is a thin membrane, typically 5 to 15 mils thick (.005 to 0.015 in. or 0.13 to .38 mm) which is intended to resist liquid water that has penetrated behind the exterior cladding.

Function of a Water Resistive Barrier

A properly installed water resistive barrier (which includes proper flashing over doors and windows, continuity at seams, and sealing around penetrations) will improve the overall moisture efficiency and performance of the home or building’s wall system by providing a secondary moisture drainage plane. Water resistive barriers resist bulk water penetration and wind-driven rain that penetrates the exterior cladding from intruding into the wall assembly. Water will be channeled down the outside surface of the water resistive barrier, thus reducing the potential for condensation build-up in the wall assembly which reduces the likelihood of moisture problems, rot and degradation.

Water-resistive barriers come in a variety of widths and lengths as well as a variety of materials. These materials consist of polymeric-based sheets (plastic) and can include spun-bonded (fibers), cross-woven (tapes), film (sheets) or a combination thereof.

A water resistive barrier is different than Grade D building paper (paper-based). Most commercially available polymeric-based water-resistive barriers are highly moisture-resistant and therefore, do not absorb water like typical Grade D or felt building papers. Polymeric water-resistive barrier are typically stronger than Grade D or felt building papers, thus they tend to have better durability than conventional building papers.

Water-Resistive Barrier Test Requirements for ABAA Listing

Water-resistive barrier materials have product-specific test properties that they have to test to including dry tensile strength or dry breaking force, pliability and water resistance ensuring they will meet the needed requirements during their service life. The link below to the ABAA Process for Approval will outline those test properties further. Please see the test results below for ASTM E96 values.

For a water-resistive barrier material to be listed on the ABAA website, the manufacturer shall complete the evaluation criteria process outlined in the ABAA Process for Approval of Water-Resistive Barriers (WRBs) document. Once a manufacturer has demonstrated to ABAA that their material meets the established criteria and has completed the process of submitting test reports and supporting documents for their material, they will be listed in the table below as a "ABAA Evaluated Water-Resistive Barrier" and included in the appropriate ABAA Master Specification.

ABAA Evaluated Water-Resistive Barriers

Water-Resistive Barriers
Manufacturer Material Name ABAA Model Specification
Benjamin Obdyke, Inc.
www.benjaminobdyke.com
HydroGap Drainable Housewrap Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
921 ng / Pa•s•m2 [16.11 US Perms]
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - water method):
808 ng / Pa•s•m2 [14.13 US Perms]
Cosella-Dörken Products Inc.
www.cosella-dorken.com
Delta Maxx Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
801 ng / Pa•s•m2 [14.0 US Perms]
Cosella-Dörken Products Inc.
www.cosella-dorken.com
Delta Vent S Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
3941 ng / Pa•s•m2 [68.9 US Perms]
DuPont Building Innovations
www.weatherization.tyvek.com
Tyvek® CommercialWrap® Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
1446 ng / Pa•s•m2 [25.31 US Perms]
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - water method):
1867 ng / Pa•s•m2 [32.68 US Perms]
DuPont Building Innovations
www.weatherization.tyvek.com
Tyvek® CommercialWrap® D Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
2437 ng / Pa•s•m2 [42.65 US Perms]
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - water method):
2427 ng / Pa•s•m2 [42.48 US Perms]
Kingspan Insulation LLC
www.kingspaninsulation.com
Kingspan GreenGuard ® C2000 Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
5377 ng / Pa•s•m2 [94 US Perms]
Kingspan Insulation LLC
www.kingspaninsulation.com
Kingspan Greenguard ® Classic Wrap Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
669 ng / Pa•s•m2 [11.7 US Perms]
Kingspan Insulation LLC
www.kingspaninsulation.com
Kingspan GreenGuard ® Max Building Wrap Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
773 ng / Pa•s•m2 [13.52 US Perms]
Kingspan Insulation LLC
www.kingspaninsulation.com
Kingspan GreenGuard ® RainDrop Building Wrap Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
705 ng / Pa•s•m2 [12.33 US Perms]
Kingspan Insulation LLC
www.kingspaninsulation.com
Kingspan GreenGuard ® Value Wrap Section 072707
Water Vapor Permeance (ASTM E96 - desiccant method):
692 ng / Pa•s•m2 [12.1 US Perms]

Why Is It Important for Walls To Breathe?

Water resistive barriers are typically vapor permeable, which is generally desirable because it allows for drying of any moisture that accumulates in the wall assembly. Water resistive barriers are manufactured in a range of permeance levels, which allow for a wide range of selection to accommodate various wall designs.

Can You Use Water-Resistive Barriers Under Any Exterior Façade?

Water resistive barriers can be used under most exterior cladding materials. In fact, the International Building, Residential and Energy Codes require the use of water-resistive barriers or felt building paper in exterior walls. There are special requirements for some cladding applications or systems which requires more than one layer of a water resistive barrier. See cladding manufacturers for more information.

How do I Install a Water Resistive Barrier Properly?

A water-resistive barrier should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instruction, consult manufacturer's literature for further details.

Typically a modified "I" pattern is cut in the water resistive barriers at window openings and the excess material is folded inside the rough opening and attached to a framing member prior to a window being installed. The entire building or dwelling should be wrapped, including corners and gable end walls. Building codes require that all vertical and horizontal seams be overlapped a minimum of six and two inches respectively in a shingle application. Taping of water resistive barrier seams can provide additional protection against moisture intrusion while maintaining durability. However, since taping of seams is not a building code requirement, it is typically considered optional and a good building practice.

Refer to ASTM E 2112 or the ABAA Water-Resistive Barriers Installation Guide (Coming Soon)

The ABAA Water-Resistive Barriers Committee has produced two videos to assist building officials, design professionals and installers when using water resistive barriers in buildings or dwellings. The technical video presentation covers the properties of the material and the installation video covers key installation criteria.

Click here to view the videos.