Starting next week, ARCHITRENDS is launching a three-part series on building better walls, thanks to a big assist from the Building Science Corporation (BSC) – a consulting and full-service architecture firm for commercial, institutional and residential buildings. An internationally recognized organization, BSC’s focus is preventing and resolving problems related to building design, construction and operation. Probably best known for their expertise in moisture dynamics, indoor air quality and forensic investigations into building failure, BSC advocates for sustainable design, energy efficiency and environmental responsibility in building technology. Their website www.Buildingscience.com is a free online resource.
Better Walls for Buildings
The perfect wall is an environmental separator—it must keep the outside out and the inside in. Therefore, in a world of perfects walls, a wall assembly must control rain, air, vapor and heat. Functional, resilient walls need four principal control layers:
- moisture control layer
- air control layer
- vapor control layer
- thermal control layer
As BSC points out, if you can’t keep the rain out, don’t waste your time on the air. If you can’t keep the air out, don’t waste your time on the vapor and forget about thermal. The perfect wall includes a water control layer, with an air control layer and vapor control layer positioned directly on the structure, and a thermal control layer covering the other control layers.
Expansion, contraction, corrosion, decay, ultra violet radiation (basically, most bad things!) are all functions of variations in temperature. So, control layers need to go on the outside to help the structure weather temperature extremes and protect it from water in its various forms, as well as ultra violet radiation.
The “clever” wall, as BSC calls it, uses building material that combines all four controls. Thus, air moisture barrier systems (AMBs) and exterior insulation finish systems (EIFS). The most “clever” walls utilize integrated, stand-alone systems that can work together to form a waterproof air barrier for all types of vertical, above-grade wall surfaces, engineered for fast, easy application. (Example: StoGuard) These continuous-insulation (ci) wall systems can provide superior air and weather tightness, long-lasting thermal performance, durability and are available in a wide range of decorative and protective finishes.
Look for PART ONE in our series next week; it will focus on Moisture Control.