Home Air Barrier: Durability, Energy & Comfort (Explained)



Since the 1970s, building scientists have discovered a great deal about home air barriers. They now understand that air barriers are crucial to a home’s durability, the energy needed to heat and cool it, and the comfort of its residents.

A home’s air barrier should continuously encompass the entire building envelope because the barrier separates the inside and outside air, along with air pressure.

Common Materials Used to Create an Air Barrier

– Housewrap to create an exterior air barrier (Tyvek is popular) – Polyethylene as an internal air barrier – Exterior sheathing for an external air barrier (Zip sheathing is the leading manufacturer)

Interior Air Barriers (Challenging to Install)

A home will have more moisture inside during winter in cold climates than outdoors. Since heat moves from hot to cold, warm moisture-rich air will move into the wall cavity on its way outdoors.

Exterior Air Barriers (Remember Moisture)

Installing continously is much easier on the exterior of a home. Although, there are still challenges, such as where the exterior wall meets the roof framing.

The Solution: Use Both

In theory, you only need one  air barrier; installing two  makes sense. Two air barriers  are common in Europe (where they’re ahead of the U.S. regarding home energy efficiency).

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