Zip System Wall Sheathing

Wall Sheathing with an Integrated Water Resistive Barrier

By Mark J. Donovan

Wall sheathing technology continues to make advances. Zip system wall sheathing is an alternative to water resistive barriers (WRB) such as Dupont’s Tyvek housewrap. With Zip system wall sheathing the water resistive barrier is an integral part of the sheathing, thus eliminating the need to wrap the house in a water resistive barrier after sheathing the home. By integrating the water resistive barrier into the sheathing, Zip system wall sheathing saves on material and labor costs.

Besides the costs savings, Zip system wall sheathing is also less susceptible to wind damage that can occur with a traditional housewrap water barrier that is stapled onto the exterior sheathing.

Zip System Wall Sheathing Cons

Zip system wall sheathing is constructed out of oriented strand board (OSB) and a protective water shield coating that is adhered to its outer surface. After fastening Zip system wall sheathing to the wall studs, the seams must be properly taped to create a complete water tight seal.

As with any type of OSB material, if water hits it, the OSB will begin to delaminate and swell. So it is important to keep Zip system wall sheathing dry prior to installation, and to seal the seams immediately after fastening it to the wall studs.

Zip system wall sheathing provides 90 days of Ultra Violet (UV) resistance, whereas Dupont advertises that its residential Tyvek housewrap provides 120 days of UV resistance. Consequently with Zip system wall sheathing it is important that it is covered sooner rather than later.

Zip system wall sheathing

If damaged during installation, Zip system wall sheathing is more difficult to repair. The damaged areas need to be cut out, replaced, and then re-taped.

Zip system wall sheathing provides a lower permeability factor, thus if moisture gets trapped behind it, it takes longer for it to dry out. In addition, condensation can form. If either of these conditions occurs the OSB could begin to swell and delaminate.

Though there are a few cons with Zip system wall sheathing they can be mitigated with proper installation and use. Consequently Zip system wall sheathing, in my opinion, will continue to grow in popularity as it saves on construction costs and time.

For more help on building a home addition, see’s Home Addition Bid Sheets. Our Home Addition Bid Sheets provide you with the knowledge and information on how to plan a home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors. They also include detailed cost breakdown tables and spreadsheets for estimating your own new home construction building costs.

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