All about House Wraps

If that winter chill is coming through your walls, start looking at house wraps!  This extra step helps to insulate homes across the country, contributing to greater energy efficiency.  Although they’re not the easiest element to install, it’s no problem for our professional team!  When choosing the right house wrap—with the help of our installers—here’s what you need to pay attention to:

Perm Ratings

View of new house construction with focus on vapor barrier strip used to ensure proper moisture seal.

Short for permeance rating, this number assigned to each house wrap has to do with moisture.  Apart from blocking excess wind, this additional layer can prevent water vapor from passing through.  Those with higher perm ratings allow water to escape faster.  Think about how important this is in older homes—or even new homes with poorer insulation.  If the house wrap doesn’t allow the water to move through fast enough, then you could have condensation or even frost clinging to the material.  (In between your walls and siding!)  For this reason, we usually recommend avoiding wraps with a really low perm rating.  Although they tend to be cheaper, they can become problematic later on.  Still, we look at more than this number when deciding upon the right house wrap.


Typically, the term house wraps applies to describe newer, plastic varieties made from woven polypropylene fibers.  (Although they do have many nonwoven options.)  They tend to be thinner, less expensive, and potentially perforated to allow for better movement of water.  Prior to this, tar paper—also known as asphalt felt—was commonly used for the same purpose.  Much as it goes under roofs to act as an additional barrier underneath shingles, it can do the same with siding.  We can even apply a tar-like liquid water-resistant barrier, if you’d prefer. The installation is closer to adding a layer of paint, but it could be sufficient in some situations.  Then, we have rigid foam and sheathing available too. Frequently, we try to match the house wrap material to the type of siding we’re working with.


Some materials just work better than others!  As siding experts, we understand the strengths and limitations of the options available today.  Therefore, we try to match siding with house wraps that address any potential issues. For example, stucco is usually combined with a thicker nonwoven plastic or even asphalt-impregnated building paper that absorbs less water.  This helps to reduce cracks down the road, since it won’t expand or contract as much. Under vinyl siding, a smoother wrap is appropriate because there are already drainage holes present.  You just want something that provides an additional barrier and encourages easy drainage.  We’ll work with you to determine which siding you’d prefer, then suggest the best house wrap from there.


Ultimately, whatever type you choose, the key element is the installation itself.  You could have the best house wrap possible, and a poor installation would make it completely ineffective.  Fortunately, with Schaefer Exteriors, that’s not something you need to worry about!  We can handle every aspect of your home exterior with expertise, to give you a long-lasting, energy efficient siding.  Call us today to get started!

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