In the ever-evolving world of construction, building professionals must strike the right balance between beautiful design, resilience, comfort and sustainability of a building. When it comes to the building envelope, this requires a deep understanding of air and vapor barriers and the critical role they play in the longevity and energy efficiency of buildings.

The use of air barriers in commercial construction is growing, driven by advances in building codes and increased awareness of their ability to support sustainable, comfortable buildings. However, not all air barriers are equal in performance or design, and there is not one solution suitable for all climates, regions and project conditions.

What is an air barrier?

According to the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA), an air barrier is a system of assemblies within the building enclosure—designed, installed and integrated in such a manner as to stop the uncontrolled flow of air into and out of the enclosure. Since an air barrier isolates the indoor environment, it plays a major role in the overall energy efficiency, comfort, and IAQ of a building.

One potential option for air barrier assemblies involves using building wraps and other weather-resistant components to guard against airflow without preventing moisture escape. As part of the air barrier assembly, a building wrap can reduce drafts, increase occupant comfort and reduce energy use. In fact, according to the Department of Energy and ENERGY STAR®, continuous air barriers such as TYPAR building wraps could reduce energy costs as much as 15% to 20%.

What really matters for air barrier materials?

As the primary boundary between indoor and outdoor air, the air barrier assembly will be subjected to constant air movement, water, ultraviolet light and surfactant chemicals present in certain cladding materials and cleaning agents. Any one of these elements could potentially cause materials to break down over time, jeopardizing the barrier’s effectiveness.

This is where TYPAR’s weather protection products come in. With integrated UV inhibitors, spunbonded polypropylene construction that offers industry-leading tear strength and a microporous coating for optimal breathability, TYPAR building wraps have been tested to perform in the harshest conditions. For commercial applications, TYPAR MetroWrap™ and TYPAR DrainableWrap™ Commercial have been evaluated by ABAA for approval of air barrier materials, components, and assemblies under the category of mechanically fastened commercial building wraps. ABAA evaluations establish that the products passed the organization’s air leakage standards when tested in accordance with ASTM E 2357 Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage of Air Barrier Assemblies.

It was TYPAR’s performance characteristics that led custom homebuilder DeLuca Construction to install the complete TYPAR Weather Protection System on a four-story, 7,500-square-foot home. When weighing the performance of the TYPAR Weather Protection System against that of an all-in-one sheathing system, the homebuilder said it was TYPAR’s permeability that sealed the deal. Because the home is clad in brick and fiber cement—both of which are considered “reservoir” cladding because they can hold water—a building wrap with superior moisture management properties was required.

A “sweet spot” of 10-20 perms is ideal for achieving the desired balance of moisture protection and breathability. TYPAR Building Wrap fits squarely into that range with a perm rating of 11.7, meaning water is prevented from entering the wall cavity but moisture vapor is still allowed to escape.

Specifying air barrier systems for commercial construction

The importance of comprehensive weather protection is growing in commercial construction. TYPAR is committed to continued innovation to serve the needs of commercial architects, specifiers, developers, contractors and building owners with a growing line of building wraps engineered for optimal performance on commercial projects. Our new commercial guide is a good resource for finding the right solution for your next project.

As a building professional, your choices impact the quality and resilience of the buildings you design. In the realm of air and vapor barriers, TYPAR stands as a trusted partner, offering innovative solutions that elevate construction projects to new heights of efficiency and sustainability. Prioritizing TYPAR air barrier products in your project planning could be the key to a successful, long-lasting and energy-efficient building. Learn more about our products at TYPAR.com and inquire today to take your projects to the next level.