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Home Slicker Instant Rainscreen House Wrap

by Chad Ludeman on February 25, 2009 · 43 comments

in Building Science,envelope

After deciding to go with James Hardie Vertical siding, it took us some time to determine exactly how the best way to apply it to our SIPs house would be. The main questions was whether or not to employ a vented rainscreen or not.

A vented rainscreen is basically an air gap in between the cladding and the water resistive barrier (WRB) applied to the sheathing of a house. It is vented at the top and bottom of the cladding on the home. This vented gap, allows any water that penetrates the cladding to freely drain down the WRB and away from the house. It also allows extra circulation during the summer months that helps to keep the house naturally cooler. For the best explanation and step by step detailing on vented rainscreens, check out this post on the BUILD blog.

A rainscreen is often used in commercial applications, but not quite as often in residential. It is widely recognized as the most effective method for preventing moisture issues in modern homes and is even required in more strict locations such as Canada and parts of Europe. It is not a requirement for LEED to use a rainscreen in our area, but if we wanted to go the extra mile if we could accomplish it.

At first we were perplexed that James Hardie actually seems to discourage the use of a rainscreen in the US, while they do offer instructions in Canada and Europe for its implementation. A couple calls to their headquarters turned up instructions that would not void the warranty of their product. In fact Hardie gave us two documents that I could not find anywhere on the web. Both are invaluable if installing their product over SIPs. I’ve linked them below for your viewing pleasure. Hopefully they can help alleviate someone else’s stress who might be in the same situation we were in.

Hardie SIPs Installation Instructions (pdf)
Hardie Rainscreen Application Instructions (pdf)

Now for the actual subject of this post, Home Slicker. I actually found Home Slicker at my previous job through a collegue that used to work for the local company, Benjamin Obdyke, that manufactures the product. The product is basically a corrugated mesh that comes in roll form and is installed just like a typical house wrap. There is no tedious grid assembly required with furring strips to create the rainscreen. Simply staple up and go. Below is a top view of the installed product in between the cladding and the house.

While this product costs almost as much as our actual Hardie siding, it saves quite a bit of labor and simplifies the installation of the actual siding over top of it. We can simply use nails or screws directly into our SIPs as if we were installing directly over the walls with no rainscreen. The product also comes in a version that has a Typar WRB attached to the back of it which would cut our labor for waterproofing future homes in half.

If you are considering a rainscreen on your next home, and we think you should, then take a good look at this Home Slicker product. You won’t be dissapointed.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 4 trackbacks }

100k Construction Update: Drywall, Siding and More | 100K House Blog
March 19, 2009 at 8:43 am
Benjamin Obdyke | Build Better
November 1, 2009 at 10:17 pm
Siding comparisons: Stone, brick, wood, stucco, hardie plank, aluminum, and vinyl « The Build
June 12, 2010 at 11:52 am
Fiber Cement Panel Screen Printing on the Skinny Project
October 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 darin February 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Great information guys!

2 Angelo February 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Chad,
Nice to see you guys using this product! We debated using it over our SIPs, but considering our annual rainfall is so low (and moisture not being an issue), didn’t end up using it.

How are you dealing the terminations around openings? Do your windows and doors stick out enough to run the siding into them, or do you need some sort of return? Are you having any issues with fasteners “pulling in or out” the siding at some locations?

Thanks,
Angelo

3 Kevin D February 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Watch the siding guys like a hawk.

The Home Slicker might cause slight depressions at each fastener. Screws might be better because they can be backed off if overdriven.

The installers will prefer nails/nail guns, of course, for speed. I guess you’ll have exposed fasteners. They may look fine on the grey panels, not so hot on the black.
Stainless fasteners will prevent any staining from the fasteners.

I would use ring shank nails to make sure they never pull out even slightly. I think most SIP suppliers say that for any siding.

Other than that, I love this combination of materials, good building science at work, and it’ll last forever without painting!

4 chad February 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Angelo – Thanks. Our windows and doors do stick out far enough for us to simply but our siding up against without any flashing or return. The fasteners spec’ed by Hardie were hard to find, but have been working great so far.

Kevin – We are using the screws the Hardie specs in the SIPs installation document linked in the post. They are Wafer Head Screws (#8 x 1-5/8″ Long x 0.375″ Head Ribbed Wafer Head Screws). The heads are black and look great on the panels. You can obviously see them up close, but from a distance they are barely noticeable and they sit flush in the panels.

5 Rob February 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

Great info. I am glad to hear that you are using a rain screen. It is definitly an up front cost, but it should extend the life of your siding and SIPS.

Some will argue that we are in a cold climate, which we are, and that we dont need a rain screen. Perhaps this could be true farther north, here however we get enough rain and humidity to more than justify the expense of a rain screen.

Will you be back priming the siding? Is that even required with the Hardy siding?

6 chad February 27, 2009 at 11:47 am

Rob – We won’t be back priming. It is not required and thus would be quite a bit of overkill. Think of these panels as slim sections of concrete. No need to prime. Even if they get wet, with the rainscreen they will quickly dry…

7 Rob February 27, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Good to know. Yet another reason to use Hardy, less painting!

8 eikoh February 27, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Any concern of seeing the bright yellow between the reveals/gaps?

9 eikoh February 27, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Oh shoot, I’m a dummy. I see that you have vertical black strips of something, and it looks like you have Z-flashing of some kind at the horizontal seams. Can you share what the black strips are and the horizontal seam detail?

10 chad February 28, 2009 at 11:32 am

The black strips are simply 4″ wide strips of the same felt paper we used for the WRB. We bent Z-flashing on site with a light grey aluminum stock. When we are done installing we will caulk the vertical joints with a matching grey caulk.

11 dumbroski March 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm

i hope that it works well for you taking this x-tra precaution.i would like to say not to dampin your spirits im definatley impressed with the high level of workmanship going into your project but with the cost of the screen ontop of t-vek which in its own right should be the barrier you use and should be sufficient against water vapor.my feeling would be these expensive”band-aids” seems a bit much to protect a a product that on the back-side has a porous face.its not always the level of water or how long the product is under water. think of a sponge that repeatly goes from dry to wet. it will eventually crack. now do the samething with a much harder material that is a 4ply laminate with a porous back. for the cost in labor and material i dont see a bonus but i do feel that you will have a much longer life to your siding and this all very well could be the solution to this siding. i would like to see a more cost effective solution and with your example i think it is a step in the right direction

12 chad March 7, 2009 at 12:48 pm

dumbroski – I think you might be confused about the rain screen system since you are calling it a “band-aid.” There is nothing band-aid-like about it. It’s simply the best and most robust way to build an exterior wall assembly in this and many other climates that receive a decent amount of rain.

We are not installing the screen because the house wrap, which is 15# felt paper BTW, is not sufficient to keep the house dry. Also, an extra $1 psf in material cost to bring our total cladding material cost to a whopping $2 psf is not expensive in my book. Next time, we will use the Typar and Homeslicker in one product that will cut the extra labor we induced this time around completely out.

13 dumbroski March 8, 2009 at 11:33 am

i was refering it to a band-aid just in the fact it seems to be necessary to go above normal standards to keep james hardie siding from deteriorating. i spent three years in james hardie warranty division and have watched over the years new products being implemented to some how extend the life of a product that they boast will last 50years.like i said before i believe you are going about it the right way and look forward to seeing this work for you

14 Jo March 13, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Just to go back to the question someone posed as to depth of windows & doors not being a problem when this extra layer was added thereby increasing the wall thickness- Did you originally have to allow for extension jambs or were the standard size jambs capable of accommodating the rainscreen (including interior finishes)?

15 Bill Vojtech March 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I looked on the internet for info on rainscreens. All the installations I found used a metal grid made of what looks like the stuff you use to support sheetrock walls and it leaves about an inch of space between the siding and the building. Is there an advantage to one or the other method in terms of cost or thermal gain in the summer? The grid installs claim the inch of space promotes cooling air flow and the siding reflects the heat from the sun.

16 Luke Vivier March 20, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Loving the Typar/Homeslicker combo. Sounds like a huge labour-saver. In my area (BC, Canada) rainscreen is required for most construction and the typical cavity detail consists of 12mm treated lumber or cementitious vertical strapping, 450-600mm OC.

Good decision to use rainscreen. The scary consequences of moisture damage in poorly-detailed wood buildings is all too well known around these parts.

17 Greg March 20, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Great blog on rainscreens.

18 Michael Tauber March 23, 2009 at 2:47 pm

My understanding of a rainscreen system is it is an “open” system. In the open system at the joints between the cladding one creates an air chamber that prevents pressure differential between inside and outside of the finish thereby reducing the entrance of moisture into the building. If I understand your assembly you are sealing the vertical joints and providing Z flashing at the horizontal joints which would not effectively achieve the pressure equilization chamber. Is this what you are doing?
Secondly, If you are fastening the Hardipanel through the water barrier, what is preventing the entrance of moisture through capillary action along the penetration of the fastener? I have seen these types of installations where a Self adhering sheet membrane such as Grace Ultra is used as the waterproof membrane behind the cladding system. This is self healing and will tighten up around the fastener. Alternatively use of a neoprene washer at the fasteners will essentially do the same thing.
How does your assembly prevent water infiltration at the fasteners?
Great looking project and thanks for putting this blog together.

19 Tom Arlington April 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Rain screens are a the only way that siding should be installed. This is just too much new data out there that proves that direct contact siding traps moisture. The new IRC wrb 703.1 code states to “Provide a means of drainage behind siding” The Home slicker rain screen can crush easily and distort the siding when fastened. I would use a new steel furring strip called furring master.
It will not crush like the yellow stuff. It is fire proof and will not trap moisture behind the steel furring strip because it has a hollow back to drain out the moisture. It achieves a straighter looking wall. Plus is less expensive than the home slicker. Why would you spend more money on a rain screen product that can distort the siding. It just doesn’t make sense. See the link below

http://www.sidingmaster.com/Furring-Master.htm

20 chad April 9, 2009 at 1:34 pm

You’re the man Tom. Sending this to ISA to look into right away. This could solve some of our structural concerns with using an inch of rigid over the SIPs.

It is hard to attach cladding and stucco through an inch of rigid and an additional rainscreen gap. This could be the final answer to all of our permanent rain screen design. If so, we owe you 2-4 beers.

21 Ken Hudson April 21, 2009 at 12:44 am

I recently purchased Home Slicker for my SIPs and Hardie board project and was wondering if you ended up using furring strips in addition to the yellow rainscreen. One photo on the site shows the hardie panels being installed over the rainscreen but with some type of black strips under it. Can you elaborate?

22 chad April 21, 2009 at 9:20 am

Ken,

We did not use furring strips in addition. The black strips you are seeing are simply strips of tar paper that we put under the vertical seams so that when we went to caulk these seams, the caulk would not soak into the Home Slicker.

23 Ken Hudson April 22, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Did you have any problem keeping the panels flush? Also did you use neoprene washers around the screws? The finished product looks great!

24 Les Schaub April 24, 2009 at 11:19 am

Interesting discussion on rain screens and Home Slicker. I live in western Colorado at 7000′. Rot is not a large problem here, as the average rain fall is low (the water mostly comes in solid form), and average humidity is very low. Home Slicker was supplied with my timber frame/sips package last year. The siding is CVG WRC, which I applied one coat stain to the back, and two coat to the face before installing. I asked around for opinions on the Home Slicker and couldn’t find anyone who had even heard of it.
The idea of a rain screen, or to me, a more accurate description would be breather space sounds good, but I had serious reservations. Others here have mentioned a possible waviness from nailing over the Home Slciker. That is probably more of an issue with Hardie Plank type siding than cedar clabboards, but I was very concerned with the compressability of the product causing nail pops down the road. Remember, the siding is only being nailed to 7/16″ OSB (the outer layer of the SIPs). While the ring shank stainless steel nails were really great I was very worried that adding a compressable layer between the siding and the nail base would cause problems.
Back in the dark days of building technology, the late 1970′s, SOP around here was to use plywood sheathing at the corners and fill between with celotex fiberboard crap. The siding was usually then hand nailed with 8d hot dipped galvies into studs. Very, very often nails would work out after a year or two where nailed thru the fiberboard, which is not as compressable as Home Slicker.
This situatiion may be made worse by local conditions. As I stated before rot is not a big issue here, extreme temperature swings are.
-20 to -30 F for lows to 90s high is the range over the course of a year. (Well, the lows are not getting that low anymore which is greatly adding to the pine beetle problem, but that is another issue completely).
Bottom line- I did not use the Home Slicker and have about 16 rolls of it I would love to see someone else use. Contact me for a great deal.
BTW, the house achieved a 5 STAR + rating from Energy Star.

25 Tyler May 1, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Have you ever heard of a product called Sure Cavity by MTI? It looks a more rigid drainage product that doesn’t compress as easily as Home Slicker. Less worry about waviness than with furring strips too because of consistent coverage. They have a quick video about it http://www.mtidry.com/products/videos.php. Because it is rigid it also prevents nail drive through they claim. They have a fair amount of testing posted online.

I also see they’re used in a couple of LEED projects. I’m not 100% familiar with LEED but it might that the Sure Cavity is used because it is a recycled plastic. Does LEED provide credits for using a rainscreen drainage plane? It would seem to improve sustainability.

26 Keith July 16, 2009 at 5:43 am

I saw some rain screen doing a great job. I work for a house waterproofing company and I can see how it helps avoid problems with concrete cancer and water. It really helps in basement waterproofing and such problems. They help you save money and time. I’m going to have them on my house. It’s worth to totally rebuild walls, it surely pays off.

27 chris stand January 25, 2010 at 10:01 am

Chad,
In post #20 you make reference to what seems to be the addition of an extra 1″ of foam on the outside of your SIPs. Is this correct ?

Did you/would you have wrapped the outside of the SIPs first with a tyvek-type product and then install the foam or put the foam against the SIPs and then apply a housewrap and then the rainscreen ?

28 Robert Moore February 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Anyone looking for drainage/rainscreen products should check out http://www.stucoflex.com
Their mats are called Waterway. High compressive strength, installed with staples, and have fabrics so more ideal for stone and stucco than MTI and Homeslicker.

29 Greg April 8, 2010 at 11:59 am

Below is a link to the most affordable and best rain screen option on the market today. Strong 22 gauge G-90 galvanized strips that comes in 8, 9, 10 and 12 foot lengths.

This system is far superior to other rain screen products because it will not crush like expensive mesh screens and cause wavy walls and open gaps at the laps for moisture and insect infiltration, It cannot crack like plastic battens in cold weather, it will not expand and contract like plastic materials and wood strips, the steel strips straighten out the walls because the strips are straight and strong and can easily be shimmed for imperfections in a wall before any siding goes up , attachment strength is increased because of fastener going through the steel strip, hollow back construction allows full wall air flow and ventilation, will not burn, rot, twist, bow, absorb moisture or trap moisture.

It also makes it very easy to align with studs and only builds the wall out 1/4″ which saves money on building out of opening’s.

Overall this system gives you the most features for the best price. The steel strips only run about $35 per square verses many of these other types of rain screen products that can range in cost of $55-$80 per square. Why would you pay more for these other rain screen products and get less? In this economy people are looking for the best value. Furring-Master gives you just that in a rain screen system.

http://www.sidingmaster.com/Furring-Master.htm
402-686-4257

30 steve m May 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Chad,

Thank you for documenting your design decisions so thoroughly, your blog has been a great resource for us! One question about air infiltration: Isn’t your man in the photo stapling the Home Slicker Mesh over the Typar, putting hundreds of little holes in your air and water barrier?

Thanks again!

31 Kris December 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

Great to see so much discussion about rainscreen. Rainscreen is excellent for behind all types of siding. It helps painted wood siding need repainting less frequently and other benefits. I wish we had rainscreen behind our vinyl siding on our current house because I know we have moisture problems behind it. The house we are building has the Furring Master rainscreen and we will use the SureCavity behind the stone areas.

I worry about that the product you used and some others on the market have too great a potential to get “crushed” or flattened between the building and the siding and over time will not perform as well. It will be interesting to see over the life of the building.

32 Chris Stand December 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Kris,

Even if product “X” were to degrade somewhat as long as the homeowner did not go around the house and tap on the nails there would be no additional force trying to move the siding (or whatever) closer to the wrap/insulation thus leaving the gap that was created on day 1 still in place one day 3650+.

Yes, there may be some bowing of exterior material that might attempt to force the material closer to wrap/insulation but that would have to be some weird bowing to occur between vertical products.

If you are in an area where small amounts of product degradation are critical you probably have made multiple layers of protection part of the construction.

33 John Berg December 16, 2010 at 11:29 am

Hello Chad,
I am in the process of specifying Hardie panels as a rain screen cladding material for a residential project. My interaction with Hardie has been less than satisfactory. The company has all of the rain screen details but there is not a huge degree of confidence on the part of the technical staff when I speak to them about using Hardie panel for a rain screen application. The 100K house is now several years old. How do the panels look today? is there any cracking at the corners?

Thanks

34 Chris Stand December 17, 2010 at 8:35 am

John,

If you are asking about Hardie because you are concerned about their warranty for your customer – take a good read on it and if in doubt get it in writing from a Hardie rep, preferably one who has seen what you want to do.

They have a pretty specific set of requirements for a reason and if you are providing this to a customer you probably want to make sure you are providing the customer with a legal leg to stand on if customer has issues 2 to 5 years down the road. Personally I think the ability to drain and dry moisture from behind a wall should make any manufacturer happy as long as the material is attached satisfactorily and with appropriate flashing. But an external blemish could easily be blamed on hammering too hard and customer would likely not be able to afford legal remedies.

I plan on doing Hardie on my own house next but I may choose to do DOW SIS panels and stucco instead because of concern of Hardie “getting with the program” ( and I am a Hardie trained installer ).

35 Bill Vojtech December 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

What about corrugated metal panels for siding?

36 Chad Ludeman December 17, 2010 at 11:32 am

Hi Guys. I can assure you a proper rainscreen detail will only improve the longevity of Hardie or similar products. The 100K is holding up great with no adverse signs of wear.

I will say that we have since switched to Certainteed siding for a number of reasons. They have a slightly more durable panel according to our research which is due to a higher recycled content of fly ash as well, which is nice. They seem to have more flexible installation instructions also due to the durability of their panel. Lastly, the primed panel from Certainteed looks like concrete and lends itself to clear coating while the primed Hardie panel is green.

Hopefully this helps a bit and best of luck with your projects.

37 Asad November 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Great Blog on the Home Slicker. Looking to install this under hardie panels full 4×8 sheets. How do you keep the slicker from compressing or crushing as you applied your panels?

38 Brandon April 5, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Asad,
The most important aspect of keeping the HS from compressing is monitoring the tools you are using to install the cladding. It should not be installed with the framing gun that just got done blowing nails into the sheathing. Turning the pressure down on a siding gun, using hand drives or screws are all good ways to assure the constistency. You may notice also that Hardie is one of the only FiberCement mfg’s that is a little nervous about drainage “mats”. They produce a very pliable product that can “wave” at times, with or without a mat.
There was a comment a few up from Siding Master Steel Furring Strips about the cost savings in material. While this is very true, one of the big values of HomeSlicker is the installation cost savings. You don’t have to cut a bunch of pcs and align them over stud faces. No special blades required to cut steel. Roll it out and staple it up.
Also, the point loads of nails are distributed throughout the screen absorbing the pressure. If you poke HS with your finger in one spot, it will compress. If you lie your whole hand on it and press down, it will not.
Regardless of the products being used, creating a gap for drainage and drying is the most important thing. For rainy climates, humid climates, high condensation climates and for the general durability of the wall assembly. Wood, FiberCement and Stucco all absorb and release moisture, creating a space for that moisture to go is the key.
Happy Building!

39 Greg Albracht April 6, 2013 at 8:31 am

Here is the new Aluminum Furringmaster 2 it’s even more affordable
Regarding Brandon’s comments about my
Furring Master
First of all I want to mention what Brandon is not telling you and that is
James Hardie no longer warrants their siding if used with drainage Matt’s
That includes HomeSlicker and Dci and all the others

Mine takes less time then the home slicker because of all the time it takes to roll out the homeslicker with Two people and all the added penetrations going into the wall .
With my Furringmaster you will still get a warranty on the siding with homeslicker you will not!

New Aluminum Furring master 2
https://sites.google.com/site/gorillagutterguard/our-products/furring-master-rain-screen-system

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