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What is the ZIP System Building Enclosure?

For each project a builder undertakes, careful consideration goes into the materials used to get the job done. From framing materials to doors and windows, choosing the right products can make a difference in the final product. More and more often, new technologies are being introduced to the market that allow builders to make different decisions about their building processes. Recently we’ve seen a trend toward the use of Huber’s ZIP System to serve as both a sheathing material and weather-resistant barrier for new builds. Today, we take a look at what is the ZIP System building enclosure, as well as its pros and cons.

What is the ZIP System?

ZIP System was designed to help streamline the construction process by combining both the sheathing and weatherproofing steps. OSB boards are coated with a phenolic-impregnated polymer-modified material that embeds the weatherization needs of a builder into the boards, eliminating, in theory at least, the need for a home wrap material. The boards are then sealed with a specialized, durable acrylic flashing tape to prevent water entry at any seams or fastening points. Alternatively, builders can utilize Huber’s liquid flashing product to caulk each seam and fastening point.

zip system building enclosure
Product Used on Urban Design Group’s Peabody Walk Project

Weatherproofing Made Easy

The goal of the ZIP System is to provide a structurally sound sheathing material that does the work of preventing both water and air entry into the OSB boards. The protective coating allows the ZIP System to prevent moisture entry without the builder needing to take many additional weatherproofing steps. In the event of a leak occurring, the waterproofing facer being built into the board means there’s less opportunity for water to penetrate deep into the OSB. For those looking for additional weatherproofing, the ZIP System-R product line is also available, which comes with an added layer of thermal insulation built into the board.

A Streamlined Process

The ZIP System can help streamline your sheathing process and reduce the manpower needed for installation. The taping process can be handled by one person, reducing the overall man-hours needed to seal the sheathing. ZIP System claims an installation time of over 40% faster than traditional sheathing + home wrapping processes, but these numbers are disputed by their competitors.

Proper Assembly Required

A criticism levied at the ZIP System is that the taped seams and fastening nails can create unexpected entry points for water. After pouring over the data, what we’ve discovered is that much like industry-standard home wrap products, issues often arise from improper installation practices. If the fastening tape is not properly rolled, lips and bubbles can be created where water can become trapped or enter in between the seams. Over-penetration of the nails used to fasten the board to the frame can also create possible moisture entry points. Just like with traditional home wrap products, proper installation following the manufacturers recommendations should result in a final product that protects your project from water and air intrusion.

Choose the Sheathing and Weatherproofing Products Right for You

We’ve explored what is the ZIP System today, and hope this information helps you make educated decisions about the materials you want to select. Whether you prefer the time-tested home wraps of Tyvek or are looking for a new solution from Huber, among many others, we have the building materials to help you create something spectacular. Contact our lumber team today to get started.

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