What Is A House Wrap And Why You Need One

When building your home, there are a few things that are easy to miss. You may forget to add a sound barrier to your upstairs under the floor. Or, you may forget to add a house wrap if you haven’t built many houses. 

house wrap

And no, a house wrap is not a sort of mural or wallpaper for outdoor use that makes your house look nice. A house wrap is a material that won’t be seen but instead offers a more practical use. You are going to want one of these. 

What Is A House Wrap?

A house wrap is a material that covers the exterior sheathing of a house. It is used to protect the walls and framing of the house. House wraps go underneath the siding of the house and are waterproof, weatherproof, and often fireproof.

They work as a moisture barrier and keep the interior walls safe when the siding fails to do so. House wraps should not be confused with siding as siding is visible and house wraps are usually not visible. 

What some people don’t understand, however, is that house wraps aren’t generally made to protect you from the air or sounds. It isn’t a type of insulation so you will still need a good insulation in your home.

Do I Need A House Wrap?

House wraps aren’t essential as they aren’t out in every house but they are highly recommended. Any contractor that knows what he is doing will wrap the house before applying siding because it has a huge array of benefits.

While there are a few other benefits to house wraps, such as a sound barrier and air barrier, their main purpose is to keep moisture out. This is what it does if you get the right house wrap for your home.

When it comes to house wraps, it’s important that the permeability must be at least 5, though up to 60 is recommended. So when choosing a house wrap, make sure you check its permeability rating. More is better.

Can I Use A House Wrap Inside?

House wraps aren’t very useful inside. Because if used inside, they would prevent water from getting outside. This isn’t a very useful thing to do because you need to prevent the water from getting inside, not outside. 

While it would be possible to put it under some wall coverings, most indoor wall coverings don’t need anything like it and in fact, would suffer from it. So in short, no, house wraps cannot be used inside. 

Types Of House Wraps

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Like there are different types of siding you can use, there are also different types of house wraps you can use too. Each wrap has a specific purpose and a contractor can help you find the right house wrap for you.

There are only a few things to consider otherwise. The amount of protection it offers, how compatible it is with your siding, and how much it costs. After you find out these three things, you’re ready to choose.

House Wrap Options

  • Asphalt felt— also known as tar paper, this type of house wrap is felt with an asphalt backing. But not just any type of tar paper will do. It has to pass certain tests to be used as a house wrap. So make sure the ar paper is designed for this purpose.
  • Grade D building paper— another type of asphalt paper, this house wrap is often used under stucco. Because other types of house wraps won’t do. You need something that the stucco will stick to as the house wrap goes on first.
  • Polyolefin fabric— this is a common type of woven plastic fiber paper that is often used under the wood siding. It is a common and affordable option that can be found at any hardware store within most budgets.
  • Liquid WRB— this type of house wrap also works as an air barrier because it is rolled on tar that applies like paint. It is much more permanent than other options but also more expensive and stronger.
  • Rigid foam— this isn’t the most secure option but it does the simple job it needs to do. Just because careful to get foam that is good enough for a house wrap, as in one that was made to be a house wrap
  • WRB sheathing— this type of house wrap is OSB, which is similar to plywood and is known as oriented-strand board.  This is a great option for that extra bit of protection as it is an official WRB. 

How To Install A House Wrap

Installing a house wrap is fairly easy as long as you do it at the right time and with the right tools. House wraps should be installed after the house is covered with plywood yet before windows and doors are installed. 

Step 1: Sealing

Yes, it can be a good idea to seal what you can before adding a house wrap. Since wood houses are the most common, we will use them as an example for this tutorial. In this case, you should seal problem spots first. 

This will be any cracks you may see, the areas around the roof, and in general, sealing as much as you can from the east-west is a good idea. This is because the wind usually blows from here, allowing more moisture in during storms. 

For outdoor sealing, you can use a sealant like caulk, wood filler, or even a simple primer-sealer if you are covering the entire wall. All of these will work but asking a contractor which is best for your project is ideal. 

Step 2: Wrapping

After you seal the problem areas then you can start wrapping. Take the type of house wrap you chose and begin wrapping. from the bottom to the top. It should be like applying a screen protector to your phone.

Depending on the type of wrap you have, you may need to do a little bit of securing periodically as you are applying the wrap. This may or may not be necessary. If it won’t stay up, then secure it as you go. 

Make sure when wrapping, the vertical lines overlap around 6 inches and the horizontal lines about half that. As for windows and doors, have the overlap reach over and staple on the other side. This area needs extra help.

Step 3: Securing

You can use glue, staples, or tacks to secure the wrap. Most house wraps come with a securing agent that the manufacturer packed with the wrap. If the house wrap you have didn’t then you can call the manufacturer and ask them. 

If you can’t contact them, either return the wrap for one that does come with a securing agent or call the hardware store where you got it and ask them what to do. They can usually recommend an alternative. 

Step 4: Sealing Again

After you finish applying and securing the wrap, you need to seal the top. You can do this by adding tape that is made for your type of sealer to the top of it on all seams, both vertically and horizontally. 

This is an important last step. But after you make sure the area is sealed well, you can add the siding of your choice and your home will have a great moisture barrier. It may take extra time, but it’s always worth it.

Tips For House Wraps

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Getting as much knowledge as you can about any given subject will always help you later in life. Although our tutorial covers most of what you need to know, here are a few tips that you may find helpful. 

  • Add extra drainage – this means, adding a drainage system below the barrier so that any extra water is controlled. You want to control where the water goes, you don’t want to leave it to chance. 
  • Use correct tools and materials – from sealants to securing methods, use the appropriate ones for the material you chose to use as a house wrap. Otherwise, you may end up with non-compatible combos.
  • Don’t use chemicals – when installing or cleaning the house wrap, don’t use chemicals. If something gets on the wrap, wash it with soap and water. Using chemicals can break down the material and prevent it from working. 
  • Fix a budget – some materials are much more expensive than others. So make sure whoever is helping you pick out a house wrap knows this. Even if that person is you! Stick with your budget unless there is no other option. 
  • Save you money – a good house wrap will save you money by preventing water damage to your house. A house wrap is much cheaper than water damage repair, which is sometimes, in fact, irreparable. 

How To Choose A House Wrap

If you’re like most people, you know that a house wrap is nearly necessary and so now you just need to know which one to get. If you are hiring a contractor, trust them to pick the right one for you and your budget.

But if you are on your own, consider these things: price, compatibility, protection. Because that is all that matters for a house wrap. Everything else is down to personal choice. So find what works for you.