All-In-One Sheathing Panel Insulates and Protects


The response of building product manufacturers to the home building industry’s twin challenges of tightening building code with crippling labor shortages could be summed up in a single word: innovation.

That innovation reached a timely new expression with the emergence of an all-in-one envelope sealing and insulating solution that leap-frogs traditional exterior wall assembly methods.

New all-in-one insulated exterior sheathing panels eliminate numerous passes around the building that were once required to install multiple products, to meet thermal-management codes, while also accounting for controlling air leakage, water intrusion and providing structural integrity.


Compressing Steps for 2015 Code Compliance

For results-minded homebuilders, this “one-and-done” exterior wall sheathing installation achieves structure, an effective air- and water-barrier and reduced thermal bridging (through continuous exterior insulation), minimizes labor, time, and materials while helping to meet 2015 energy codes for thermal envelope performance.

“Does my exterior wall meet the new code?” is a question widely asked across the country these days. The new ZIP System® R-Sheathing insulated exterior wall system, developed by Huber Engineered Woods LLC of Charlotte, N.C., is available in a range of built-in insulation thicknesses, and helps achieve compliance with new building and energy standards, as ICC-ES Report ESR-3373 documents:

  • 2015, 2012, and 2009 International Building Code®
  • 2015, 2012, and 2009 International Residential Code®
  • 2015, 2012, and 2009 International Energy Conservation Code®

There’s a strong likelihood you’ll see much more of this new insulated sheathing system in coming months as builders and installation contractors continue to transition it into their workflow. Code enforcement officials may want to investigate the product’s compliance credentials as well as the means and methods it uses to achieve multiple building objectives.


All-In-One Capability

ESR-3373, for example, reports the ZIP System R-Sheathing product was evaluated for no less than four performance characteristics:

  • Structural (approved for prescriptive wall bracing and engineered shear walls)
  • Thermal resistance
  • Air leakage
  • Weather resistance

This broad spectrum of performance eliminates the need for multiple, separately-installed air and water barrier building envelope products. The advantage of sheathing with multiple layers manufactured into the panel offers designers, builders, and contractors benefits that cannot be easily duplicated at the worksite. For example, all ZIP System sheathing products include a resin-impregnated membrane fused onto the surface of an engineered wood substrate that meets the requirement for a Weather Resistive Barrier.


Type V Wall Construction

The panel’s combination of layered materials meets requirements for weather-resistive barriers in accordance with Chapter 14 in the IBC and Chapter 7 in the IRC. ZIP System R-Sheathing is ideally suited for Type V wall construction and has shown to integrate well with a wide range of wall claddings, including adhered stone, brick, hard coat stucco, lapped siding, metal siding, window installation, and wood shakes/shingles. What’s more, the system is completed with ZIP System™ seam-sealing tape offering advanced acrylic adhesion designed to continuously accommodate structural expansion and contraction (see ICC-ES Report ESR-1474).    


Thermal Barrier Performance

One aspect of the innovative sequencing of the layered panel merits special mention: The polyisocyanurate (polyiso) continuous foam insulation layer is stud-facing. This inverted approach shields the continuous insulation layer from weathering effects and preserves the panel’s exterior face for nail-based cladding. Even with this unique orientation, the product has proven to meet the braced wall panel requirements established in ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria 269.1. In addition, the product comes in four different insulation thicknesses. Each offering a unique R-value intended to address varying prescriptive wall insulation requirements found in each of the climate zones outlined in the 2015 IECC. 

Building code officials seeking to investigate performance testing and physical properties should consult ICC-ES ESR-3373, ESR-1474, and the manufacturer’s technical library for evaluation reports, UL fire-rated assembly reports, product data sheets, safety data sheets, environmental product declaration, specifier information, among other resources. For immediate questions, call 800.933.9220, x2716 for prompt assistance.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Huber Engineered Woods and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Code Council, or Hanley Wood.