It's been several years since the mold scare hit the headlines and mold litigation became de rigueur. Since then, home builders have grown extremely concerned about water infiltration, and though the media frenzy has calmed, mold litigation is still a prevalent and potentially business-crippling problem. Water infiltration around windows or doors has been a particular problem. In fact, poor installation still causes 80% of window and door callbacks, according to George Digman, director of research and development for Kolbe Windows & Doors, and roughly 90% of those callbacks are due to incorrect flashing techniques.
Consequently, manufacturers, installers, and builders have been paying more attention to window installation practices, focusing on the use of flashings and sill pans. “There is definitely an increased awareness and use of flashing and sill drainage products at all levels. The name of the game is to reduce callbacks and litigation,” says Tim Schettler, vice president of sales and marketing for Protecto Wrap Co.
The newest flashings and sill systems are designed for a wider variety of applications and to make installation easier. Peel-and-stick flashing tapes, originally all asphalt adhesive–based, have evolved over the past few years. Because asphalt adhesives can be temperamental in many jobsite conditions, most manufacturers—including GreenGuard, DuPont, BBA Fiberweb, Protecto Wrap, Tyco Plastics & Adhesives, and Scapa North America—have developed butyl adhesive–based flashings that stick to walls better and can be left exposed for longer periods in certain climates.
Split-release films and liners on window and door flashing tapes make applying the flashings easier, according to manufacturers, because the installer can remove the liner from one side of the tape, press it around the window opening, and then peel away the other half to secure the remaining side of the tape onto the housewrap.
Other manufacturers have developed easy-to-apply sill drainage systems to take the place of site-fabricated and custom-made sill pans. Along with offerings from traditional building product manufacturers Grace Construction Products, Protecto Wrap, Dow, Jamsill, and Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing, Marvin Windows & Doors also has debuted a sill pan system to complement its products. Made from durable, rigid—yet easy-to-work—materials, these sill drainage systems are designed to install in multiple parts for easy custom fitting on the jobsite.
The need for contractors to increase efficiencies, limit their liability, and reduce callbacks is spurring many of them to depend on installed sales dealers whose crews are window installation specialists, and to require the use of flashings. Builders “are becoming more business-oriented, focused not just on how they can build a better project, but also on how they can minimize callbacks because that creates better customer relations,” says Peter Brnger, president of Keene, N.H.–based window and door installation company Millwork Masters.
If you're offering installed sales of windows and doors, you owe it to your customers and to your business to make sure your crews get continual training in the latest methods, and the industry offers many programs to get you started. Offering to help train your customers' crews can make them sit up and recognize your company as the local expert.