Riding a boost in popularity thanks to higher gas bills and environmental concerns, housewrap product manufacturers are trying to bring added benefits and more convenient options to their customers. Some new offerings include weather barrier systems that combine two or more products into one, products made for niche markets, and reflective housewrap that better prevents heat transfer.

WRAP ARTISTS: Environmentally Safe Products (left) and DuPont (upper right) have added a radiant barrier to their housewrap lines for energy efficiency. Fortifiber (bottom right) combined two layers of weather resistance into one in its Weather Tex housewrap. "We're under very difficult financial times," says Pat Lynch, vice president of sales for Georgia-Pacific. "Anything you can do to bring value–have a solution that eliminates cost or has a benefit–would help builders sell a home or a model home."

Georgia-Pacific launched Nautilus, which merges OSB wall sheathing and housewrap into one product, to help builders cut installation time. The product installs like typical sheathing, and the seams are taped to prevent air leaks. A building wrap is laminated to the sheathing so a builder does not have to install housewrap over the product.

Along with saving time during installation, these products "reduce inefficiencies or inconsistencies in on-site construction," says John Hammer, a Dow residential marketing manger. Dow's Styrofoam SIS Brand structural insulated sheathing melds wood sheathing, housewrap, and insulation into one system. The product launched via a pilot program in select regions, and it will roll out nationally later this year. Huber Engineered Woods' Zip System wall sheathing includes a built-in weather-resistive barrier.

Fortifiber's Weather Tex fits the systems trend, but it also works well in niche markets. Weather Tex two-ply housewrap combines building paper with a polymeric housewrap. The product keeps builders from needing to wrap a house twice to get the protection of two layers. This is especially helpful in areas such as Florida, where two-ply application is a code requirement, says Dave Olson, technical services manager for Fortifiber. The product also keeps builders from having to layer housewrap and building paper to finish a home in stucco or cultured stone.

Some of Typar's new products also reflect the niche housewrap trend. Besides functioning as a housewrap, StormWrap features impact resistance for extreme weather conditions. Its MetroWrap product has a tear strength almost five times that of the leading polymeric wrap, the maker says, and is made specifically for commercial construction.

Reflective weather barriers serve as housewrap, keeping heat out of a home in the summer and in a home in the winter. DuPont's new Tyvek ThermaWrap uses a breathable aluminum layer to reduce heat flow by 15%, add a value of R-2 to a wall when installed with an air space, and serve as a weather barrier.

Covertech Fabricating's new Reflective Ruff Rap is a single layer of highly reflective, metalized aluminum laminated to a formulated blend of polyethylene, and is pin perforated. Thus, the housewrap not only acts as an air-infiltration barrier, but also adds a radiant barrier, stopping 96% of radiant heat transfer and increasing wall insulation efficiency by 20%, the maker says. Environmentally Safe Products' Low-E housewrap blocks up to 97% of radiant heat with a pin-perforated product made of a pure-aluminum facing bonded to one or both sides of closed-cell polyethylene.

Manufacturers are touting the value and energy savings of housewrap. "On the consumer side, they want homes with a high eco-rating and lower heating and cooling costs," Hammer says. "On the builder side, they want to find a way to sell more homes and differentiate themselves in a very competitive market."

–Victoria Markovitz