Scott Welling, a buyer for Carter Lumber in Kent, Ohio, hasn't seen new housewrap products this year. But he has seen customers move away from inexpensive, one-size-fits-all offerings. Instead, they're choosing the best option for their project.

"People are following the green movement and the science, instead of just going to a low-end housewrap," Welling says. "They are going for something more designed for their product."

Housewrap has leapt in popularity in recent years. In the ProSales 100 from 2001, 54% of dealers sold housewrap. In 2009, 89% reported they sold housewrap.

With this popularity comes more consumer awareness. Building scientists and those in the green movement stress housewrap's importance in creating a healthy home. As a result, manufacturers say builders are moving from basic products to more specific and advanced applications. While this is not an entirely new trend, it keeps getting stronger.

"One thing we are noticing with more frequency is niche housewraps," says Bob Dahl, business director of Typar construction products. "For instance, there are now housewraps made for specific siding, climates, regions, and weather patterns."

A variety of manufacturers offer such products. Typar makes StormWrap for high-wind, coastal regions and areas prone to hurricanes. DuPont has Tyvek StuccoWrap and DrainWrap for builders using stucco and cedar siding.

Fortifiber Building Systems Group offers Weather Tex, a two-ply housewrap. It keeps builders from having to layer housewrap and building paper in stucco or cultured stone installations.

"Understanding that building practices and materials are different depending on where you work, builders respond and appreciate solutions that meet their individual demands," says Laura Dwyer, residential marketing manager for DuPont.

Some builders go further by using more advanced construction methods. This is why Chris Yount, Fortifiber's executive vice president, says interest in rain screen construction is growing. "People in high-exposure areas who already use housewrap, such as along the coastline, are saying, 'Let me beef it up,'" Yount says.

The advancement in this construction method lies in putting a ventilation space between the back of the cladding and a weather-resistant barrier. Any moisture, such as wind-driven rain, that gets behind the cladding will be able to dry out in the space.

Cosella-Dö rken offers a rain screen product called Delta-Dry. It is a three-dimensional membrane that provides drainage and ventilation through a dimple-and-groove design. The maker is expanding the line with plastic mounting strips and Delta-Dry Plus, which has a mortar netting fabric attached to it.

Other building organizations have voiced support for the practice. Last December, the NAHB released a rain screen installation guide. Mark Williams, president of Maple Glen, Pa.?based Williams Building Diagnostics, which helps repair buildings with water problems, assisted the NAHB with the report. He says the guide stems from issues with Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS). Water got behind the EIFS and had no way to dry. "If the cladding does not have some means to manage the water, then you are going to end up trapping the water," he says. "The real thing is to drain and dry the water."

While interest has intensified in rain screens, the system's costs hold it back. Expenses include the rain screen product itself and the cost of flashing, mounting, other components, and installation. "One of the main things slowing it down is the economy," Yount says. "People are trying to find the cheapest way to build a house, but I think its adoption will continue."

"You have to come to the point of what should be the baseline to your cost," Williams says. "If your approach isn't working, then what's the point?"

–Victoria Markovitz