Business Advice4 min

House Sheathing for Cold Climates

With temperatures dropping, insulation and protecting new construction against the elements are top of mind. Of course, builders must consider how insulated wall sheathing can help meet code requirements and contribute to the overall performance of the building envelope. However, they must also carefully consider potential moisture problems both during and after the build and the potential impacts of freeze/thaw cycles. With the season of potential hard freezes followed by fast warm-ups upon us, let’s explore methods for choosing the best house sheathing for cold climates

Why cold weather sheathing considerations are needed

It takes lengthy and consistent moisture exposure for wood to rot and decay. The moisture content must reach around 19% for wood rot to begin, and it requires sustained exposure to make a difference. Even so, builders must work to prevent additional water intrusion so it doesn’t create water damage that can worsen during winter. 

Water can be stored in a wood product in two ways: in the middle of the wood’s cells or within the wood cell walls. The water accumulation within the wood cell walls causes expansion as it chemically binds within the cellular structure. When that occurs, it pushes the fibers apart and makes them swell. 

LP Building Solutions has been long committed to engineering building materials that stand up specifically to moisture-related challenges. From air and water barriers to sub-flooring and siding materials, our products are engineered to ensure that winter weather challenges help protect the integrity of your projects long-term.

Wall sheathing for cold weather considerations

We spoke with Jordan Smith of @jordansmithbuilds about the benefits—and drawbacks—of different wall sheathing options. 

“When you’re choosing a sheathing product, think about all the problems that could go wrong,” advises Smith. “One of the disadvantages I’ve seen with a fabric-type or wrap-type weather-resistant barrier is when a leak happens somewhere on the wall and water is able to get behind, the water typically leaks all the way down the face of the OSB. There is nothing to protect the OSB after it leaks. 

“With LP WeatherLogic® Air & Water Barrier, if I get a leak anywhere, it only affects that area. Since the WRB is integrated into the wood product behind, it forces the water out in front of the WRB and I don’t have damage all the way down. I much prefer this system.”

Smith recently put LP WeatherLogic sheathing to the ultimate cold climate test, alternatively freezing and thawing both LP WeatherLogic panels and OSB panels. First, Smith submerged both products in water for 24 hours, then pulled them out and froze them. He repeated this process a total of 10 times, waiting a span of 24 hours for each cycle.

“The LP WeatherLogic panels expanded 18%, so it let in some water. However, this isn’t an underwater product. It is a wall sheathing product, so being underwater for 10 days is unrealistic. The commodity OSB expanded nearly twice as much. We’ve got 34% expansion and it actually ripped my detail seam apart,” he said. In this video, you’ll see that Smith placed his screwdriver in the opening and was able to completely delaminate the commodity OSB. 

“Because of the cyclic exposure of this test, the water pushed the OSB fibers apart. On the other hand, the LP WeatherLogic panel didn’t let in nearly enough water to have that kind of expansion and separation,” Smith reported. 

Sub-flooring and adhesive for cold and wet climates

Choosing a sub-flooring product that can stand up to cold climates is also valuable. LP Legacy® Premium Sub-Flooring features moisture resistance as well as incredible strength and stiffness. When paired with LP Legacy Premium Sub-Floor Adhesive, the benefits reach new levels of protection. 

LP Legacy Premium Sub-Floor Adhesive is a ready-to-use, single-component, high-strength, fast-curing polyurethane adhesive that collapses to a gel immediately after dispensing. By expanding in small gaps between panels and supports, LP Legacy adhesive helps create a tight bond. It’s gun-applied, fast-curing and 100% solvent-free, designed for ideal use with LP Legacy panels.

Want to learn how to prevent water intrusion in the first place? See how the pros work around vulnerable areas, like windows and doors. 

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