We've all seen the images of mold-infested homes that headlined media and courtrooms a few years ago–or experienced it firsthand–with faulty window installation often front and center as a main point of failure. But since that time, the industry has stepped-up efforts to provide training and manufacturers have responded with a range of products that protect window openings from moisture intrusion.
Robert Hagood, market manager for DuPont Flashing Systems, says that litigation has brought more attention to this vulnerable part of the building envelope; training and product solutions have both increased as a result. "I think what you're seeing there is some improvement in the codes as well as the materials that are offered," he says.
DuPont Tyvek led the way several years ago with its revolutionary FlexWrap, a moldable, peel-and-stick flashing tape that offers seamless protection around window curves and corners, and the companion StraightFlash product. This summer, the company added StraightFlash VF, a dual-sided flashing for installation with non-flanged windows and doors.
Several other manufacturers now offer peel-and-stick flashing tapes in straight and conformable versions, including Pactiv GreenGuard Flashing and GreenGuard SuperStretch Flashing; Dow Weathermate Straight Flashing and Flexible Flashing; and Typar Peel & Stick Flashing and Flashing Flex.
Sill pan solutions also abound. Marvin Windows & Doors has introduced SillGuard, a rigid pan with sloped channels that direct moisture out. Protecto Wrap's Protecto Sill Drainage System features a positive-sloped, closed-cell foam with a peel-and-stick backing that directs water onto the building plane. And the EZPan sill flashing system from Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing features an extruded foam sill wedge, flashing membrane, corner detail, and self-adhering flashing tape to provide a continuous water barrier and drainage plane.
Taking another approach, Grace Construction Products' prefabricated VYCORners create a waterproof joint at pesky corners.
Joe Lstiburek, a principal for Building Science Corp., a Westford, Mass.–based architecture and building science firm, says that as more attention continues to be paid on the training side and on the product side, those who are picking up the techniques are decreasing their problems. The next big thing in moisture protection, he predicts, will be liquid flashing that is painted on.
With all these choices, it's important to research which products work with your housewrap or building paper and with each other, and to receive training on proper installation. No matter which solutions are best for your area, the growing variety of products and education means there's no excuse for careless window installations that serve as open invitations for moisture intrusion.