Winter is Coming: Prepare for Success!
Project image: OPAL

Winter is Coming: Prepare for Success!

Rainbow leaves flutter in the autumn's golden glaze. Pumpkin spices take over bakeries and lattes. Hints of winter breeze dance around the trees.

While there's much to love about winter, such as waking up to fresh snow, reading by a fireplace, or going to the beach if you're in a temperate climate zone … winter demands a bit of preparation when we're out in the field.

Taking weather consciousness into consideration sets us up for year-long success. Here are our Top 3(ish) Considerations and Project Highlights to prepare you for the season ahead.

3(ish) Winter Considerations

1. Choose WRBs with High Exposure Ratings

If you're preparing to leave it exposed for the winter, check our WRB cheat sheet, choose one with a high exposure rating (3-6 month exposure rating). All Pro Clima WRB membranes are multi-layered products, with each layer having specific properties to assure the product offers first class performance during installation and the life of the building. The top layer serves as a protective cover made with a PP microfiber fleece. This offers the weather/UV resistance needed for both roofs and walls:

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2. Check The Weather Before You Ship: Water-Based Products Can Freeze

Water-based products can freeze, and although all products with adhesive should be stored above freezing to help ensure they perform best on a cold job site, there are 3 items that require special consideration to avoid shipping or storage through frigid temps:

  1. VISCONN - Water-based acrylic dispersion air barrier that can be brushed, rolled or sprayed on to for a seamless, elastic, air and vapor variable membrane once dry.
  2. VISCONN FIBRE - Same water-based acrylic dispersion as VISCONN with fibrous materials mixed in to fill gaps up to 3/4" to CMU, concrete, wood, and joist bays.
  3. TESCON PRIMER RP - Primer for wood, OSB, plywood, fiberboard, brick, concrete, roofs, walls and floors to prepare the substrate for the adhesion of Pro Clima tapes.

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3a. Avoid Damaging Levels of Moisture Loading

INTELLO is Best in Fall & Winter. During construction in colder months, when the interior of the building is at 90% RH, and the RH inside the insulation directly outboard of the INTELLO might conceivably be as high as 50%, the average RH at the membrane is 70%.

The German building code standard DIN 68800-2 requires that at 70% average RH, the vapor variable membrane’s permeability should not exceed 2.2 perms, yet not fall below 1.3 perms. At Pro Clima and 475 we call materials meeting this threshold HYDROSAFE.

We call it HYDROSAFE, because even in these challenging conditions, a 2.2 perm rating is retarding enough to avoid further damaging levels of moisture loading. And it must not be below 1.3 perms, to guarantee the long term protection and durability during occupancy of the building.

INTELLO is HYDROSAFE, with an optimized perm rating, at the sweet spot of 1.6 at 70% RH - providing maximum protection during construction and then during occupancy. So the shape of the curve is important.

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3b. … So Work With The Best Smart Vapor Retarder

The benefits of smart vapor variability increase as the winters get stronger. INTELLO Plus is the best vapor retarder on the market. It is a vapor variable membrane - a smart vapor retarder. If you're in a location with a winter season, all the way down to northern Florida (Climate zone 2), INTELLO works to increase drying reserves and prevent moisture damage risk by limiting wetting in the winter and allowing drying inward in the summer.

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3 Notable Winter Projects

1. Prefab Construction Avoids Complications Of Harsh Weather

Prefab construction allows for quick installations, avoiding long exposure periods. In the video below, Phoenix Haus installs PHI-Certified building enclosure panels in just 4 days! Phoenix Haus (a design & construction firm based in Grand Junction, Colorado) constructed their Alpha System enclosure panels for H19 in their assembly line panel factory. H19 is a single-family 'Homestead' of 1,900 sq ft. As they were planning when this video was shot, it's available now for short term rentals on AirBnB.

2. Passive House Construction in Climate Zone 7

Emu Systems specializes in building Passive Houses in different climate zones. In the video below, Alex Everett of Everett Building and Enrico Bonilauri of Emu Systems share details of a project set to be Teton County Wyoming's first Certified Passive House. As a member of the Emu Systems' North American Pilot Program, the design of this home was optimized for thermal comfort and moisture control and will be continuously monitored to ensure plans meet their intended performance measures.

3. A Perfect Winter Recipe

Builder and owner of Vermont Natural Homes, Chad Mathrani, uses a combination of straw bale insulation and blown-in cellulose, with airtightness provided by lime-stabilized clay plaster and a variety of materials from Pro Clima. In the video below, Chad shares his unique recipe, suitable for the tough Vermont winters.

This includes: SOLITEX MENTO Plus for exterior airtightness with dense pack insulation; SOLITEX MENTO 1000 for exterior connection to slab and above plaster, to roof; DB+ for interior airtightness on ceilings and with dense pack insulation; CONTEGA FC for interior connections from clay plaster to wood; CONTEGA EXO for exterior connections from clay plaster to wood; TESCON PROFIL for window, door, and corner connections; TESCON VANA for flat seams on airtight membranes and at window connections; EXTOSEAL ENCORS for heavy-duty sill pan protection; LUNOS e² and eGO for decentralized, ductless, heat recovery ventilation.

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