20 November

Spray or sheet applied air barrier -- which is better?

“Should I specify a spray-applied or self-adhered sheet applied air barrier?”  That is a question our tech desk experts frequently hear.  But when they dig a little deeper the question always boils down to this: Which choice is the better choice? 

The answer? Both are good products and will provide reliable air barriers.  Making the choice between spray applied or self-adhered sheet applied air barriers depends on two key considerations:  project conditions and personal preference.  To help you decide, here are some pros and cons of each.

Spray applied air barriers provide labor savings during installation, as well as easy installation around penetrations like brick ties or electrical conduits.  Spray applied air barriers also easily conform to uneven substrates.  Their success lies with the applicator and your confidence that he can consistently apply the correct thickness.  If you’re not familiar with his work, here’s a tip: how often does he check the spray application?  A good applicator checks application thickness every 500 square feet using a wet mil gauge during the application to ensure the correct thickness.

Conversely, self-adhered, sheet-applied membranes don't have applicator issues because the manufacturer guarantees a minimum thickness. However, self-adhered sheet applied membranes present two distinct challenges: installation is labor intensive; and application is more difficult on uneven substrates.

Which is better? That answer is best decided by consulting with business owners, architects and installers.

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