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The Benefits of Air and Water Resistive Barriers For Open Joint Cladding Designs
Open joint cladding is an increasingly popular design choice for exterior façades - effectively enhances the visual appeal of a building. Through the creation of clean lines and modern features, it can typically provide construction projects with a contemporary aesthetic that complements most surrounding landscapes.
However, despite its decorative benefits, open joint cladding systems can come with some performance disadvantages. As the name suggests, this style of cladding exposes the exterior wall to the elements – including water, wind and UV rays. This can make it more vulnerable to the growth of mold, mildew and rot within the wall cavity.
This can reduce the lifespan of a building and cause a multitude of problems for architects and contractors, as well as building owners and tenants!
Read on to find out why using the right Air and Water Resistive Barriers (“AWB”) can mitigate these risks, and why Elemax™ AWB is such a popular choice amongst architects and contractors across the globe.
Air and Water-Resistive Barriers – A Closer Look
Given the risk of water ingress to open joint cladding systems, it’s essential that the right steps are taken to protect designs and ensure their long-term performance.
This typically comes in the form of an air and water-resistive barrier ; a clever addition that acts as a protective shield for buildings by helping to prevent the infiltration of water, while also letting the building breathe by allowing water vapor to escape.
The correct application and type of AWB has a multitude of benefits. By helping keep materials dry, it increases the overall durability of a building and reduces both maintenance costs and costly repairs.
Types of Air and Water Barriers Explained
There are several types of AWB’s on the market, each with their own characteristics that make them particularly suitable for certain projects.
Fluid applied air and water barriers have specific advantages and are scientifically engineered to achieve performance characteristics that can protect a building’s envelope, and in turn, improve its efficiency.
Generally, they can be easily applied using sprayers, brushes or power rollers. This enables a more seamless installation, and a tighter seal, especially around joints and penetrations. Fluid applied AWBs are based on a few different chemistries, including acrylic and silicone.
Unlike sheet types that rely on either limited adhesion or on mechanical attachment, fluid applied systems are fully adhered to a substrate.
They maintain flexibility, even at low temperatures, and protect exterior wall assemblies against air and water, whilst allowing water vapor to escape.
Introducing Elemax™ Air and Water Resistive Barrier Coating
GE Elemax 2600 Air and Water Resistive-Barrier is a solvent free formulated, fluid-applied, vapor permeable, seamless membrane used to help protect and help control the flow of air and water through your building.
Through rain, wind, snow and sun, this high performing product works to help ensure that your building is energy efficient and protected from all the elements - whatever the weather.
Made from 100% silicone, Elemax AWB has been known to deliver great results with just one coat – with no primer required. It typically quickly cures to form a durable membrane that is UV-resistant, vapor-permeable and airtight.
It is incredibly robust and it tends to maintain its elasticity after years of exposure to extreme weather and temperature – making it an excellent solution for most open joint rain screen systems, and a great candidate as a long-term barrier against the passage of air and water.
Benefits of Elemax AWBs
With years of experience researching and making high-performing silicone products, Elemax is backed by world-class technical support and warranties of up to 20 years.
Key features include:
Building Code compliance
Long-term UV and weather resistance
Excellent performance in open joint rain screen systems
NFPA 285 compliant
Warranties available up to 20 years
One-coat, primerless application
Rain-ready in as little as 30 minutes
GE Elemax in Action
Elemax AWB is suitable for use in a full range of construction projects and designs. From schools to stadiums and beyond, it’s efficacy has been demonstrated in several successful projects with specific performance requirements.
Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest non-profit health providers in the US and is based in California’s remote Antelope Ballet – an area subject to extreme wind speeds and variation in temperature.
This project needed a product that could withstand these environmental stressors, all while meeting a goal of LEED (platinum) Certification for a more energy efficient building. Elemax AWB was the best solution offered and picked by their architects due to its resilient characteristics and energy efficiency.
Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington DC underwent a $152m expansion project to transform the existing site into a modernized, larger facility. Like Kaiser Permanente, it also had ambitious energy goals, with the aim to be Net Zero Energy ready.
To reach the required standards, original plans involved a complex design that incorporated a complicated mix of spray foam for the exterior, an additional thermal barrier coating and an acrylic AWB coating.
However, the supplier of sealants assigned to the project recognised there was an easier and more cost-effective solution, and replaced the acrylic AWB with Elemax 2600 AWB. This helped to improve the energy performance, and eliminated the need for a thermal barrier coating – reducing costs, complexity and timescale for this project.
SoFi is a flagship stadium required an Air and Water Barrier solution that could be used both with and without cladding, wouldn’t detract from its aesthetic appeal or be damaged by the high Californian temperatures and UV levels.
Elemax AWB was specified because of its unique, 100% silicone-based formula and it’s inherent ability to withstand the elements while maintaining elasticity and performance after years of exposure to extreme temperatures.
Control Humidity. Maintain Air Quality. Improve Energy Efficiency. Elemax AWB has several performance qualities which make it ideal for almost any project. These include:
Reduced Energy Consumption - Elemax AWB systems control the flow of air and water through the building envelope, creating a contiguous barrier that can reduce energy consumption in a building as much as 35% while guarding against water-related issues.
Self-sealing – This unique silicone product passes water penetration standards for nails and fasteners when tested at system film thickness, and fastener self-sealing ensures that the AWV performs optimally, even after the building is fully clad.
Elastomeric – A permanently flexible continuous membrane forms upon curing, meaning it becomes virtually unaffected by temperature extremes.
Vapor Permeable - Elemax coating allows moisture vapor to pass but prohibits the passage of liquid water, helping keep your materials safe and dry.