Monday, December 9, 2013

Make It Right, Make It Watertight

When it comes to protecting your home from water damage and mold, membranes are important. In fact, Mike Holmes has written multiple articles about the importance of using the right types of membranes on the "envelope" of your house (see Insane in the Membrane for more information). In this article, Mike speaks about the importance of making your home watertight. He recounts a job where a relatively small tear in the membrane on a roof deck lead to a very costly repair. As with anything, there are different types of products you can use, and some are better than others. As Mike likes to point out, investing money into the right products can save you a lot of time, aggravation, and not to mention money in the future.

From the Winnipeg Free Press:

MIKE HOLMES: Make it right, make it watertight

Membranes minimize the danger of water damamge to your home


A waterproof membrane that is properly sealed and Tuck Taped helps protect a home's exterior sheathing from moisture, water damage and mould.
One of the most important systems protecting your home are waterproof membranes. When they don't work or get compromised, fixing the problem and repairing the damage can be very extensive, not to mention expensive.
On a recent job, one eight-centimetre tear in the waterproof membrane on a roof deck led to about $31,000 in repairs.
Waterproof membranes are meant to protect your home from any moisture and precipitation Mother Nature decides to throw your way, whether it's snow, rain or humidity.
Since they are meant to stop outside water and moisture from getting in, it makes sense that waterproof membranes are part of your home's building envelope -- what separates the inside of your home from the outside. That includes your home's exterior walls, foundation, roof, windows and doors.
Depending on where they need to go, there are different types of waterproof membranes.
Foundation: An exterior waterproof membrane on your home's foundation is literally an extra layer of protection. There are two types: damp-proof and waterproof, and they do different jobs.
A damp-proof membrane is usually a black tar or asphalt compound that gets painted or rolled onto your typical concrete foundation. On top of that goes a mastic coating -- which is like a waterproof paste -- a mesh coating and then another layer of mastic.
This system is meant to stop vapour from penetrating the concrete -- water vapour and sometimes even radon gas. But it's not 100 per cent waterproof. Instead, I like a two-coat liquid rubberized membrane that's sprayed on, only by certified contractors. It sets into a rubbery coating that is 100 per cent waterproof.
No matter what type of coating a foundation has, it must also be protected by dimpled membrane. It stops groundwater from coming into contact with the foundation wall, but the dimples also create a drainage space that lets the wall breathe.
According to code, all you need is the dimpled membrane. But adding that extra waterproof membrane creates a better waterproofing system.
Exterior walls: Over a regular stud framed wall, you have exterior sheathing and then your exterior material.
Most exteriors -- whether they are made of brick, aluminum, vinyl, wood or stucco -- will allow some moisture to get in. If that moisture meets the exterior sheathing underneath, there's the potential for mould.
To protect the exterior sheathing, we wrap it with house wrap or moisture wrap. Tyvek or Typar are the most popular with builders. Both are a type of synthetic wrapping material that has tiny microscopic holes, so they are still breathable.
But in order for this waterproof system to work, it must be properly installed. That means Tuck Taping all the joints and seams. If not, water can get in behind it, which defeats the purpose.
There's also a superior product -- Blueskin house wrap. It has an adhesive, so instead of needing to be fastened to the sheathing, like Tyvek or Typar, it sticks to it, which minimizes punctures in the membrane.
But for it to stick properly, the sheathing must be completely dry and dust-free. Plus, to fully seal exterior walls, Blueskin should be wrapped around windowsills and door jambs. That means installing it before windows and doors go in, and properly Tuck Taping it, too.
The roof: All roofs need some kind of sheathing membrane on them to control and drain moisture that might penetrate your roof. Minimum code says it must be installed on the first three feet of the roof's edge. Having it on the first six to eight feet is better, but on the entire roof is best.
Until the 1980s we only used tar paper. But now we have much better products that do a better job of stopping moisture.
Self-adhered products, such as ice and water-shield are better. They prevent ice damming and make the installation process easier -- which cuts down on labour time, saving the homeowner some money.
Also, when you nail shingles over tar paper it leaves holes in the surface. This makes the membrane weaker. But when you nail shingles over self-adhered roofing underlayment, such as Blueskin, the adhesives close up around the nail, so there are no holes or gaps in the membrane.
Blueskin also makes a "high-temperature" product specifically for metal roofs. It has a higher melting temperature than regular ice and water membranes. Why? Because metal roof gets very hot in the summer. It's important to make sure the adhesive on the membrane doesn't melt, which can compromise the bond to the sheathing below, making it vulnerable to water damage.
Making your home waterproof pays off every time. They might not seem like much, but waterproof membranes play a huge role when it comes to making it right and watertight. Cheaping out on the small stuff usually leads to not-so-cheap big stuff in the end.
-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013
Catch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit For more information on home renovations, visit


  1. Red Tuck Tape is a Canadian product of sheathing tape. That brand is not available in the US.


  2. It can be ordered on-line in Canada from some sources but they don't ship to the US.

    Here is a link to a blog that shows a picture of the Tuck Tape company building in Ville St.
    Laurent, A suburb of Montreal.

    Quite a few members from the US on the former Mike Holmes Fan Forum asked why Tuck Tape was not available in the US & I spent a great deal of time trying to find an answer but I have been unable so far to find an address or website to the actual manufacturer.

    Tuck Tape is carried by just about every big box store like Home Depot, RONA, Canadian Tire etc. & just about every hardware store & appears to be the largest & best known sheathing type brand in Canada.

    I'm kind of puzzled why a company with a brand that is that well known 7 successful is not interested in making Tuck Tape available to the US market.

    At this time I could only suggest that anyone from the US with relatives or friends in Canada, who really wants it that bad, could ask to ship it to them. But I'm sure other quality sheathing tape is available in the US.


    1. Not being in construction, I assumed listening to the show that "Tuck Tape" was just the name of the product they were using, like "duct tape" or "drywall." I didn't realize that it was a brand. But now I know that "Tuct Tape" is a brand of sheathing tape, which is aparently exclusively Canadian! :) Thank you for that factoid!

    2. Tuck Tape has become a generic name the same way it happened to Kleenex.


  3. My husband put tuck tape on my hardwood floors to hold down a mat while construction was taking place in our basement. Now I can't get the stuff off - can you help by advising me how to get the glue off my hardwood floors without destroying them?? It is Maple and we also have engineered hardwood in the basement with the same problem.

    1. Try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I have heard of it taking off PL Premium residue so it should work on tape residue too.

  4. Just wondering if you are supposed to use tuct tape on the bottom of a window with a nailing fin. We are getting mixed answers from several people.

    Ray Johnson

  5. Just wondering if you are supposed to tape the bottom part of a window that has a nailing fin on it. We are also using R5 codeboard

  6. My contractors used duck tape instead of tuck tape to seal cuts on plastic wrap which was behind the old drywall, which was removed along with old backsplash. This is an exterior wall. Behind the plastic is pink insulation. After taping it, they put up the drywall. Should I have it redone, or is it fine with duck tape. They also used this to seal around the electrical socket. Thoughts???
    Thank you

  7. My contractors used duck tape instead of tuck tape to seal cuts on plastic wrap which was behind the old drywall, which was removed along with old backsplash. This is an exterior wall. Behind the plastic is pink insulation. After taping it, they put up the drywall. Should I have it redone, or is it fine with duck tape. They also used this to seal around the electrical socket. Thoughts???
    Thank you

  8. Is there ever a need to use blue tuck tape inside? Looking at the performance -they appear to be the same:
    Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate 3.9x10-9 g/Pa s m2
    Water Penetration Rate 0.009 g/100 in2
    Manufacturing Site Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
    Air Permeance Rate 0.0010 L/s m2