Home Improvement

House Re-Wrap

I just can’t get enough of being at the top of really tall ladders, wishing I had more arms! When you put up house wrap, tape it! Tape it all! We’ve had some really windy days recently, and in a couple of places on the South wall, the house wrap was not up to the job (it’s almost like it’s not supposed to be left exposed all winter). The wind ripped the house wrap clean off the staples and it would flap, loudly, in the breeze, a constant reminder of my failure to adhere it properly the first time.

House wrap blowing away

In my defense, the South wall was put up in sections, so there are more seams than there should be, plus I put it up myself, and house wrap is, by most measures, a two (or four) person job, particularly when you’re twenty feet up in the air. We had a lot of help when we did the North side, but bringing in a bunch of people to repair one twenty-foot long strip seemed like overkill, even if it was up at the top of the wall.

After it tore off the second time, and then a second section came off after that, I realized if I didn’t get it on properly there wasn’t any point in doing it. However, that still left the question of how. While we have two ladders (one is on loan from Mike S), I didn’t want Sarah up on the other ladder, I wanted her holding mine so it didn’t fall over. After the Internet failed to produce an idea (there was one, but it doesn’t work when you’re way up in the air), I came up with how to do it.

House wrap dispenser

I drilled a hole in a block of wood and put one end of a ratchet strap through it, tying a knot to keep it from pulling back through. I ran the rest of the ratchet strap through the 9′ roll of house wrap, making a convenient dispenser that even had a hook at the top. For the first section, there are some conveniently large holes in the top of the wall that let me attach the hanging roll to a ratchet strap inside the attic.

Making progress

With the roll hanging from the top of the wall, I could pull it out and staple (and tape!) it at the start of the section. Then I went into the attic and carefully moved the roll from one side of the section to the other by reaching out through the gap in the wall and passing it around each rafter. Since the one end of the wrap was stapled, it simply unwound as I moved it. Then I went back to the ladder and stapled it all down, taping the bottom seam as well.

I’d originally skipped the bottom tape because I wanted a path for any water that got behind the house wrap to be able to drain out, but the wind catches it like a sail, and each staple that gives make a bigger sail area, increasing the force to pull it free.

House wrap curtain rod

The next section was the real trick. About twelve feet long to the corner, with no holes at the top of the wall, I had nothing to hook the roll on. I came up with a solution that I’m quite proud of. I found a tiny gap in the front corner of the house by the roofline where I could squeeze a ratchet strap out and attach it inside. Once hooked to a second ratchet strap, it was long enough to stretch across the section. I brought the loose end up the ladder and connected it to the ratchet, and made the whole thing taut, right under the roof line.

From there I hung the roll from the taut strap, and slid it along like a curtain rod, unrolling the house wrap as I went, moving the ladder every couple of feet. I cut the house wrap at the correct length to wrap around the front of the house by about a foot, lowered the rest of the roll down, and finally stapled and taped the edges.

House wrap restored (don’t mind the dangling strap)

After all of this, though, I’ve reconsidered something our builder suggested, which is to use Blueskin instead of the house wrap. After all of the time, effort, and money we’d spent to put the house wrap up, I wasn’t really interested when he brought it up several months ago, but now, with the house wrap looking worn and faded from being exposed too long, and an unrelated bit of work that needs to be done on the windows, it’s probably a good idea. It will do a better job of keeping out water and air sealing and still allows the building to dry to the exterior. I hate doing things twice, but even if I’d put up Blueskin in the first place, it would be well past its exposure time in several places.

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