Small-scale testing of air barrier systems adhered to sheathing boards under in-plane cyclic loading simulating a seismic event

Karim Abdelwahab, Ali Memari, Corey Gracie-Griffin, Lisa Iulo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Envelope air leakage is a large contributor of energy loss in modern high-performance construction. Building enclosure designers along with the building science community are emphasizing the importance of incorporating air barrier products in the envelope design. Furthermore, regulators are reassessing the allowable air leakage limits prescribed in local codes, to reduce unintentional infiltration. Although voluntary, Passive House building standards inform methods and targets for achieving minimal air leakage values to meet certification. Commercial air barrier products often satisfy the airtightness requirements during and immediately following construction. However, seismic events could potentially damage the air barrier product and compromise the envelope's air tightness. This paper presents the findings of an experimental program conducted to test commercially available air barrier products under in plane cyclic loading. A cyclic loading profile was designed to simulate a seismic event. Selected air barrier products were adhered to small-scale sheathing panels and tested after curing. Multiple combinations of sheathing board material and air barrier tapes were tested. The tested sample groups represent the most common air barrier systems used in the industry, incorporating 3 M Construction Seaming Tape, Siga Wigluv 60, Prosoco R-Guard Joint and Seam Filler, and Zip System Tape. The failure load and failure displacement were recorded for each test, along with the corresponding failure mode. The results of the experimental program suggest that 0.5-inches [1.27 cm] of in plane vertical displacement could completely compromise the air barrier layer due to the delamination or tear of the air barrier sealant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02686
JournalCase Studies in Construction Materials
StatePublished - Jul 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)

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