Architectural Record BE - Building Enclosure

Specifying Air Barrier Membranes that Comply with Building Code Fire Safety Provisions

This course is no longer active
Sponsored by Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing, Incorporated
Continuing Education

Learning Objectives - After this course, you should be able to:

  1. %IExplain why air barrier membranes and foam insulation are beneficial for use in wall assemblies.
  2. %IList the 6 basic elements of fire safety in building construction
  3. %IExplain the material and assembly properties evaluated by ASTM E 119, ASTM E 84 and NFPA 285
  4. %IKnow where IBC requires NFPA 285, and explain the effects of this requirement on material and wall assembly burn performance
  5. %IDraft specification language for fire resistant air barrier membranes and wall assemblies that comply with fire safety provisions of IBC


When projects call for an airtight building envelope, designers typically choose 40-mil-thick sheet membranes made from rubberized asphalt or synthetic rubber. The same qualities that make these membranes superior water and vapor barriers also make them highly flammable. Significant changes in the 2012 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Fire Code (IFC) require new wall assemblies containing plastic foam insulation and combustible weather barriers to pass the key standard NFPA 285. Until now designers faced a dilemma: do they specify wall assemblies containing the most energy-efficient air and vapor barriers, or do they specify wall assemblies that can pass the NFPA fire test? This course focuses on the changes in codes and standards, and on new products that bring to the building envelope the same thermal barrier technology developed by NASA and used by soldiers, firefighters and race care drivers. These highly effective air and vapor barriers combine energy efficiency and state of the art fire resistance to meet stringent new codes and provide increased safety for the life of the building.