Architectural Record BE - Building Enclosure

Detailing Continuity in Building Enclosure Systems

Integrated products and proper detailing help maintain air, water, and thermal barrier integrity
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Sponsored by Huber Engineered Woods, LLC
By Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Detailing Solutions

By now, it is clear how important the details of construction are to assure that all barriers are appropriately selected and are indeed continuous throughout a building enclosure. This means that each area identified in an envelope review must be thought through and shown on the final construction drawings. Those details need to be straightforward to construct in the field to allow for proper installation that can produce the intended continuity and high performance to meet code or green building standards.

With all of the above in mind, then, we will look at some of the more common conditions in a wood-framed building envelope. The following details, shown roughly in the general order of construction, are meant to literally illustrate the points discussed throughout this course and include a discussion of the thought process and rationale for each. All are based on the use of integrated sheathing and compatible components to achieve full continuity for high-performance buildings. In all cases, the manufacturer’s literature and tested assembly results should be consulted to assure proper performance and use of their products.


The key to continuity in building enclosure systems is a careful and coordinated approach to consistent detailing. All conditions where the building form changes, where construction materials change, where joints and seams come together, or where penetrations and openings occur need to be thought through and addressed. Integrated sheathing products for wood-framed walls that provide an all-in-one, high-performance, cost-effective wall assembly solution can be a very effective way to help assure continuity of all critical building enclosure barriers. Coordinated tape, sealant, and flashing systems that integrate with other exterior wall products can prove to simplify installation, reduce the chance for construction defects, and mitigate the professional risk to everyone involved. While there are different material and product choices, the goal is the same for all: to create a highly effective and long-lasting solution for truly continuous barriers in a building enclosure.

Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, is a practicing architect, green building consultant, continuing education presenter, and prolific author engaged nationwide in advancing building performance through better design.

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Originally published in Architectural Record