Building technology has come a long way in a short period of time. In the decades after World War II, mass housing was the driver, finding ways to provide for the returning veterans and their families. In some cases, short cuts were taken that showed up later as major problems. As the industry finds problems, however, companies find answers.
As an example, no building engineer today would consider erecting a commercial building without a continuous, full air barrier system. This was not the situation prior to the 1980s. The need to eliminate or control air infiltration/exfiltration through wall assemblies to maximize energy efficiency and prevent moisture problems was not well recognized throughout the industry.
Often, asphalt-saturated felt paper was used simply as a water-resistive barrier. Eventually, concerns about energy conservation and materials durability—and increased awareness of the role of air infiltration in building health and efficiency—led to new standards for air barriers. Starting in 1985, Canada introduced air barrier requirements in the NBCC (National Building Code of Canada), specifying that “…the assembly shall be designed to provide an effective barrier to air exfiltration and infiltration, at a location that will prevent condensation within the assembly.”
Some U.S. states instituted their own requirements, such as Massachusetts, which requires a continuous air barrier from foundation to roof to control air leakage. Unfortunately, early air barrier products did not fully live up to the goal of preventing air leakage. While spun polyolefin building wraps mechanically attached to the sheathing became common, they did not provide a truly continuous barrier, allowing air leakage at seams and joints. In addition, they were often damaged or dislodged when exposed to the elements prior to the installation of cladding.
Applying a Better Barrier
To address this issue, some architects and construction contractors started applying an adhesive, sheet-applied product with proven waterproofing properties to wall assemblies. That product was BITUTHENE Post-Applied Waterproofing developed by GCP Applied Technologies, still one of the most widely used waterproofing membranes in the world. This provided a continuous, durable membrane with strong adhesive properties. But it was not specifically engineered to control air movement through wall assemblies.
GCP then developed its PERM-A-BARRIER family of wall membrane systems. All PERM-A-BARRIER products are developed as components of a single, integrated system comprising membrane, wall flashing, detail membrane, sealant, and (if required) primer. All system components have been tested to validate compatibility, ensuring that the membrane will adhere well not only to the substrate, but to the membrane itself at critical interfaces, such as laps and penetrations—not just on the day of installation, but over the life of the building.
As a market leader, GCP Applied Technologies has established itself in cement additives, concrete admixtures, infrastructure, and commercial and residential building materials. This success was recently recognized by international construction materials company Saint-Gobain. Saint-Gobain has acquired all the outstanding shares of GCP Applied Technologies for $32.00 per share, in cash, in a transaction valued at approximately $2.3 billion.
GCP’s well-respected brands and decades of experience will integrate with Saint-Gobain’s CertainTeed and Chryso businesses. GCP’s specialty building materials business in North America will merge with the CertainTeed business, serving the marketplace in its Region. All other GCP businesses, consisting mainly of concrete admixtures and cement additives will be combined with the Chryso business and be part of its High-Performance Solutions segment.
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