Although your walls account for much of your home’s protection from the elements, the walls themselves need to be protected for them to do their job properly. After all, the walls don’t just provide structure and protection, but also house electrics, plumbing, and insulation that are all vulnerable to water damage.
The main solution to this, of course, is the Weather resistive Barrier—more commonly referred to as the house wrap. Responsible for blocking out water and controlling moisture buildup in your walls, having a good house wrap is integral to a well-protected and long-lasting home.
While Tyvek is generally considered the go to option for most homeowners, house wraps from other manufacturers such as WeatherSmart are becoming more widely available. As such, we will be putting the two head to head in this comparison to help you choose between the two.
WeatherSmart is the brand name for the house wrap products made by the Henry Company, and is one part of the Fortifiber 1-2-3 Moisture Control System.
Easily recognizable by its standard shade of bright yellow, the WeatherSmart house wrap is made of a sheet of nonwoven polypropylene that has been coated with a special polymer to provide features like:
- Standards-compliant water resistance
- Built-in drainage plane
- Great resistance to UV exposure
As touched on earlier, the DuPont-made Tyvek brand is generally considered to be the industry standard when it comes to weather resistive barriers for both residential and commercial applications.
Manufactured with a unique process of spun-bonded olefin and high-density polyethylene fibers, the standard Tyvek HomeWrap offers:
- Industry-leading permeability
- Excellent external water resistance
- Special non-woven structure
WeatherSmart vs. Tyvek: Water Resistance Comparison
To kick off this comparison, let’s start with the fundamentals—namely, the water resistance of our two weather-resistive barriers. Depending on where you look, there are different standards for measuring the water resistance of house wraps; but for the sake of brevity, we will use the AATCC TM127 metric.
Based on this, we find that Tyvek is able to withstand the pressure of 280cm of water before breaking, while WeatherSmart can handle 55cm–a big win for Tyvek.
WeatherSmart vs. Tyvek: Breathability Comparison
Although it seems counterintuitive to want good breathability in a house wrap that is meant to block out water, composite materials have made both qualities attainable in modern house wrap materials. And indeed, you want breathability in your house wrap to help the walls manage its internal humidity, which can help prevent mold growth and moisture damage.
Based on the ASTM E-96 standard for Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate, which measures the breathability of a material in “perms”, Tyvek wins again here with a rating of 56 perms compared to Weathersmart’s 8 perms.
WeatherSmart vs. Tyvek: Drainage Comparison
Under normal circumstances, the house wrap is typically installed alongside a separate drainage plane to allow water ingress from rain to drain safely down and away from the home’s walls.
Unlike Tyvek HomeWrap, WeatherSmart house wraps are designed with a unique exterior surface of micro-bumps that forces water to drain downward, effectively serving as a built-in drainage plane.
WeatherSmart vs. Tyvek: Tear Resistance Comparison
Due to the generally low thickness of house wraps, tear resistance is an important consideration as it can help reduce or otherwise prevent any extra cost from torn or broken sheets that will have to be replaced.
As with water resistance, there are many different standards and testing methods one can look to to determine the tear resistance of a house wrap. Because of the nature of the two house wraps (WeatherSmart is a polymer fabric while Tyvek is a thin plastic film), WeatherSmart and Tyvek use different testing methods to determine their tear resistance:
- WeatherSmart: 55 lbs Dry Breaking Force based on ASTM D-5034 test method
- Tyvek: 30 lbs/sq. in. Breaking Strength based on ASTM D-882 test method
However, since both test methods use generally similar testing equipment to obtain their measurements, they can be considered to be comparable; as such, we give WeatherSmart the victory here.
WeatherSmart vs. Tyvek: UV Resistance Comparison
During the construction of the house, the house wrap is installed over the main wall structure but before the external cladding. As such, there exists a period of time in which the house wrap is almost completely exposed to the elements—the most damaging of which is UV exposure from the sun.
For this reason, house wraps are always given a UV exposure rating from their manufacturers. Said rating provides valuable information to contractors in terms of the timeframe they will need to complete the exterior wall covering within to ensure the performance of the house wrap stays within spec.
To this end, WeatherSmart provides a more lenient 180 days of UV exposure compared to the 120 days expressed in the specifications for Tyvek.
WeatherSmart vs. Tyvek: Cost Comparison
Cost is a pretty touchy subject to go into on a comparison guide on the Internet since prices can fluctuate wildly depending on where you live and who you will be buying your house wrap from. And this is before we get into the additional nuances of supplier and contractor discounts.
Going from market prices from multiple suppliers (and disregarding installation costs), we find that a 9-foot by 150-foot roll of Tyvek is priced in the $200+ range while WeatherSmart costs around $300 at the same size.
WeatherSmart vs. Tyvek: Warranty Comparison
As the ever-important safeguard against manufacturing defects that could cause serious problems in your home’s moisture management, the warranty shows the manufacturer’s general confidence in their products and could be used to indicate their quality (although this is not the case all the time).
Tyvek’s house wrap has a warranty period of 10 years on parts and labor, while WeatherSmart has a 2 year warranty on its house wrap. While this feels like a huge difference, WeatherSmart actually offers an extended 15 year warranty on the house wrap if it is installed alongside accompanying products in the Fortifiber 1-2-3 Moisture Control System.
WeatherSmart vs. Tyvek: Final Showdown
Based on the many angles of comparison we’ve looked at in this guide, we find that Tyvek and WeatherSmart are two fairly different house wraps.
As we noted at the beginning of this article, Tyvek is the go-to choice for a general-purpose barrier against water and moisture, with much more impressive performance on these fronts compared to WeatherSmart.
That doesn’t mean WeatherSmart should immediately be discounted—the vastly better durability and UV resistance makes it a much better option for larger projects that will have the house wrap exposed for much longer periods.