• Building Envelope 101: Everything You Need to Know

    Moisture damage is one of the top litigated aspects of construction today. The building envelope is the first line of defense against the elements for any residential structure. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity, energy efficiency, and comfort of a home.

    Keene Building Products, a leading provider of innovative building accessories, dedicates itself to revolutionizing the way we approach building envelope solutions. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into everything you need to know about building envelope in residential construction.

    What is a Building Envelope?

    In recent years commercial and single-family residential construction techniques have changed. Today, tightening the structures to prevent thermal leakage is a common practice. This can be attributed to the demand for energy efficiency. This change in the construction process has led to less air infiltration, which has contributed to moisture problems.

    The building envelope, often referred to as the "skin" of a building, consists of the walls, roof, windows, doors, and foundation. Its main job is to protect the inside of a building from things like rain, wind, humidity, and changes in temperature. A well-designed and properly installed building envelope not only protects the structure but also contributes to energy efficiency and indoor comfort.

    Importance of a Reliable Building Envelope

    A reliable building envelope design is essential for several reasons:

    Energy Efficiency

    The building envelope is the frontline defense against energy loss. Prioritizing its construction with a focus on insulation, airtight seals, and energy-efficient materials can significantly reduce your building's energy consumption. This not only aligns with sustainable practices but also translates into tangible cost savings. A well-insulated and tightly sealed envelope minimizes heat transfer, creating a more comfortable indoor environment and reducing the need for excessive heating or cooling. Over time, the initial investment in an energy-efficient building envelope pays off through lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

    Preserving Structural Integrity

    The building envelope serves as a guardian, shielding your property from the ravages of weather, including rain, snow, wind, and UV rays. By prioritizing its construction, you are investing in the longevity and structural integrity of your building. A well-designed envelope prevents moisture intrusion, a common culprit behind mold growth and structural decay. Prioritizing quality materials and construction practices ensures that your property remains resilient against the elements, reducing the frequency and cost of maintenance and repairs over the building's lifespan.

    Occupant Comfort and Productivity

    A properly constructed building envelope directly influences the comfort and well-being of the occupants. Airtight seals and insulation not only regulate temperature but also contribute to soundproofing, creating a tranquil indoor environment. Comfortable and quiet spaces have a direct impact on occupant satisfaction and productivity. By prioritizing the building envelope, you create a conducive atmosphere that fosters concentration, creativity, and overall well-being among the occupants.

    Cost-Effective Sustainability

    Prioritizing the building envelope aligns with sustainable construction practices, making your property more environmentally friendly. Energy-efficient materials, coupled with eco-conscious construction techniques, contribute to a reduced carbon footprint. As environmental sustainability gains prominence in the real estate market, prioritizing a green building envelope not only reflects your commitment to the planet but also positions your property as an attractive option for environmentally conscious investors and tenants.

    Futureproofing Your Investment

    In an ever-evolving construction landscape, prioritizing the building envelope is a savvy strategy for future-proofing your investment. As building codes and energy efficiency standards continue to evolve, having a well-constructed envelope ensures that your property remains compliant with current regulations and is positioned to meet future requirements. This proactive approach safeguards your investment against potential obsolescence and enhances the property's long-term value.


    Section R703 of the 2021 IRC has changed how building envelope systems are used in residential construction

    Current building codes require new homes in the U.S. to have drainage and ventilation mats in their walls. This requirement is outlined in the 2021 International Residential Code (IRC) Section R703.

    The IRC mandates proper ventilation mats to promote air circulation, reducing condensation and improving energy efficiency, and to manage moisture by creating space for water to drain away from the wall assembly, preventing issues like mold and rot. Builders and developers are embracing these code requirements to ensure the durability and performance of their structures, recognizing the benefits of enhanced moisture management, improved indoor air quality, and increased thermal efficiency that these mats bring to modern residential construction.


    Primary components of the building envelope

    Walls and Siding

    Building envelope installed between walls and siding eliminates incidental moisture problems in most exterior veneer applications, including stucco, manufactured stone, and plank siding.

    This category includes products such as Driwall™ LathNet, Driwall™ Rainscreen, CAV-AIR-ATOR®, KeeneStone® Cut, Driwall™ Air Weather Barrier, KeeneSeal 100, Driwall™ Mortar Deflection, Driwall™ Weep Screed, Driwall™ Membrane, Driwall™ Weep Vents, and Easy-Fur™.


    Proper ventilation and insulation are crucial for a well-functioning roof. A drainage and ventilation mat designed to eliminate moisture and moisture vapor in roofing and siding applications is useful in cedar shingle/shake roofing and siding where a clean airspace is desired for ventilation and drainage.

    This category includes VIPER CDR VENT™, VIPER INTAKE VENT™, and VIPER RIDGE VENT™.


    Waterproofing and proper drainage around the foundation will prevent water from seeping into the basement or crawl space. A high-performance drainage mat engineered to relieve hydrostatic pressure by creating an exit channel for water will aid in drainage of excess moisture and ventilation.

    Another component of the foundation's building envelope is a vapor barrier. Use a vapor barrier to stop moisture and harmful vapors from the ground around a house. It directs them to an exhaust stack, which safely removes them through the roof. 

    Some Keene products included in this category are Driwall™ Membrane, Driwall™ Prefabricated Composite Drain (PCD), TriDent™ Dimple Drain (DD), and VAPORMAT™.


    Keene Building Products' innovative solutions

    At Keene Building Products, we understand the critical role that building envelope plays in residential construction. Our innovative solutions are designed to enhance the performance and longevity of building envelopes, providing superior moisture management, ventilation, and insulation.

    Driwall™ Rainscreen

    Keene Building Product’s Driwall™ Rainscreen products create a space between the exterior cladding and the building envelope, allowing for drainage and ventilation. This prevents moisture buildup and promotes drying, extending the life of the structure.

    Keene Driwall™ Rainscreen surpasses the 2021 IRC Exterior Plaster (stucco) code change with its remarkable drainage efficiency of over 90% according to ASTM E2273 & Annex 2 of ASTM E2925. This high-performance feature will allow our thinnest mat, Driwall™ Rainscreen 013-1 (1/8”) to be code compliant in Moist (A) and Marine (C) Climates Zones. (R703.7.3.2 – 2021 IRC). Keene Driwall™ Rainscreen is also compliant in Dry (B) Climate Zone. 

    DriWall™ Lathnet

    DriWall™ LathNet is a metal mesh and drainage system that creates a barrier for water between the mesh and weather barrier. The Masonry Advisory Council suggests using a drainage mat in exterior masonry walls to remove water that gets past the flashing. You should attach a galvanized expanded metal lath, or diamond mesh, on top of the drainage mat. DriWall Lathnet provides faster installation and fewer wall penetrations than installing a drainage plane and lath separately.


    Easy-Fur™ is a special strip that goes behind siding to help with ventilation and water protection. It's made of polymer net. Easy-Fur is designed for quick installation. It can be rolled onto the wall and cut to size easily, making it the fastest furring strip to install.

    Driwall™ Membrane

    Driwall™ Membrane is Easy-Fur™ is a self-adhering flashing and waterproofing membrane. It provides a self-adhered waterproofing membrane in above and below grade applications such as concrete foundation walls, plaza decks, balconies, tunnels, and breezeways.

    Driwall™ PCD

    Driwall™ Prefabricated Composite Drain (PCD) is a nominal, “zig-zag,” geometric patterned core drainage mat designed to eliminate hydrostatic pressure from behind foundation walls, retaining walls, planters, plaza decks, and balconies.

    The product is produced from an extruded polymer matrix of tangled monofilaments, which are heat-welded at the junctions to form a resilient structure. This product utilizes a non-woven geotextile filter fabric to hold the soil or concrete away from the wall or deck and the core.

    When using Driwall™ PCD, aggregate for drainage can be eliminated from a construction site.

    TriDent™ DD

    TriDent™ Dimple Drain (DD) is a high-performance drainage mat engineered to relieve hydrostatic pressure by creating an exit channel for liquid water. Utilizing a two-layer system, TriDent™ DD provides the user with a high-strength product used for applications in both below-grade foundations and foundation walls. The first layer is constructed of a high strength, moisture impermeable, cuspated (dimpled) polystyrene sheet designed to provide superior compressive strength. Adhered to the high strength, cuspated polymer base is a nonwoven, polypropylene filter fabric. The filter fabric works in conjunction with the HIPS sheet to promote a high-water flow while preventing silt, dirt, and concrete from penetrating the drainage channel. 


    VAPORMAT™ is a highly adaptable venting system used to collect radon, moisture and other toxic vapors coming from the soil around a house and direct them toward an exhaust stack, which leads them safely out through the roof. 

    It works effectively as part of a passive soil depressurization system (PSD) or a fan can be added to the exhaust stack for an active soil depressurization system (ASD).


    VIPER CDR VENT™ is a drainage and ventilation mat designed to eliminate moisture and moisture vapor in roofing and siding applications. It is useful in cedar shingle/shake roofing and siding where a clean airspace is desired for ventilation and drainage.


    VIPER INTAKE VENT™ is a patented, lightweight vent that provides an industry leading 7.5 square inches of net free vent area (NFVA) per linear foot (7.5 in²/LF).


    VIPER RIDGE VENT™ is  a patented, lightweight ridge vent that provides an industry leading 15 square inches of net free vent area (NFVA) per linear foot (15 in²/LF).


    Real Projects, Real Results

    To illustrate the effectiveness of our building envelope solutions, here are three real-world examples:

    Massive Metro Crossing Project with Driwall™ Rainscreen

    Six truckloads of Keene's Driwall™ Rainscreen 020-1 were delivered to the biggest rainscreen project our organization has ever seen! This incredible Metro Crossing Project covers over one city block, MASSIVE! 

    Midway Village Redevelopment Project with Easy-Fur™

    Keene Building Products is happy that Easy-Fur™ was chosen for the Midway Village project in Daly City, California. The project started in 2021 and included 147 affordable apartments for families and young adults. 

    Open Joint Cladding Project with Driwall™ Rainscreen UV 040

    At Therma-Tru Doors HQ, contractors wanted to add a rainscreen system with composite cladding for a modern look. The contractor chose our Driwall™ Rainscreen UV because it is easy to install, durable, and a great for open joint cladding with a 3/8" space.


    Contact Keene Building Products about your next residential construction project

    A well-designed and properly maintained building envelope is essential for the long-term health and performance of residential structures. Keene Building Products is committed to providing innovative solutions that protect, enhance, and improve building envelopes in construction projects across the country.

    For more information about our building envelope solutions and how they can benefit your next residential project, contact us. And keep an eye on our blog for more construction tips and trends.

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