Wood-framed construction is an important part of the residential housing industry, and has been so for decades. While some of the waterproofing materials and technology available to the construction industry have improved dramatically in the past 10 years, the basic precepts and many of the basic materials for waterproofing have not changed. In fact, many of these basic principles appear to have been forgotten or discarded in the wake of technological improvements. We have seen an increased reliance upon sealants, thin veneers and barrier wall waterproofing systems, and less attention paid to the importance of the underlying flashing systems. Many diverse industry organizations have attempted to set standards for installation practices as related to their own area of practice; i.e., the NRCA and SMACNA; however, there is no single source that ties these disparate standards together and binds them into a unified resource for the design professional. Our experiences in the field show that it is necessary for the design profession to take a controlling interest in waterproofing standards. When specific conditions are not detailed, builders all too often rely upon the minimum, code-compliant installation practices, which are often inadequate.
While a unified standard is required, care must be taken to insure that the standard is fair, not overly prescriptive and recognizes the contribution of individual building elements to the overall waterproofing integrity and comfort of the structure. In addition, the standard must recognize the economic restrictions often placed on residential construction. While certain waterproofing systems and materials may be desirable, they may impose an unfair economic burden upon the builder and, consequently, upon the consumer.