Products such as BASF’s HP+ Wall System provide time-saving solutions to more than one construction issue.
Todd Detwiler Products such as BASF’s HP+ Wall System provide time-saving solutions to more than one construction issue.

There’s nothing like a product that does double or triple duty to speed up installation time and lessen costs. Smart builders have migrated to specially designed exterior sheathing products to sidestep the need for additional materials.

Huber’s ZIP System panels are a structural sheathing product that includes a built-in vapor permeable, water-resistive barrier that, when combined with seam tape, eliminates the need for any sheet- or liquid-applied barriers.

In addition, SmartSide panels from LP can serve not only as siding, but also as structural sheathing. Because the panels can be applied to walls in the down position, some builders in the Kansas City, Mo., area have been building out exterior walls—complete with siding, trim, soffit, overhangs, fascia and even entire porches—before tilt up.

“This is quite unique, and we’re in the process of trying to teach this practice to builders in other parts of the country,” says Jason Rowell, LP’s director of marketing. “This speeds up construction immensely and also eliminates a lot of the outside work that typically must be done from ladders.”

Huber’s sheathing typically costs around $4 to $5 more than standard OSB, and LP SmartSide, which sells for roughly $30 per 4-foot-by-8-foot panel, may forgo the need for sheathing.

In addition to dual-purpose sheathing, a new multipurpose wall system from BASF reduces the amount of lumber needed to build a home while beefing up insulation, air sealing, and moisture control. The HP+ Wall System combines three of the company’s insulation products to deliver control of heat, air, and moisture and increased structural integrity.

The design capacity of a wall built with the system is up to 135% greater than that of a wall built with standard construction methods, according to BASF.

Emily Van Court, technical project adviser and architectural consultant for BASF’s Center for Building Excellence, says the system allows builders to use standard 2x4 construction spaced 24 inches on-center, as well as single top plates and reduced framing around windows, which helps offset the cost for upgrading to spray foam insulation. The complete system addresses thermal bridging issues, while providing R-34 levels of insulation.

Wisconsin green builder Tim O’Brien says the HP+ Wall System has helped his firm lower construction costs while providing a superior building envelope. “Overall, this experience has shown us how we can achieve higher performance at a price point that delivers outstanding value to our customers,” he says.