This is what you need to know about rain screens.

Do I need a rain screen?

I’m often asked by my clients, “What about rainscreen, do I need that?” and my answer varies according to the situation from which it’s asked as there’s no “one size fits all” way to approach this question.

Lets start by identifying what Rainscreen IS, and Isn’t. To begin, RAINSCREEN is not a “product”, but a “System” which utilizes a number of different products to achieve its desired effect. The “Rainscreen System” is designed to allow moisture and condensation that finds its way between the buildings envelope (Tarpaper/Tyvek Building Wrap) and Cladding (Siding/Brick/Stone/Stucco) a gravity induced path to escape the wall, as well as facilitating proper pressure-equalised air flow to encourage passage of humidity through the wall system. Proper sealing and Flashing of wall penetrations is also critical to the success of the Rainscreen System.

Generic Rainscreen for Siding / Cladding
Generic Rainscreen for Siding / Cladding

So, Do You Need It?

Maybe, maybe not…..we recently were contracted to perform an emergency leak remediation on a Muti-Family STRATA Complex that’s slated for redevelopment in the near future.The buildings were originally done in cedar siding 30 years ago when rainscreen systems were undeveloped. As a matter of fact, exterior envelope standards didn’t even exist until relatively recently, and one could have considered it the “Wild West” of the construction Industry for many, many years.

I was asked if we should employ a Rainscreen System with the repair. The answer here was NO, to piece meal a rainscreen system on a wall here and there would have little to no benefit for the structure. If the buildings were NOT going to be demolished, I would most certainly have suggested a complete restoration of the entire building envelope as mutiple envelope failures were evident throughout the complex and deterioration was approaching “Warp Speed”

I’ve had clients ask us to include a Rainscreen System with their Vinyl Siding Renovation, and again, the answer is, it’s unneccessary. Horizontal Vinyl Siding is considered to have a Rainscreen System “Built In” as it sits off the wall providing adequate passage of moisture and air flow.

When it comes to Fibre Cement/Hardie Siding (James Hardie Products) we em>ALWAYS RECOMMEND a RAINSCEEN SYSTEM, in fact James Hardie “Best Practices” REQUIRES an Active Rainscreen System for Warranty Protection. Failure to utilise a proper Rainscreen System will VOID the Warranty and leave you on the hook for costly repairs should your siding fail.

To Summarize Rainscreen Requirements

  • Horizontal Vinyl Siding/Shingle – NO
  • Verticle/ B&B Vinyl Siding – YES
  • Horizontal/Verticle Cedar Siding – YES
  • Cedar Shingle Over Heated Airspace – YES
  • Cedar Shingle Over Non Heated Airspace – NO
  • James Hardie Fibre Cement Siding – YES
  • Multi Family Projects All Siding – YES
  • Typical Minor Cladding/Siding Repairs on Older Structures – NO

Of course this is a brief rundown on Rainscreen Systems and whether or not you may need it, generally speaking. Your specific situation is unique, and we would be happy to discuss your particular rainscreen requirements.

Feel Free to give us a call or leave a comment and we’ll do our best to help answer your questions, and if we can’t answer it, we’ll get the answer for you!!