Product Review: DensElement Barrier System by Georgia Pacific

Moisture resistant gypsum panels have been around for more than forty years. When Georgia Pacific introduced fiberglass faced gypsum board over twenty years ago they revolutionized the sheathing industry. They have been consistently innovative and have currently released their DensElement Barrier System sheathing and teamed with Prosoco’s FastFlash for their panel joints. No doubt this system will save construction time and installation quality. But like all products there are a few refinements that need to be addressed in order to work with other envelope components.

Cladding Systems need to provide self-seal fasteners with DensElement. Normally, designers and contractors have primarily depended on the liquid air barriers for assistance in sealing their fasteners.  Screw type fasteners provide some self-seal but installers continue twisting even though they missed the stud creating air holes. 

Isolate cladding systems from DensElement. Avoid any cladding attachment or design that may trap moisture against DensElement.

Wall cavities with sloped or flat DensElement surfaces require membrane flashing to minimize ponding.  See manufacturer’s literature.

Weeping and venting of wall cavity is always a priority. Even though DEBS panel is more moisture resistant than previous sheathings it depends on limited direct moisture contact.  

Membrane flashing of fenestration openings is still a requirement for: doors, windows, louvers, etc.

Flash exterior wall penetrations such as MEP with membrane or fiber reinforced liquid flashings. Penetrations are bumped often by other trades when working around them even after the cladding is installed.

DensElement and FastFlash are a great combination in the right direction but the construction industry needs the following in order to improve construction schedules and quality. We need a sheathing panel that addresses all weather resistive barriers (continuous air, moisture and thermal)!