Rain Screen Wall Construction

By Robert Robillard on Design

Rain Screen Wall ConstructionRain Screen Wall

The basic rain screen wall configuration incorporates a wall drainage plane [air space] to allow moisture to drain and siding to dry from both sides.

A Rain screens layers, or wythes provide different levels of rain protection effectiveness.

What is a Rain Screen Wall?

What is usually meant by a “rain screen wall” is generally an exterior cladding with an air space cavity behind the cladding that allows moisture to drain and vented to the outside.  The inner house wall plane will have an air barrier.

The outer siding layer of cladding deflects rain and other elements while the inner wythe remains protected. The vented cavity uses gravity and flashing to drain water that penetrates the outer wall, or outside and away from vulnerable surfaces and joints. This air cavity needs to be sufficiently wide enough to avoid  surface tension and capillary action.

Rain Screen Wall Best Practice

The Best Practice for building rain screens is to ensure the wall cavity is  pressure-equalized. This means that the wall is vented at the top as well as the bottom.  This ensures that the space between the sheathing and the drainage plane maintains equalized air pressure (neither positive nor negative). If the air gap was to become pressurized, air and water would be pushed through any air leaks in the wall assembly to the home’s interior, wetting the framing, insulation, and interior walls.

Rain screens are recommended for use with brick, stucco, wood siding, and cement board siding. They are not recommended for use with vinyl siding because lengths of vinyl siding are too short to span between exterior wall studs (16” o.c.), where the furring strips are attached.

Step by step construction tips for basic rain screen construction:

1. Install house-wrap (such as DuPont Tyvek’s Drainwrap) or gas permeable building paper.

2. Install vertical furring strips. Ensure they are lined up with the studs. I prefer pressure treated plywood.

3.  Windows and doors will need to be padded out and extension jambs added before trim is re-installed.

4. Install screen materials at the bottom and top of the furring strips. Fold the screen material over the furring strips or use specially designed venting material
to create this vent.

5. Install siding over the furring strips.

Photo source: buildingscience.com


What Is A Rain Screen

Window Installation and Water Infiltration

Caulking Exterior Trim and siding

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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