One of the most important design decisions that we make in every project is the material selection for a building’s exterior envelope. Offering protection from the elements, it also determines visual identity through color, texture, and variation. Performance, visual appearance, and maintenance requirements vary with each material option, whether it is stucco, masonry, or wood. Knowing the implications of each system helps achieve desired results.
On a recent project we used a wood rainscreen system for both its performance qualities and aesthetic appearance. Wood rainscreens differ from traditional wood siding in that they introduce a drainage plane between the vapor barrier and the cladding. This drainage plane allows air to circulate behind the wood cladding, thus allowing the whole system to dry out quickly. Any water or moisture that makes its way behind the wood will drain out or evaporate. For this system to work properly, there must be ventilation at both the top and bottom.
The system is made up of multiple layers that function together. The innermost layer is the vapor barrier applied over the sheathing. The middle layer is the battens that form the drainage plane (3/8” minimum), and lastly comes the wood itself.