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Roofing Dominates Demand
Demand for weather-resistant barriers reached $4 billion in the North American market in 2014, according to Principia. Residential projects accounted for nearly 80% of demand with 85% of residential projects using weather-resistant barriers of some type within the building envelope, compared to 70% for commercial buildings.
Nevertheless, for both residential and commercial buildings, roofs account for the bulk of demand due to the frequency of replacing underlayment weather resistant barriers during reroofing. Demand for the wall segment is lower due to the fewer number of residing projects compared to reroofing as well as the frequency of replacement during residing projects.
Interestingly weather resistant barriers for walls command higher prices, in the aggregate, than those used for roofs and 17% of total annual value, whereas roof underlayment accounts for 83% of the industry value.

New Products Making Inroads
More than half of all contractors use housewrap of some kind in their construction projects, regardless of whether residential or commercial construction. A rapidly growing product is pre-wrapped sheathing which combines an OSB sheathing for walls or roofs with a pre-adhered barrier. Over 20% of contractors report having used such a product within the last year. In commercial construction, fluid applied membranes and newer drainable systems are seeing more widespread use along with building papers.

Selection Criteria Differs Between Residential and Commercial
Residential contractors rely on historical product performance and manufacturer reputation to drive their product choice. The story is a bit different when looking at the commercial picture; selection is always driven by product performance and specifications. Fluid applied products, rainscreens and wraps dominate, but more building papers and non-permeable membranes are used in the western region of the United States.

Manufacturers can take heart, because product performance is also the top criteria used to select brands, followed by the manufacturer’s reputation for quality and level of technical service and support, consistent availability and then price. Most contractors are very loyal to specific weather resistant barrier types and brands to the point of working to influence these selections on their construction projects. Most contractors believe they are successful at influencing the products used in a project, so manufacturers can benefit from educating contractors on key benefits of weather resistant barriers and proper installation methods. Dealers should also pay attention, as three-quarters of contractors would switch dealers if their dealer no longer carried their preferred brand.