Defining and testing construction tape and flashing durability

Every layer matters in a building’s water-resistive barrier or air barrier, so the importance of tapes cannot be overstated. Common in construction, tape failures lead to costly repairs. The testing confirmed typical field observations—when installed well, most tapes perform acceptably, a few are exceptional, but some perform very poorly.

The industry needs standard test methods reflective of tape conditions in the field. Most current methods load tapes in unrepresentative manner or are impractical to perform. The test developed for this study simulates the forces tapes experience in construction better than other methods.

A few techniques and best practices to improve the durability of tapes were illuminated by this study. Even if the best tapes are specified, installation is critical. One should use compatible primers when provided by the manufacturer, especially on OSB sheathing. Pressure should be applied with a roller in all situations. Tapes should only be used with the recommended substrates and WRBs.

Additionally, specifiers must be aware of performance limitations of tapes in WRB and air barrier applications, including their ability to adhere to substrates and adhesion to a tape’s own carrier material. Where possible, one should specify the ‘smooth’ side of OSB as outward-facing to optimize adhesion by tapes.

Anthony M. Garcia, PE, is a project engineer with Building Diagnostics Inc., specializing in the investigation of problems with existing buildings, designing remedies for those problems, and monitoring the construction of the remedies. He participates in the research being performed at The Durability Lab, a testing center established by Building Diagnostics at The University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached by e-mail at

Jorge M. Blanco is a graduate student studying Civil Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He serves as a graduate research assistant for The Durability Lab, which researches and tests the durability of building components, identifying factors causing premature failure. He can be reached via e-mail at


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6 comments on “Defining and testing construction tape and flashing durability”

  1. I really like the subject matter, but I feel like I just watched Star Wars Return of the Jedi (I left with more questions than before). I need names folks. Which products should I use and which should I avoid? I want to do a great job for my clients, but what is the point of this article if the results and conclusions are not published? -Frustrated and annoyed

    1. Which flashing tape worked best on OSB. My home is in Ontario with temperatures ranging from -40 F to 100F. I have cedar shiplap siding. I am replacing an exterior, west facing door and window.

  2. I also am interested in the results, would like to avoid building failure into my next project. How can we get the results of the tests?

  3. “Only 95 specimens (26 percent) reached the cutoff time of 30 days without failure” and we won’t even name one for you. What’s the point of this experiment if you don’t share your results?

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