"It's just tape, how much does it really matter?"

"It's just tape, how much does it really matter?" Maybe you've heard this before, or maybe you've even thought this to yourself.

Let me explain. Unarguably, one of the first aspects of battling heat loss in buildings, is to make sure that as little air is being able to leave or come into the building uncontrollably. The construction industry talks of "airtightness". Uncontrolled is the key word to this.

Uncontrolled air leakages will lead to:

  • heat loss (through convection)
  • possible moisture damage in walls (moist air can condensate inside cold walls during the winter)
  • ry air inside the building (too much uncontrolled cold and dry air in the winter will lead to very dry inside climate)

At the end of the day, we do actually want fresh air to enter the building, and stale air to leave the building - for health and comfort reasons, but we want to control it as much as possible. (this is where Mr. HRV enters the scene, but that's an entirely new topic).

The next time you hear that phrase, just say "it's not just about tape, it's about airtightness, stupid" then wait for the fist to hit your face (maybe tone it down accordingly, if you value your friendships).

Good tape that is made for the specific purpose of airtightness is the solution. Very importantly is that once it is in our walls, it adheres to the surfaces for as long as the building is going to be used for. If you are building a "disposable home", just keep using tuck tape (excuse my crassness, but it's true), if you value your house and want to make sure it still stands in 100 years, I'd recommend you use "the good stuff"*.

Go deeper on this topic:

A practical guide to building airtight dwellings [pdf]

ASHRAE, Setting Airtightness Limits [pdf]

Airtightness in Passive Houses.