WRB Durability Test- revisited

A conversation with David H. Nicastro, P.E.

 

 

On January 29, 2015, David H. Nicastro, P.E. and his graduate assistant, Beth Anne Freero, EIT, published a compelling research study in The Construction Specifier titled, “Durability of Water-Resistive Barriers”

This article is based on the analytical study of 17 different water-resistive barrier (WRB) products (in addition to other WRB products researched but not tested). They were observed over time to establish the durability of those materials exposed and then concealed behind cladding. One of the WRBs involved in this study is the PROSOCO R-Guard Cat 5 system, and for that reason, we caught up with Mr. Nicastro to discuss his research and findings.

Below are excerpts from our interview:

PROSOCO:

David, as the founder of Building Diagnostics and The Durability Lab, the testing center established by Building Diagnostics at The University of Texas at Austin, you have recently done some compelling exposure testing on various WRBs. What was the goal of your testing and product evaluation?

Nicastro:

Our goal is to help the construction industry obtain more durable products and prevent premature failure caused by selecting the wrong products, relying on inaccurate information, or allowing improper installation.

 

Generally, PROSOCO’s testing is way out in front of others. There is only one other company that has visited our lab as much as PROSOCO and has been as open to sharing research and testing as PROSOCO.

 

PROSOCO:

In your article, you noted that the top half of all samples were covered with cladding when the manufacturers’ written exposure limit was reached. The bottom half has remained exposed indefinitely. What was your impression of the overall performance of the various products, and specifically the Cat 5 system, after reaching exposure limits?

 

Nicastro:

I would decline to comment on the outcome of a singular product by name, but several products showed degradation in a lower solar exposure part of the year. They started in the fall and would have done worse starting in spring, so their exposure limits are unrealistic. By overexposing a portion, we see what the breakdown mechanism looks like and can recognize it in the protected portion of the mock-up. When we remove the cladding and find similar degradation, we know what we are looking for.

 

PROSOCO:

There has been significant reporting, in various forms of media, since this testing has taken place at The Durability Lab. What are your thoughts on how the results have been represented online and in writing?

Nicastro:

We never publish findings by brand. We are looking for behavior of materials and trends, so to talk about behavior of an individual product would mean information was taken out of context. At The Durability Lab, we’re developing new test methods. If there is an established test method, it would be far cheaper to send samples to a lab to run that standard test. We spend years researching behavior, then developing a test to try to determine that behavior. So if someone says a product failed our test, then that is also taken out of context. We’re just exploring how to measure the behavior of these materials. That said, we love having visitors and they are welcome to draw their own conclusions from the materials we show them.

 

PROSOCO:

Over the years and throughout this testing, you have worked with multiple manufacturers. How do you feel PROSOCO compares to other manufacturers in the construction chemicals industry?

 

Nicastro:

Generally, PROSOCO’s testing is way out in front of others. There are only a few companies that are comparable to PROSOCO in the product testing that is done. There is only one other company that has visited our lab as much as PROSOCO and has been as open to sharing research and testing as PROSOCO.

 

PROSOCO:

From your initial findings, we at PROSOCO have made changes to enhance our UV exposure capability and free radical degradation, so we truly appreciate your shared findings.

 

Nicastro:

Thank you, I am quite gratified that our information is being valued by a manufacturing company.”

 

 

David H. Nicastro, P.E., F.ASTM, is a licensed professional engineer specializing in the durability of building materials. He analyzes existing buildings and designs remedies. He is the founder of Building Diagnostics, Engineering Diagnostics, and The Durability Lab, a testing center housed at The University of Texas at Austin to study the durability of building components, identifying factors causing premature failure. Mr. Nicastro is the past chairman of ASTM Committee C24 on Building Seals and Sealants, and has published over 50 articles and books on durability and failure of building materials.

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