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Airtight Drywall Approach

Advantages of an Airtight Drywall Approach.


Airtight Drywall Approach
Photo By Shister

Airtight Drywall Approach

The airtight drywall approach forms an air barrier connecting the interior finish of drywall and other building materials to form a continuous barrier that protects the interior of the structure. The airtight drywall approach is a relatively new technique providing a cost-effective method reducing infiltration and heat transfer as well as reducing moisture dust and insects from entering the building.

Airtight Drywall Installation

An airtight drywall installation requires that most of the seams are sealed by tape and joint compound. The airtight drywall installation is intended to protect the following areas:

  • Between the edges of drywall and the top and bottom plates of exterior walls.
  • Inside the attic or basement between the framing and drywall of partition walls.
  • Between the window and door frames and drywall.
  • Through openings in the drywall for utilities and other services

The airtight drywall installation recommends using either caulk or gaskets to seal these areas and make the drywall a continuous airtight system.

Airtight Drywall Approach Advantages

Using an airtight drywall approach provides the following benefits:

  • Is an effective method to produce a reliable air barrier system.
  • Using an airtight drywall approach is a simple construction method that does not require specialized labor or subcontractors.
  • The airtight drywall approach does not require unusual construction techniques.
  • Materials used on an airtight drywall approach are easily accessible.
  • Using the airtight drywall approach does not prevent the drywall from being glued to the face of studs and joists.
  • Gaskets can be installed between the house when is ‘dried-in’ and the drywall is attached to framing.
  • Some caulks can remain pliable and applied several days before the drywall is finally installed.
  • The airtight drywall approach could be easily adapted to fit almost any design and schedule to fit most construction schedules.
  • ADA is simple and could be accomplished without producing errors.
  • Materials and labor for standard designs do not introduce higher costs, as a matter of example gasket costs vary between 20 to 25 cents per foot.

Airtight Drywall Approach Drawbacks

Airtight drywall approach advantages are not widely used due to misinformation and building professionals and code officials are not familiar with its use. ADA methods present the following drawbacks:

  • Airtight drywall approach requires a separate vapor barrier. Faced insulation batts, plastic or vapor barrier can work extremely well with ADA.
  • Requires that the air barrier remains continuous, otherwise, the drywall approach will be wasted.
  • Trades performing after the barrier have been installed could damage gaskets and caulking forming part of the drywall approach.

Airtight Drywall Approach Techniques

The airtight drywall approach technique could be used in the following scenarios:

Wood Floors

Using ADA on wood floors requires that:

  1. . The rim joist must be sealed to reduce air currents around the floor insulation. When using the ADA technique on multistory buildings, remember to seal all rim joists.
  2. The sill plate must be sealed in crawlspaces and basements.
  3. Pieces between subflooring must be sealed.

Slab Floors

  1. An airtight drywall approach on slab floor requires sealing all expansion joints and floor openings with concrete sealants or similar product.

Exterior Walls

  1. Seal top and bottom plates of exterior walls by installing gaskets or applying caulk, forming an airtight framing system.
  2. Form an airtight drywall system by sealing between drywall and electrical boxes. These should be sealed with joint compound or caulk.
  3. Install gaskets behind cover plates.
  4. Provide for vapor barrier installation.
  5. Seal between the bottom plate and subflooring.
  6. Seal plumbing, wiring and ducts penetrations through top and bottom plates.

Partition Walls

  1. Seal top or bottom plate of partition walls.
  2. When ductwork intersects on partition and exterior walls, it must be sealed properly.
  3. Seal plumbing, wiring and ducts penetrations through the top and bottom plates.

Windows And Doors

  1. Seal drywall jambs edges on windows and doors.
  2. Install foam backer rod and caulk on rough openings.
  3. Caulk window and door trim to drywall.


  1. Seal the junction between the ceiling and walls.
  2. Use continuous drywall sheets for the ceiling and walls to minimize seams.
  3. Seal all penetrations in the ceiling.
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