The Tom Cruise Wall

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As my friend Mac Pierce likes to point out: you could get a blindfolded drunk epileptic to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire without a net, but it wouldn’t be a good idea. There are some wall assemblies that are like that. One in particular irritates me. It has lead to a great deal of grief. It has problems that can easily be avoided. But simple analysis shows it works, and that is the rub. The simple analysis shows that it works, but the real world shows that it does not.

It gets better. More complicated analysis shows that it sometimes works, and truth be told, the real world shows that it also sometimes works. No moisture and exceptional workmanship can make it work. What are the odds? Clint Eastwood thermodynamics again: do you feel lucky punk? Well, do you?

So what does this wall look like? I am not sure what to call it. It has a face-sealed cladding (“perfect barrier”) that is impermeable to water vapor. It is insulated on the interior with air permeable insulation usually held in place between steel studs or impaled on pins protruding from the back of the cladding and covered by a vapor barrier. Let’s call it a “Tom Cruise Wall.”

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