Trufast® — Building Envelope Attachment Solutions

Sponsored Feature by Trufast® Walls

Jason Wigboldy / August 2021

Screws, washers, anchors, adhesives … sounds like a riveting article, eh? Those of you who are actively involved in construction or the design community understand the benefits of a smartly engineered and purpose designed solution that makes your job easier, performs better and ensures your client’s satisfaction for the long haul. Perhaps no other fastener manufacturer in the world knows this better than Altenloh, Brinck & Co. based in Ennepetal, Germany, and with U.S. manufacturing and engineering development operations based in Bryan, Ohio, and Grand Rapids, Mich. Founded as the first German industrial manufacturer of screws nearly 200 years ago, Altenloh, Brinck & Co. remains focused on providing industry leading attachment solutions for various construction applications. Altenloh, Brinck & Co. is most recognized globally for the SPAX® brand of premium wood connections, as well as the Trufast® brand of attachment solutions focused on the North American market. SPAX® and Trufast® products are primarily manufactured in the USA and Germany. Trufast® has two distinct divisions: Trufast® Roofing, which provides commercial roofing attachment solutions, and Trufast® Walls that focuses on industry leading attachment solutions for exterior wall assemblies. The Trufast® Walls division was recently rebranded from the niche Rodenhouse Inc. name, which is well recognized throughout the AWCI industry. Trufast® Walls continues to expand its operations and portfolio of solutions to address evolving energy codes and the demand for high performance wall systems.

Several trends are apparent in the exterior wall market including the requirement for an air barrier as well as continuous insulation to meet certain energy codes. An air barrier is a system of materials designed and constructed to control the airflow between a conditioned and an unconditioned space. Continuous insulation is defined by the IECC as “insulation that is continuous across all structural members without thermal-bridges other than fasteners and service openings.” Trufast® Walls has recognized opportunities to develop unique solutions that address long term energy performance and durability. An example of a shift in how we build our walls is the integration of weather resistive air barriers combined with the exterior sheathing. Various manufacturers of sheathing now provide a systemized approach with a factory applied air barrier to the outer surface or core of the exterior gypsum or wood sheathing. Additionally, manufacturers of rigid insulation have developed systemized solutions that enable the layer of insulation sheathing to perform multiple duties including air barrier, weather resistive barrier (WRB), and continuous insulation. All of these WRB/air barrier integrated sheathing scenarios benefit from engineered and tested attachment solutions that prevent air and water from leaking through the fastener penetrations. An example solution from Trufast® Walls is the Thermal-Grip® ci prong washer with Grip-Deck® ceramic coated screws that is tested, recommended or specified by every major manufacturer of continuous insulation to provide permanent mechanical attachment while preserving air and weather barrier performance.

Not all exterior wall designs have converted to air barrier/WRB integrated sheathings. Some designers still prefer the robust design performance of separate layers including mechanically attached building wraps. For these applications Trufast® Walls has developed the Thermal-Grip FastCap® that enables rapid attachment into wood or steel stud substrates with the use of an optional auto-feed screw gun system.

Another industry trend is the now-common use of continuous insulation on the exterior building envelope used to combat thermal bridging of the building frame. Mechanical attachment is most commonly utilized to combat the effects of gravity, wind and thermal expansion to keep the insulation secured permanently. Furthermore, different types of rigid insulation including XPS, EPS, polyiso and mineral wool often require unique attachment solutions to optimize energy performance and reduce moisture penetration of the air barrier. No one in the industry understands these nuanced design details better than the team at Trufast® Walls. Multiple attachment solutions have been developed to address the need of insulation attachment while preserving the integrity of the air and weather barrier including the Grip-Deck TubeSeal® fastener. This simple yet effective solution combines the screw and washer with a semi-rigid tube that punches through the insulation layer and then compresses between the surface of the air barrier and the underside of the washer to completely seal the fastener penetration against air and water. This new solution has proven extremely effective in solving the challenge of “blind fastener penetrations” and is now a specified and required attachment solution within the Power-of-Two warranty from Dupont®.

Yet another trend in the exterior wall industry is the growing use of mineral wool insulation as a continuous layer of exterior insulation. Though mineral wool possesses some unique benefits, it also poses a challenge to effectively secure while also preserving the integrity of the air barrier. The fibrous nature of mineral wool coupled with the smaller size panels compared to rigid insulation means there is a greater chance that moisture will reach the air and weather barrier layer located behind the mineral wool. Faced with this challenge many installers of mineral wool turn to adhesively applied stick pins adopted from the HVAC industry; however, this is not a suitable long-term attachment solution as the stick pins and insulation will eventually peel away from the air barrier significantly reducing or eliminating the effective R-value of the assembly. Trufast® Walls developed the Grip-Lok® MW plate to enable permanent mechanical attachment prior to the insulation being impaled onto the plate. The Grip-Lok® MW plate is versatile by enabling the applicator to either shoot it, screw it or nail it to virtually any substrate including wood, steel or masonry/concrete.

Trufast® Walls is not only focused on energy performance but also labor-saving solutions. Rapid attachment of insulation, building wrap or lath helps save time and money. A great example of labor-saving solutions is the new Thermal-Grip® Insulation Pinner Tool and fasteners designed to rapidly attach insulation panels to masonry or concrete substrates. Fuel-cell powered guns are available for multiple densities of concrete, block or brick, and fasteners are available to attach insulation ranging from 1 inch to 6 inches thick. This is a great solution for attaching insulation to basement walls, crawlspaces, CMU walls or concrete tilt walls.

Seeing opportunities for advancement further outside the wall, Trufast® Walls has developed cladding attachment solutions that also address the need for self-sealing of the air barrier. An example is the Grip-Deck TubeSeal® fastener (mentioned earlier) that can be combined with the Grip-Plate® Lath & Plaster washer, which enables lath for stucco or stone veneer to be secured over continuous insulation, through the air barrier and into the substrate all while sealing off the fastener penetration at the air and weather barrier. This is a significant advancement in the adhered masonry market as the high quantity of required lath fasteners historically lead to a much greater chance of failure due to moisture migration through the building envelope.

For brick veneer cavity wall applications Trufast® Walls has developed the Thermal-Grip® MVA anchor. This masonry veneer anchor is uniquely designed to address the concerns of air and moisture penetration of the air and weather barrier, along with reducing thermal bridging through the use of advanced materials including polycarbonate and stainless steel. The barrel style brick anchor has an inner wedge-shape seal that draws the air and weather barrier layer into tight compression when installed, therefore sealing against air and water. The polycarbonate anchor design also separates the embedded wire tie from the screw greatly reducing thermal bridging of the anchor through the exterior building envelope.

With their attention to details and their technical approach to attachment solutions, Trufast® Walls has earned a strong reputation as the leading solutions provider in the exterior wall market. Partnerships and collaborative development with leading insulation, air barrier and component manufacturers has helped nurture the industry trend toward systemization of the exterior wall market. A single fastener penetration or thermal bridge might not seem significant on its own, but when tens of thousands of fasteners or anchors penetrate the exterior building envelope, it amounts to a significant issue that leads to energy loss, leaks and a reduction in long-term durability of the building. No one in the industry understands this better than Trufast® Walls, and their technical support team is standing by to assist on your next exterior wall project. Please contact their technical support team at (616) 454.3100, or check out their website at www.trufastwalls.com for more information and demonstration videos. For more information on SPAX® or Trufast® Roofing attachment solutions check out www.altenloh.us.

About the Author

Jason Wigboldy serves as president of Trufast® Walls and director of product development for Altenloh, Brinck & Co. US Inc. He is passionate about energy and labor efficient construction, and thrives on thinking outside the box to develop effective solutions while fostering collaborative partnerships that advance the industry.