Building air barriers

Twenty years ago, Mike Young was working as a successful carpenter and bricklayer in Nova Scotia. As the years progressed and he gained experience, he began noticing a rising interest in his construction expertise. After receiving continuous requests for assistance, Young made the decision to start his own company. Fast forward to today, and the company he created, Birkshire Developments, has been an established contractor at the top of its game for decades.

With countless years of experience in the construction industry, Young knows that the working conditions of a building project can range from subzero temperatures to extreme heat. The success of a job relies on a variety of factors; anything from unpredictable weather to other unforeseen challenges can arise at any time. When curveballs are thrown your way, it’s essential to know that the products you are using have you covered and will last through it all.


Winter weather can be challenging to endure, and simply doing daily tasks, can be more difficult in a frigid environment. However, when your company’s success relies on the ability to thrive in the cold, the stakes are even higher. Although winter conditions can make things difficult, the elements shouldn’t stop your projects cold. And, your materials need to work as hard as you do.

Young and his team have experienced the challenges of working in freezing temperatures firsthand. In January of 2019, they were in the process of completing a building project in Halifax that would put them, and the products they were using, to the ultimate test. Knowing the project timeline required the air barrier membrane application process to take place in the middle of winter, Young had to be sure that the product he chose wouldn’t hinder the process. He selected 3M’s Air Barrier products, which carry a unique acrylic adhesive technology, for their ability to be applied and stick in temperatures ranging from minus 18 degrees C to 66 degrees C, while also being UV-resistant for up to 12 months.

“3M™ Vapor Permeable Air Barrier 3015VP was great to work within the winter time. We have previously applied bitumen-based membranes, which would often become brittle and hard to work with in low temperatures. The consistency of this product remained the same whether it was minus 15 degrees C or warmer. There were very few days over the course of the winter in which my guys could not install product due to the weather,” says Young.


Along with freezing temperatures, the winter season also comes with the added obstacle of shorter workdays due to fewer hours of sunlight. Time is money so when the days are shorter, it’s increasingly important that the products you’re using can be applied easily and efficiently. The membrane Young chose for the Halifax project, 3M™ Air Barrier with Permeable Backing 3015VP, can be installed either vertically or horizontally, while also including a peel-off liner so that no time-consuming primers are needed. These features made the difference between project delays and finishing ahead of schedule.

This improved installation technology enabled the team to complete the more than 40,000-square-foot job ahead of schedule—beating the end date that Young had initially budgeted for by one and a half months.

Another incentive that helped keep the team on schedule? Cash bonuses. On every project that Birkshire Developments completes, they offer a cash bonus to the crewmembers if more than six rolls of membrane are installed per day.


The detailing of windows, doors, and other penetrations is another crucial part of a construction project. Even for those who are experts at flashing or sealing, certain hard-to-reach areas can prove to be a challenge.

The project in Halifax required Young’s team to handle everything from the overall window installation to the flashing. He knew his skilled crew would be successful from start to finish, but he wanted to ensure he was equipping them with a product that would help simplify the entire process and get the job done right.

It’s crucial that flashing accessories are extremely conformable and have the ability to elongate in multiple directions, in order to get a good seal around corners and awkward shapes. They should also be compatible with multiple substrates so you have fewer worries about sticking to all the materials that come together in one place. Knowing this, Young selected 3M™ Air and Vapor Barrier 3015 for the window flashing.

With high-quality materials that streamlined the application process, the installation time was almost 50 percent faster than normal—satisfying everyone from Young and his crew to the installer and developer.


Whether you’re facing extreme temperatures or complex penetrations, you need to know that you can rely on your products as much as you rely on your team. After implementing 3M’s Air Barrier products throughout the Halifax project, Young has found a secret weapon he can count on to Build Smarter. Any Day. Every Day

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Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2019
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