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March 30, 2010 7:00 AM CDT

TotalFlash Automates the Flashing Process

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TotalFlash has been installed in the cavity walls of hundreds of commercial and large residential buildings around the nation.
TotalFlash has been installed in the cavity walls of hundreds of commercial and large residential buildings around the nation.

In recent years, the explosion in remediation and mold litigation cases has compelled architects, masons and builders to demand the most reliable moisture-control in their exterior masonry cavity walls. Meanwhile, the pressure has grown for masons to complete jobs faster by getting to the bricklaying sooner.

As a result, masonry wall-failures that used to be caused by inadequate flashing details are now more likely to be caused by the improper installation of the flashing components. The fact is, when each moisture-control component has to be installed separately, the potential for error increases dramatically.

It’s the sort of perfect storm that cries out for a technological solution – some system that could, by its very design, reduce the chance of flaws in installation.

Ideally, this would be a uniform, comprehensive, precisely manufactured, moisture-control system that could be installed with just a few simple steps. Such a system would not only reduce human error, but also would reduce labor costs.

The need had been clear for decades. Yet, it wasn’t until 2006 that a product emerged to meet that need. TotalFlash was invented and patented by Mortar Net USA, a Burns Harbor, Ind.-based company.

Mortar Net USA factory-assembles all the moisture-control details (termination bar; mortar-capture/cavity-drainage device; stainless-steel drip-edge; weep tabs; and edge dam) onto 5.5-foot pre-cut panels of 40-mil flashing membrane. Each panel also is clearly marked for a uniform, six-inch lap-joint.

Mortar Net asserts that a single worker could install this all-in-one system so quickly that it could save 50 percent in time and labor costs versus installing conventional flashing components.

At first, these claims were met with skepticism by some in the industry. But the 2008 World of Concrete show, held in Las Vegas, featured a timed, 2-against-1 competition dubbed “The TotalFlash Challenge.”

As thousands of masonry professionals watched, a single mason who had never used TotalFlash before installed it in the equivalent of one-third the time and labor costs of a team of two experienced masons who were installing their usual flashing components. This 67-percent savings in time and labor costs actually exceeded the company’s claims.

“I still get calls every day from masons who’ve just now seen the video of that contest on our Web site,” says Earl Bickett, Mortar Net USA general manager. “I guess seeing is believing.”
The company reports that TotalFlash has now been installed in the cavity walls of hundreds of commercial and large residential buildings around the nation.

“TotalFlash's 'automatic' overlaps were a huge plus,” says Ed Elberson, AIA and principal in Somdal Associates LLC of Shreveport, La. “So were the multiple drainage elements and the stainless-steel drip edges. It installed more neatly than anything else I'd seen, making it extremely easy to inspect."

The product also is available in special sizes for restoration/remediation jobs. “Restoration contractors tell us they like TotalFlash because it spares them from chasing after a bunch of separate components when they’re up on a scaffold,” says Bickett, “and it’s easily installed in the narrow openings they have to work with. The 40-mil membrane also covers rough backup-walls nicely. But, like everyone else, they also appreciate its labor-saving speed and the uniform finished job it creates.”

Originally published in Masonry magazine.


About the Author

Gregg Hodgson is a Miller Beach, Ind.-based freelance writer who covers a variety of business topics.

 

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