Passivhaus Window Install Demo

Joerg Birkelbach of Tremco flew in from Ohio just to show us how to use their ExoAir Trio (formerly illmod Trio) foam tape in window installations.  Talk about customer service!

The Trio is an open-cell flexible polyurethane foam impregnated with synthetic resin.  According to its data sheet, it has been developed to expand into a window/door rough opening to create a seal that is “airtight, thermally efficient and vapor permeable”, hence the “Trio”.

The main objective was to learn how to install our windows from Intus using the Trio.  Aramus and Dave from Intus and Charlie and Rafael from Intellistructures were all present.

The Trio has an amazing expansion capability.  When delivered, it is about 5/32″ thick, which is what you see below in the rolled on left.  Once released from roll, within minutes, the foam expands to 1 1/2″.  As Joerg explained, 1 1/2″ is the maximum expansion but the at that point, there is no compression and an airtight seal does not exist.  For this particular roll the application range is between 7-15 mm (0.275″-0.59), this range refers to the gap between the window rough opening and the window frame.

This speedy expansion means whoever does the install must know exactly what they are doing and cannot take too long with each window install.  Even though the installer needs to know what they are doing, this doesn’t mean he/she can’t learn how to do it relatively quickly.  Joerg did a demonstration that took about 5 minutes (while everyone fired questions at him).  After that, Rafael (our SIPs installer) took over and did a practice install.  I think it isn’t a difficult material to use but learning how to properly use it before any actual installation is absolutely crucial.

We removed the window frame to see how the tape had expanded.  This is what the foam looks like after a few minutes.  As you can see that lines had formed on the tape and you can see where the window bracket had been.  The tape had expanded following the contours of the window frame and the bracket.

A few things about the Trio that we learned:

  • Keep it cool;
  • Work quickly;
  • Always cut a little longer;
  • Keep unused tape rolled up

Here are some videos we took.

Joerg doing an install demonstration

Rafael doing a test install

Tricks & Tips when using Exoair Trio

The PNC SmartHome Cleveland uses Tremco’s ExoAir Trio


6 responses to this post.

  1. great stuff! or rather – tremco! big fans… what are your thoughts on ease of install, and do you have numbers to compare this v. sending someone back w/ a can of great stuff or sim. and praying that everything is sealed properly?


  2. Mike,
    That’s exactly it! I want to not have to send someone back to reseal gaps. My goal is to train a couple of people to be really good at it and do everything once if we can. The tape is pretty expensive, still waiting on final pricing. I’ll share with you privately when I have it.

    Also, I am trying to get another video up on the same post but having a couple of issues. This one will be the tricks and tips on how to use the tape. It should help you.

    Personally, I think it is pretty easy to use. You need to be fast but very careful. So, that means someone GOOD.


  3. we had a intro session with joerg here in seattle. a few builders thought that while the material itself is more expensive than something like great stuff – the labor savings and knowing that things were sealed/airtight would probably not be as expensive in the long run.

    also, we really were impressed with the ease of use – and versatility. apparently folks are using this in prefab panel joints? impressive.


  4. I think the material makes a lot of sense but you really need to know how to use it, otherwise, you’ll still have to patch the holes (for example, when you cut too short). They also have a tape that supposedly works really well for joining SIPs too at a fraction of the cost of Trio. I think this is also a viable product because according to Charlie, the adhesives he currently uses is very expensive and labor intensive.


  5. Posted by Harvey Wilson Goolsby, architect on 2012/05/29 at 12:22 pm

    “Fast”…leaves me doubtful.
    My documents/ specs/ contracts have taught me to pay for maerials stored on site etc, but to pay for window instzllation on a unit price basis AFTER I have approved shimmed installation for square/level/true using a large 4′ triangel.

    Builders concept of “true and square” (bubble level accuracy) are not the basis on which window manufacturers have tested their units for air infiltration.

    Regularly (double hung) windows will be 3/16+ out of level (bubble level) hence 3/4 + out vertically. Builder’s bubble level measurement for horizontal and vertical are unconnected. My triangle is. If windows are so installed, unplanned leakage is forever.
    Speed…for window installation? No thank you.

    Harvey W. Goolsby, architect.


    • Hi Harvey,

      Thanks for your comment. Our experience after the blower door tests is not to trust materials that perform “miracles”, see our later post shows a test of different methods to air-sealing around windows and some analysis of test results. I am with you!


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