Are sarking and vapour permeable membranes the same thing?

Climasure are a distributor of the high quality, German engineered building membranes from Pro Clima, and it means a lot to us that the industry understands how and why the Pro Clima membranes are different.  We talk to builders and architects about the science that goes into the way they build and how building membranes are not all made the same and in our travels, we hear terminology for building membranes used interchangeably all the time.  Here is a list off the top of my head of how builders and architects refer to building membranes:


  • Vapour permeable membrane
  • Sarking
  • Vapour barrier
  • Weather resistive barrier
  • Building wrap
  • Building membrane
  • Foil
  • Reflective sarking
  • Builder’s paper
  • Wall membrane
  • Roof membrane
  • Breathable membrane

The variation in how all of the different membrane products on the market work is significant and if you look at the list, you can see that some of these names mean the opposite of each other.

Importantly, we often hear the words “vapour barrier” or “sarking” used when someone is in fact talking about a vapour permeable membrane.  Traditional terminology makes its way into modern building practices and I’m here to remind you that it is important to communicate with each other effectively and accurately so that mistakes or inadvertent product substitutions aren’t made that are difficult to fix.

The Pro Clima membranes aren’t “sarking” or “vapour barriers” – they are a high quality vapour permeable membrane and you will often hear them referred to as a Weather Resistive Barrier or a WRB. The reason for this is because, while they are highly vapour permeable, the main purpose of the Pro Clima system is actually protecting the frame from the weather.

Call me if you have questions!


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