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Case Study

Homewood Suites: Toe-to-Toe with a Michigan Winter

As part of an expansion plan sponsored by a Lansing, Michigan township known as “The Heights,” construction broke ground on The Hilton Homewood Suites in late 2016. The Lansing State Journal reported the extended- stay hotel as “the third hotel built since 2015,” to meet a growing demand for more lodging options in Greater Lansing as the tourism industry grows.[1] According to an annual report by the city’s visitor’s bureau, its 4.8 million visitors booked over 1 million room nights in 2016.[2]

At 75,000 square-feet, the residential-style hotel will stand at six stories, housing 139 rooms. The project was architected by Campbell & Associates, and is designed expressly for travellers planning for an extended stay. Facing adverse weather conditions under a tight schedule, the Homewood Suites project needed a wall system solution that could save time and money, and cooperate with the challenges of working in cold weather, as well as meet a February 2018 deadline. Although a powerful, record-strength El Niño resulted in the warmest winter on record across the United States in 2015-2016 and most locations in Michigan were five to seven degrees higher than average—a Michigan winter still isn’t for the faint of heart.

Brighton, Michigan-based General Contractor, Gordon Construction, undertook the Homewood Suites project. They would be tasked with overseeing the installation of 58,880 square feet of sheathing during winter months, between January and March of 2017. The anticipation of harsh, frigid and unforgiving weather represented a challenge for Gordon Construction, as well as Ritsema Associates, the subcontractor hired to hang and seal the sheathing panels. A traditional exterior wall assembly that calls for gypsum sheathing with a fluid-applied membrane can be difficult to install in temperature extremes, since the viscosity of the fluid can fluctuate, which affects the minimum mil thickness required as it is being spread over panel after panel of fiberglass mat sheathing—a process that often requires several passes around the entire complex. This is a cause-and-effect that can lead to squandered time and money, and can prove fatal to a project’s punctuality.

A Proven, Tested Solution DensGlass® Sheathing, plus a fluid- applied WRB-AB, was the original design specified by the architect. However, interior contractor, Ritsema Associates, had another idea—a solution to their scheduling and weather concerns without having to look outside the Dens® product family. Jennifer Sanford, project manager at Ritsema Associates said, “DensElement™ Barrier System was the go-to choice for the project, in part, due to its cold-weather application advantages.” Because the DensElement™ Barrier System uses AquaKOR™ Technology, its water-resistive barrier-air barrier (WRB-AB) is integrated within its gypsum core into the fiberglass mat. This eliminates the need for applying an added WRB-AB, such as a building wrap, peel-and-stick or a fluid-applied membrane over the exterior gypsum sheathing board.

DensElement™ only requires sealing of the joints, fasteners, openings, penetrations and transitions, which is accomplished using PROSOCO R-Guard® FastFlash®, a liquid flashing membrane that seals up rough openings of structured walls. This process requires only one pass around the building, as wasreported by Ritsema. “There was a learning curve with the PROSOCO R-Guard® FastFlash® application, as we learned the workability is different in winter months,” Sanford said. “Once this was learned, they [the installers] were very pleased.” Using DensElement™ allows them to hit the joints and screw points when covering a large area. They can do it in a matter of days rather than having to go back and install a totally separate product.

The DensElement™ Barrier System helps subcontractors combat challenges that would normally cause them to fall behind schedule. Because FastFlash® bonds directly to damp substrates and can be applied in cooler temperatures, DensElement™ Barrier System can be installed in unfavorable conditions. As a result, it will allow them to meet an aggressive schedule. For Sanford, this is one of the things that matters most. The payoff of the versatility Sanford notes is multi- faceted. Because they save time when it comes to installation, they also save money when it comes to labor costs. Although they are using the same size crew as originally planned—between four and six installers—human hours are used more efficiently. As a result, money is also saved when it comes to equipment rentals. “I would encourage others to use DensElement™ Barrier System on other projects for the same reasons we are—labor savings, equipment savings and workability in the winter months,” she said.


This article is intended solely as general information.  Ultimately, the design and detailing of any project, assembly or system is the responsibility of a professional, and all projects must comply with applicable building codes and standards.  For information concerning the limited warranty for the DensElement™ Barrier System, visit  GP Gypsum disclaims any responsibility or liability for the architecture, design, engineering or workmanship of any project, assembly or system.

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