Crawl Space Vapor Barrier vs Encapsulation

When it comes to crawl space in homes, many questions seem to arise with very few straightforward answers. Here you’ll learn the differences between vapor barriers and encapsulation to help you decide which is best for your personal situation.

Crawl Space Vapor Barriers

Vapor barriers are plastic liners that cover the dirt floor in crawl spaces. The purpose of a vapor barrier is to slow down moisture and vapors in the soil from getting into the crawl space. This plastic stops at your crawl space’s columns and walls. But, vapor barriers don’t create a sealed space like encapsulation does.

During vapor barrier installation, professionals will lay down about 6mm of plastic throughout the whole crawl space floor. Installation of a dehumidifier isn’t required since your crawl space vents aren’t sealed. A sump pump installation isn’t required either. In some cases, depending on the crawl space, a home will require a sump pump.

Benefits of Vapor Barriers

Vapor barrier installation does offer a few benefits, such as:

  • It provides your house with better air quality.
  • You can store items in the crawl space.
  • You can decrease mold problems in the crawl space by decreasing humidity.
  • It saves you money on your monthly energy bill.

Crawl Space Encapsulation

With crawl space encapsulation, a  professional completely seals your whole crawl space in plastic, using  a thicker 12 mm to 14 mm plastic instead of a thin layer of plastic. The thickness isn’t the only difference, however. With this method, everything is sealed off and all openings and vents are closed. 

You are required to have a dehumidifier and sump pump installed with encapsulation. The purpose of encapsulation is to decrease your crawl space’s moisture and decrease the risk of mold. It also provides your crawl space with cleaner air. Once the crawl space is encapsulated, it’s the perfect storage area because it will be totally clean.

Benefits of Encapsulation

There are numerous benefits of crawl space encapsulation, including:

  • It saves money on your monthly energy bill.
  • It provides you with better air quality.
  • It reduces humidity.
  • It decreases the risk of mold.
  • It prevents hardwood floor problems (moisture from underneath your home could cause your floors to warp and buckle).
  • It improves your home’s resale value.
  • It helps cooling and heating ducts last longer (moisture from the crawl space could lead to growth of mold, damage and rust in your duct work).
  • It helps to avoid infestations and pests (an unsealed, open crawl space is very attractive to all types of critters and pests). Encapsulation helps keep these unwanted pests out of your home.

While you might think vapor barriers are an ideal solution for keeping away the water vapor that makes its way into your house, they really only tackle the gaseous water vapor coming up through the soil. They don’t do much to fix the issue when other sources cause water to pool into your crawl space. Crawl space encapsulation is a much better option for these problems.

Encapsulation is different from vapor barriers because it seals out water vapor entirely and stops the process of moving water vapor from the ground up. Since the entire crawl space is encapsulated, including walls, your risk of moisture problems from water vapor decreases to almost zero.

Also, encapsulation goes even further than simply keeping water vapor out. When you add in the insulation of crawl space encapsulation, it helps keep in the cool air in the summertime and the warm air in during the winter. This leaves you with a more energy-efficient and comfortable home throughout the year.

An encapsulated crawl space is also a very appealing feature when it comes time to sell your home. It shows potential buyers there aren’t any outstanding water issues they’ll be stuck having to deal with, the air quality of the home is good and the home has a properly maintained foundation.

Moisture Loc specializes in basement & crawl space waterproofing, foundation repair, sealed crawl space encapsulation and more. Contact us to learn more about our crawl space encapsulation services.