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Should You Choose Encapsulation or a Vapor Barrier for Your Crawl Space?

Does your crawl space have a vapor barrier (also called a moisture barrier) or an encapsulation? If the answer is “no” or if you’re unsure, odds are, you need to decide if a vapor barrier or encapsulation is best for your home.

The humid climate of the West Kentucky region can be harmful to a home. Vapor barrier and encapsulation protect a home’s structural integrity in addition to your family’s health and wellbeing. A majority of the air that circulates in your home comes from the crawl space. Because of that, we want to make sure that the crawl space is clean and dry so you and your family are not breathing in moldy, musty air.

But first, you need to decide between a vapor barrier or an encapsulation.

There are pros and cons to both options. Let’s first discuss what a vapor barrier is and why it may be a good fit for your home’s crawl space.

A vapor barrier (also known as a moisture barrier) is a plastic cover designed to prevent moisture buildup in your crawl space. Moisture in a crawl space can lead to many issues for a home that are easily avoided with the right protection in a crawl space, such as a vapor barrier.

The basic vapor barriers we use here at The Crawlspace Ace are a thin sheet of black plastic, 6 mil thick, that spreads across the crawl space floor and overlaps at the seams. It’s not a sealed system which means moisture can go under or around the vapor barrier and still get into your crawl space. We always do a thorough cleanout of all “crawl space debris” such as old piping, wood planks, concrete blocks and anything else that needs to be removed from your crawl space prior to laying a new vapor barrier. To secure the vapor barrier, we use a heavy-duty landscape stake to secure it in multiple places, paying attention to high traffic areas.

Of course, as you probably guessed, a vapor barrier is a much more affordable option compared to encapsulation. That’s often the reason homeowners will choose a vapor barrier compared to encapsulation.

But if budget allows, we recommend encapsulating your crawl space for its many benefits and longevity.

Encapsulations are gaining popularity in homes across the region and it’s easy to see why. This is truly the best form of protection against moisture and mold buildup in your crawlspace. Encapsulating your crawl space will help:

  • Prevent mold and wood rot

  • Improve energy efficiency in your home by increasing the efficiency of your HVAC

  • Produce better indoor air quality

  • Prevent insects and pests from taking residence under your home

  • Correct water intrusions

  • Add value to your home

Encapsulation of a crawl space includes the installation of a thick, premium liner (12-180 mil) which is laid throughout the crawl space floor and also along the foundation walls. All seams are taped and vents are closed. Dehumidifiers are also a must in this humid climate of our region, which is why our encapsulations always include a dehumidifier. The biggest difference between a vapor barrier and encapsulation is the dehumidifier. Encapsulation includes a dehumidifier, whereas a vapor barrier does not.

As a finishing touch, we insulate the foundation walls and in between the rim joists to keep out moisture and help control the climate of the crawl space. We will also install a custom sealed metal crawl door that prevents bugs, pests and humidity from entering your crawl space. It’s made to be so durable that it will last forever!

Our guarantee to you is that you will never have to worry about the condition of your crawl space again after encapsulating the space.

With so many benefits, why don’t all homes encapsulate their crawl space? The most common reason is cost. The average crawl space encapsulation for our company tends to be around $15k. Before you click out of this blog in shock, keep in mind that this cost typically includes the encapsulation, sump pump system and some kind of mold remediation. You can even opt-in for annual crawl space check-ups as well. Here are just a few of the products and services included in a full encapsulation project:

  • Installation of a sump pump

  • Installation of a backup pump to accommodate the sump pump

  • Installation of a drainage system around the foundation of the crawl space

  • Mold remediation as needed (price is determined by the severity of the mold build up and the type of treatment needed)

  • Installation of a dehumidifier

  • Installation of premium barriers and crawl space door(s)

Although the cost may sound high, it’s a worthwhile investment. Encapsulation will protect the structure of your home while also improving the efficiency and air quality within your home for the health and wellbeing of your family. ​

Every house is different, so it is important to get under each house to do a full inspection before deciding which route to take. ​Prices are dependent on your home’s unique needs. Our aim is for you to be at ease, knowing that your crawl space is in good hands with The Crawlspace Ace.

Fill out our online form here to schedule your crawl space evaluation or give us a call today at 270-804-6909.


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