When it comes to the crawl space encapsulation vs. vapor barrier discussion – many questions arise. What is crawl space encapsulation? What is a vapor barrier? Are they important to my Pacific Northwest home?
Both processes aim to accomplish the same goal–but they’re vastly different in approach and execution.
The method you choose will depend on various factors such as your house’s structure, the current state of your crawl space, and the budget you are looking to spend.
At Crawl Pros, we’re experts in all things crawl spaces. More to the point, we know full well how encapsulation and vapor barriers take special precedence in the Pacific Northwest, given the frequency of the region’s rainfall.
Learning the differences between crawl space encapsulation vs. vapor barrier installations may help you determine which solution is best for your crawl space and why it is important to contact a professional crawl space company for professional advice.
What’s The Difference Between Crawl Space Encapsulation And A Crawl Space Vapor Barrier?
While there are differences between vapor barriers and encapsulation, let’s first look at their similarities.
Both processes set out to achieve the same goals; aiming to improve air quality by preventing moisture and decreasing humidity which prevents further damage in your crawl space.
When each method is executed at its best, these shared traits lead to even further benefits. Both approaches may offer extra storage in your home without the risk of moist conditions in your crawl space. You could also receive a decreased monthly energy bill.
The primary difference between encapsulation and barriers can be seen in their names.
A vapor barrier is a line of defense; an extra functional layer. A high-quality 9-mil plastic covering a crawl space’s dirt floor, Separating ground soil from the crawl space.
Alternatively, encapsulation is how it sounds; fully immersive and all-consuming. Encapsulation usually uses a thick linker that can be similar to or up to double a vapor barrier’s size. Everything in the crawl space gets covered including the ground and walls.
Typically, a vapor barrier primarily defends against the gaseous water vapor from the soil, which may not be as protective against water pooling. Encapsulation does protect against water pooling.
Unlike vapor barriers, an encapsulated crawl space requires a sump pump and dehumidifier. Occasionally crawl spaces with vapor barriers will need sump pumps although not common.
What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
During crawl space encapsulation, a technician covers every inch of the soil with 12mm to 20mm of heavy-duty vapor. This includes the walls and floor of the crawl space. Vents are completely sealed to bring the crawl space into the building envelope.
An encapsulated crawl space in your home combines a thick vapor barrier with bolstered insulation. With air leaks sealed and moisture levels regulated in your crawl space, you’re harnessing a controlled, efficient environment.
Crawl space encapsulation benefits are plentiful for any homeowner.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Benefits:
By decreasing the impact that moisture and temperature in your crawl space, you’re mitigating and eliminating environmental disruptors such as:
- Wet insulation
- Moisture in the air
- Perspiring windows
- Pest infestations (e.g., termites)
- Rust in ductwork (increasing the lifespan of ducts
- Dry rot
- Soft floors
- Mildew and mold
Crawl space encapsulation benefits in your home include improved air quality and a reduced energy bill. It also prevents pipes from bursting. Furthermore, it adds resale value to your home.
Lastly, crawl space encapsulation keeps in warm air during winter and cool air during the summer.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Cost
The average crawl space encapsulation cost depends on the space size and other factors. Crawl Pros can offer an estimate specific for your crawl space – reach out to Crawl Pros for a free quote. If you choose to work with us, our services come with Crawl Pros’ Perfect Guarantee.
We thoroughly inspect your crawl space before recommending encapsulation. We want to ensure you’re making an investment that pays off in the long run. Once we’ve decided to move forward with crawl space encapsulation, the installation process usually takes 3 to 5 days.
Here’s what else is involved in Crawl Pros crawl space encapsulation services:
- Clean out the crawl space, removing all prior insulation
- Install a water drainage system with a sump pump
- Seal up all the vents with rigid foam or a concrete block
- Hang a 12mm or 20mm vapor barrier–like curtain material around the walls
- Install a 12mm or 20mm material across the floor
- After insulation, we install a dehumidifier
What Is A Vapor Barrier?
During Vapor barrier installation, the entirety of a crawl space is lined with the industry standard Black 6mm plastic material.
At Crawl Pros, we use fortified 9mm heavy-duty vapor barrier plastic on all of our customer’s crawl spaces to match our company quality standards and specifications. This material is reflective white on one side (to lighten up the space, helping detect rodent infestations) and reflective black on the other.
Vapor barrier installation is less immersive than encapsulation, extending across the dirt floors and stopping at the walls and columns. Yet, as highlighted in our blog, it carries many similar benefits (e.g., improved air quality, reduced energy bill, mold prevention, and pest prevention.) as crawl space encapsulation.
Check out our service page for vapor barriers if this solution makes sense for your crawl space.
Vapor Barrier Installation Cost
The average vapor barrier installation cost is between $1.35 and $2.00 per square foot. Factors like thickness and customization can impact the crawl space vapor barrier cost. However, our 9mm vapor costs the same as the 6mm material.
Per square foot, expect the crawl space vapor barrier cost to land between $1.35 and $2 per square foot, or a total of between $1,500 and $4,000 for labor and materials.
Vapor barrier installation services typically can be completed in one day as they are less involved compared to full crawl space encapsulation
The Importance Of Your Home’s Crawl Space
Given how cities in the Pacific Northwest, like Seattle, experience 150 days of rain per year, it only makes sense that you’d want to combat excess moisture and water in your home. Vapor barriers and encapsulation of your crawl space offer robust protection while your crawl space–in and of itself–staves off wetness.
Read more about how a crawl space vapor barrior benefits your home’s health.
What Solution Is Right For Your Home?
The two main factors you might consider when choosing between a crawl space vapor barrier and crawl space encapsulation are:
- Moisture levels in your neighborhood
Encapsulation is more exhaustive and expensive. You need a sump pump and dehumidifier. However, if you’re constantly getting poured on and your crawl space is no match for the moisture–even with a vapor barrier–then it’s wise to consider encapsulation.
Conversely, there are many situations–even in the rainy Pacific Northwest–where a vapor barrier entirely suffices, if not thrives. That rings doubly true with Crawl Pros’ 9mm material. It’s more affordable since the process requires less labor and materials.
At Crawl Pros, we’ll help you decide which solution offers the most long-term benefits for your crawl space, home, and budget.
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There are no questions Crawl Pros will leave unanswered, and no stone we’ll leave unturned in getting the job done right. Contact Crawl Pros today to discuss your crawl space needs.