Skip to Main Content
vapor barrier and thermal insulation

Waterproofing Your Home: Vapor Barriers, Thermal Insulation, or Both?

Get A Free Estimate
vapor barrier and thermal insulation

Professional basement, foundation, and crawl space repair contractors can choose from a broad catalog of waterproofing measures when working to protect your home. Which are the best to use?

Thermal insulation and vapor barriers, for example, both serve similar purposes. Is one really better at protecting your home than the other, or can you use both to your advantage?

The Benefits of Thermal Insulation

Pre-built homes likely already have insulation in place designed to keep your home warm and dry. If you’re building your own home, though, or looking to better waterproof your crawl space, you’ll want to explore the kind of insulating options you have available to you. More often than not, thermal insulation can pull double-duty in your home, keeping temperatures stable and your basement water-free.

Thermal insulation typically is made out of one of the following materials:

  • Fiberglass
  • Mineral wool
  • Cellulose
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Polystyrene

The aforementioned materials will help create a hydrophobic barrier between your home and the outdoors. Some can better handle this task than others. For example, even though fiberglass is the most commonly used type of insulation, it doesn’t hold up too well when it gets wet. It can easily sag and droop, start to smell, and become a breeding ground for nuisances like pests and mold.

A more reliable solution is the polystyrene type used by many contractors, including Innovative Basement Authority. Our rigid ExTremeBloc panels, comprised of an expanded polystyrene foam insulation infused with graphite to improve its insular ability. This is the better option as it has a higher R-value and it is energy efficient. The panels also are treated to resist water, mold, mildew, and pests.

With this thermal insulation barrier in place, you can more readily enjoy the rain when it starts to fall instead of worrying about its potential impact on your basement.

What does the insulation installation process look like? To install your thermal insulation as safely and effectively as possible, basement repair professionals in your area will need to:

  • Wear protective materials, including a ventilator mask and gloves
  • Measure the spot you want to insulate to determine its surface area
  • Place soffit baffles over your vents
  • Prepare the insulation
  • Begin placing the insulation material on the walls of your work area, leaving essential features unimpeded

Each contractor may approach this installation process differently, but they’ll use the aforementioned steps as goalposts to meet. However, be prepared for them to go off-book if they find anything amiss in your crawl space.

Once you’ve got your insulation in place, you’ll need to talk to the contractor about how best to care for it. If the material has not been treated to resist water or mold, you may need to replace your insulation within the next few years if you want to continue using it as a waterproofing measure.

The Benefits of Vapor Barriers

Thermal insulation works well as a waterproofing measure in your home. If you’re seeing more significant water damage or leakage throughout your crawl space, you may want to invest in a more comprehensive solution.

In addition to interior drainage systems and sump pumps, vapor barriers are most frequently used to waterproof crawl spaces. These large plastic-like sheets create a literal barrier between your belongings and external moisture. More often than not, vapor barriers are dense enough not only to keep water out of your home but most gases as well.

To install a vapor barrier, you’ll need to:

  • Dry out your crawl space.
  • Find the leak in your home.
  • Seal the leak, which may include installing interior drains and sump pumps.
  • Remove any old or damaged insulation that may impede the barrier.
  • Cut the barrier materials.
  • Place the materials along your walls and floor, only leaving gaps for electrical or plumbing equipment.

Doubling-Up: When To Combine Waterproofing Measures

Is the thermal insulation versus vapor barrier debate really a matter of competition, though? Not always. You can frequently pair these waterproofing measures together to better protect your home.

Thermal insulation and vapor barriers, as well as other solutions, stack as waterproofing measures. They’ll each make the other measure last a little while longer and can cover for the other in areas where water may still enter your home.

If you’re interested in investing in one or both of these waterproofing measures, don’t wait for the water damage to come to you. Reach out to a contractor operating out of the St. Cloud, MN, area for a home inspection and free quote on future services.

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Innovative Basement Authority Service Map

Our Locations

Fargo, ND

1330 41st St. N
Fargo, ND 58102

Minneapolis, MN

6265 Carmen Ave.
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076

Rush City, MN

1325 S Frandsen Ave
Rush City, MN 55069

Sioux Falls, SD

101 S. Reid Street, Suite 307
Sioux Falls, SD 57103