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What Type of Crawl Space Encapsulation is the Best for My Home?

No type of encapsulation is as effective a plastic crawl space barrier in protecting your St. Cloud, MN, home from water, humidity, and mold.

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Chances are you want to encapsulate the crawl space of your St. Cloud, MN, home but don’t know what material to use, where to source them, or how long the whole process takes. Don’t worry. As well as showing you the options available, we’ll highlight the process of encapsulation, what it costs, and tell you whether a DIY project or a professional job is best for you. Read on.

What are the most effective types of encapsulation?

Crawl space encapsulations

Before you carry out encapsulation, you have to think carefully about the type of encapsulations and what works for your home. You can undertake a conditioned crawl space encapsulation or unconditioned encapsulation. Conditioned encapsulation is good for homes with high humidity. As well as applying the plastic vapor barrier, you will have to install a dehumidifier, exhaust or source air from your HVAC system.

As for the choice of material, plastic barriers are the most popular and the most effective. Available options include:

  • 6-mil vapor barrier
  • 10-mil vapor barrier
  • 12-mil vapor barrier
  • 20-mil vapor barrier

For a vapor barrier to remain effective, it must be durable. We strongly recommend the 20-mil 3-ply vapor barrier made of high and low-density plastic with polyester reinforcement. It’s tear-resistant and will keep out moisture effectively. Get a roll that’s treated with antimicrobial finish as it will protect your crawl space against mildew growth and mold. Avoid anything thinner as it could mean your encapsulation will crumble and disintegrate in no time.

Buying crawl space encapsulation material

You can easily find plastic vapor barriers in your local hardware store. While it’s possible to order a roll online, we advise you to source from trusted local contractors. In case there’s a problem or quality issues, you can get a replacement quickly and continue your encapsulation. Ask your local basement contractor for recommendations if you’re not sure where to buy the material.

How long does installation take?

Encapsulating a crawl space is a fairly straightforward procedure. Assuming the vented crawl space is in fairly good condition, it will take about one to two days to complete the installation. How fast the contractor works depends on the amount of clearing and whether they’re working in a tighter area or not.

Typical installations involve:

  • Preparing the crawl space
  • Covering vertical walls
  • Sealing pipes and ducts
  • Addressing the columns
  • Rolling out the plastic barrier and taping the seams

If the crawl space is dirty, pest-ridden, debris-filled or generally in bad shape, it’s likely the whole process will take a couple of days. You may want to clean out this space before the contractor arrives so you can make their work easier.

Crawl Space Encapsulation Cost

On average, you could spend anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000 on your encapsulation project. Those are conservative estimates. The overall amount will depend on the size of your home, the condition of the crawl space. Different contractors use materials of varying quality and this is going to reflect on the final prices and contractor rates. Other things that might determine the eventual cost are the type of insulation, number of layers and add-ons such as sump pumps and dehumidifiers. Every extra feature will increase the material cost and labor charges. 

Vapor barrier prices vary depending on the thickness of the plastic. Other essentials that also vary include sealing tape and spray foam insulation. Labor charges for installation could be upwards of $100 per hour, but be sure to check with your contractor for more information specific to that company. 

Should I Install a Vapor Barrier Myself?

We wouldn’t advise you to go the DIY route for obvious reasons. You may underestimate the scope of the project and find yourself stuck with an incomplete and poorly encapsulated crawl space. Eventually, you will have to hire a local contractor to fix your mess again. This will be a waste of time and money. The other reason is that you may not understand what actually goes into encapsulating a crawl space, including all the steps. If you miss one or make a blunder, your crawl space won’t be properly sealed, meaning it could let in moisture. Let’s not even get started on the risk of physical injury and the fact that you will get exposed to dust and other harmful gases in this area.

Looking to install a plastic vapor barrier in your crawl space? Schedule a free crawl space inspection with your local basement contractor. You will get a written estimate the same day.

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