What Type of Encapsulation Material Works Best for the Crawl Space?

Like every homeowner who’s conscious about their crawl space around St. Louis, MO, you may be contemplating sealing this area under your house. This is a space that’s prone to moisture problems, so at the top of your mind might be how you’re going to keep it moisture-free and clean for years. 

Whether or not your crawl space is vented, it really pays to seal it. Neglecting this space could open it up to moisture and all the problems associated with it. By the time you’re taking action, it could be too late. Using a plastic crawl space system can help you stop some of the problems before they start affecting your home.

Is Plastic Encapsulation Effective?

Yes, it is. Any contractor will tell you this is the best way two protect your crawl space. Depending on your location, you can choose to install a plastic vapor barrier only or install the plastic encapsulation with a dehumidifier. We strongly recommend that you condition the crawl space so as to regulate moisture levels. Dehumidification can help bring down moisture to 50%, which is where it should be.

During encapsulation, your contractor will cover the entire floor and walls of the crawl space with a 20mm plastic barrier. Edges are sealed to the wall liner using tape, and beams and joists are insulated with spray foam. By the end of the exercise, the crawl space will be separate from the dirt and cold air outside, keeping it dry and free from pests and dust.

While the upfront costs may be high, the benefits are long-lasting. You’ll never ever have to worry about moisture attacking your crawl space or pests gaining a foothold. Also, your home will be much warmer and you’ll spend less energy regulating the internal conditions.

Where Can I Find Encapsulation Material?

Sourcing the right materials is almost as important as getting your crawl space encapsulated. Though there are different brands, almost all barriers are made from 100% polyethylene resin with reinforced polyester cord. Rolls are available in various sizes ranging from 675ft to 1200ft. 

For the floor, we recommend the 20 mm plastic crawl space vapor barrier, as it’s strong and thick enough to allow for heavy to medium storage. You can use it to cover stone or concrete floors or any crawl space with high traffic.

You can get a plastic barrier of any roll size from your local hardware store. Some online shops also sell them. While it may be cheaper to order your materials online, we recommend that you ask your local crawl space encapsulation contractor to help you source the materials. After all, they have been encapsulating for years, so they know what works best for the crawl space.

How Long Does Encapsulation Take?

Crawl space encapsulation is a pretty straightforward process that could take less than 24 hours. However, the installation time will vary depending on the condition of the crawl space and the size. A dirty, moldy, and damaged crawl space will require cleaning and repairs first before encapsulation gets underway. If you opt for the conditioned encapsulation, the installation may take a while since it involves installing a dehumidifier plus sump pumps.  And this could mean at least adding another day or two to your project timeline. 

A great way to cut the time is to clear out the crawl space on your own before the contractor comes so that when they come they can jump straight to encapsulation.

How Much Will I Spend on Encapsulation?

As with anything that involves money, you’re certainly going to be interested in how much you’re likely to spend on plastic crawl space encapsulation. To give you an idea, plan to set aside between $5,000 and $15,000. The ultimate costs will depend on the condition of the crawl space and its size. Other miscellaneous costs also can be associated for other repairs, sealing, and unclogging drains. If you also intend to install sump pumps and a dehumidifier, the cost will certainly go up. Your local contractor might charge you upwards of $100 per hour for labor alone, plus more for additional services. Be sure to check with your contractor for specific costs.

Should I install a vapor barrier myself?

For some homeowners, DIY seems the easiest route to take as it gives them the leeway to seal their crawl space with the material they like. If you don’t have any experience, we’d rather you leave the encapsulation bit to crawl space professionals. Otherwise, you risk damaging the encapsulation material and rendering it ineffective. Plus, you may also expose yourself to allergens and dust or get injured if you’re not used to working in confined spaces.

Are you planning to encapsulate the crawl space of your St. Louis, MO, home? Schedule an inspection and get a free crawl space estimate plus a lasting fix to your moist and dirty crawl space!