What is a Concrete Vapor Barrier?

Concrete mixing and pouring requires a degree of water to ensure the correct texture and strength of the concrete. However, once the concrete is poured and hardened, additional water can damage the concrete surface, or leave it feeling cold and damp. This is why many older homes have basements with just this sort of environment. Today’s builders have options to prevent water vapor from penetrating concrete surfaces. The use of a concrete vapor barrier can stop potentially harmful water vapor in its tracks, leaving your basement foundation dry and mold free.

The Importance of Correct Installation

The term concrete vapor barrier is a bit misleading, because all materials used for this purpose have a degree of permeability. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself about the various materials used for concrete vapor barriers and the permeability factors, to ensure the barrier used on the foundation of your home is appropriate. It is also essential to make sure that the concrete vapor barrier is installed correctly the first time, since it is exceedingly more complex to replace a vapor barrier that was installed incorrectly rather than properly installing it from the get go.

Choosing the Right Material

The first step is to make sure the concrete vapor barrier that is installed is the right material for the job. In 1997, a gold standard was established for vapor barriers, which is known as the ASTM standard E 1745. For the best performance of a vapor barrier, you want to make sure the material used on your home’s foundation has this seal of approval. While it may cost a bit more than your average concrete vapor barrier, the value is nearly limitless when you can enjoy a basement without cold or damp conditions. If you aren’t sure, ask your concrete contractor about the material he is using for your home.

The Right Installation

The next step is to make sure the concrete vapor barrier is installed correctly. This material should be used under basement floors and crawl spaces, and surround foundation walls. The vapor barrier should overlap and be sealed with a special seam tape to prevent and moisture vapor from sneaking through. This includes areas where there are openings in the concrete, such as to let pipes or other objects through. An experienced concrete contractor should be well versed in the type of concrete vapor barrier that will do the job best and the right way for installing the material to ensure the barrier is sound.

Are Concrete Vapor Barriers Right for Your Region?

Concrete vapor barriers may not be the best choice in all locations. Some believe that southern areas of the United States are better served with other types of material for this purpose. It is also not recommended to use vapor barriers between rows of insulation or in attic areas. Most concrete contractors will install their own concrete vapor barriers, since this is considered part of the preparation process prior to pouring concrete. It is important that you contractor be up to date on the building codes in your area to ensure the proper material and installation are used.