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Waterproofing Your Crawl Space: Vapor Barriers, Thermal Insulation, or Both?

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benefits of crawl space insulation

When it comes to choosing a waterproofing solution for your home, you’ve got plenty of options. Some of these solutions, however, are better than others. When you’re doing your initial research, you may find yourself asking: which of these solutions will best protect a home?

Consider, for example, the overlap between a vapor barrier and thermal insulation. Let’s take a look at these two solutions to see if one really is better than the other – or if it’s worth your time to use both to protect your space.

The Benefits of Thermal Insulation

There are multiple types of insulation worth installing in your home. If you’re a new parent or want to learn how to play the drums for the first time, you’re going to want to invest in sound insulation. If you’re more interested in keeping your home warm as the weather starts to turn, then thermal insulation is the insulation for you.

How, though, can this insulation pull double-duty? Depending on the type of thermal insulation you purchase, you can use this insulation not only to keep your home warm but to create a hydrophobic barrier between the outdoors and the indoors. This barrier will keep rain and groundwater from reaching your belongings and damaging your internal supports.

More often than not, you’ll want to invest in thermal insulation made out of one of the following materials:

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

Complete Basement Systems uses rigid ExTremeBloc panels, which is made 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.

Regardless of the material you choose, the installation process is reasonably straightforward. While you can install thermal insulation on your own time, it’s often best to reach out to a professional contractor for guidance.

To install your thermal insulation as safely and effectively as possible, you’ll need to:

  • Measure the spot you want to insulate to determine its surface area.
  • Place soffit baffles over your vents.
  • Prepare the insulation.
  • Place the rigid insulation panels on the walls and secure it in place with special fasteners, leaving essential features unimpeded.

The process through which a contractor installs insulation in your home may vary slightly, as contractors may have to work around leaks or other support defects you otherwise wouldn’t know where there. However, once the job’s done, you’ll be able to rest easy. Talk to the contractor you bring on to determine how frequently you’ll need to swap out your insulation and what deficiencies you’ll need to keep an eye out for.

The Benefits of Vapor Barriers

Thermal insulation is a great fix for homes with minor leaks. What can you do, though, if you have a more persistent leak to deal with?

Vapor barriers typically find a home in your crawl space. However, these waterproofing solutions can be used elsewhere in a Denver, CO, basement. A vapor barrier is a large plastic-like sheet that’s so dense, water can’t get through it as a gas or a liquid. When you have a vapor barrier installed, you’ll have long-term protection from medium to severe flooding.

Other waterproofing measures like interior drainage and sump pump systems also can be used along with vapor barriers to keep your space dry. What does the encapsulation with vapor barrier installation process look like, though? Again, it’s always best to call in a contractor for help with this kind of project.

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

  • Dry out your crawl space or a section of your basement.
  • Find the leak in your home.
  • Seal the leak with professional guidance.
  • Remove any old or damaged insulation that may impede the barrier.
  • Cut the barrier materials.
  • Place the materials along your floor and walls, only leaving gaps for electrical equipment.

When To Combine Waterproofing Solutions

You’ll notice that installing a vapor barrier already requires you to interact with the insulation that you or a previous homeowner may have installed in your basement. If you’re already dealing with the materials, wouldn’t it be easier to use both thermal insulation and a vapor barrier to protect your home?

This kind of solution stacking is a great way to both protect your crawl space and ensure that your waterproofing solutions of choice last longer. That said, not all leaks call for an extensive stacking of solutions. If you think, though, that doing so may be worth your time, talk to one of the contractors operating in the Denver area for a free quote on your installation.

Above all else, don’t wait for a leak to magically disappear. The sooner you protect your crawl space with thermal insulation or a vapor barrier, the sooner you’ll be able to rest easy.

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