Crawl spaces have dirt floors where they typically breed mold and moisture. That is why it is important to install a vapor barrier in them so you can effectively prevent condensation and moisture. So, how much does a crawl space vapor barrier cost? Is it the same as crawl space encapsulation? Let’s find out.
Cost to Install Vapor Barrier in Crawl Space
The cost of crawl space vapor barrier installation typically ranges from $1,200 to $4,000. The overall cost primarily depends on the materials you will use and the size of the crawl space.
When you purchase vapor retarder paint, the cost per gallon is around $20 to $40. For a 5–gallon paint retarder, it is much more expensive at around $60 but can go as high as $90.
The vapor barrier paint is white and is also being used as a primer. A one-gallon bucket can cover around 300 to 400 sq. ft. A five-gallon can of paint can cover around 1,500 to 2,000 sq. ft.
In the US, a vapor retarder material should have a perm rating of 1 or less to be considered adequate. So you should consider this when buying materials to use.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Cost
When it comes to effectiveness, using paint is not as effective compared to encapsulation using a foil sheet or a plastic. Crawl space encapsulation costs around $1,500 to as much as $15,000, mainly depending on the size of the project.
One of the most commonly used vapor barriers is reinforced polyethylene plastic sheeting that is around 6 mil thick. This is the bare minimum a household can install as it offers sufficient durability without spending too much. This costs around $21 for 10’ x 25’ and $141 for 20′ x 100′.
The cost of a 10–mil vapor barrier that you can use for encapsulating walls and floors, including openings and vents, can be much more expensive.
It’s imperative to know, however, that the American Concrete Institute suggests that the vapor retarder should not be less than 10 mils thick. It even recommends thicker materials if you are covering surfaces with sharp angles.
If you want more durability that will last for about 20 years if properly installed, you should use a much thicker virgin poly. A 12-mil vapor barrier costs around $285 to $300 for the GuardianLiner™ 12′ x 85′.
If you are using a polyethylene vapor barrier for crawl spaces, you will need a professional who can help you with the installation. The cost ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 to do the job for you.
This cost to install a crawl space vapor barrier may still vary depending on the labor rate, the location, and even the materials used. This is because various materials require a different level of installation skills and expertise.
There are also other much more expensive options, especially if you go for the 23–mil vapor barriers that may often include drainage trenches or a dehumidifier.
Crawl Space Vapor Barrier vs Encapsulation
A lot of people may interpret these two as one and the same. However, although the objective is ultimately the same, there are significant differences.
First, as previously mentioned, encapsulation has the edge in terms of effectiveness compared to a vapor barrier. Encapsulation uses high-density materials that are used to avoid water vapor from creating problems.
In other words, encapsulation involves completely sealing your crawl space with plastic or foil so that there will be a less chance of developing moisture, leading to mold buildup. This is because encapsulation will also require you to install a dehumidifier and a sump pump.
Vapor barriers, on the other hand, go with wall insulation. Although there is no such material that can totally block moisture, using vapor barriers can reduce water vapor.
There are 3 different types of vapor barriers, and based on the type, the cost also varies. These are the following:
- The first class vapor retarders would use glass, sheet metal, polyethylene sheet, and rubber membrane.
- The second class has extruded polystyrene, 30 lbs. asphalt coated paper, bitumen coated craft paper, and plywood.
- The third class of vapor retarders includes fiberglass insulation, gypsum board, house warp, brick, concrete block, brick, and concrete block.
Should You Install Vapor Barrier?
As previously mentioned, one of the main benefits of installing a vapor barrier is that it can prevent odor and mold. Since these locations often have high moisture, foul odors may form. If you have a vapor barrier, you no longer have to worry about it.
Another benefit is that it gives you lower costs and energy efficiency. High moisture levels, believe it or not, can affect the temperature in your home.
When installing a vapor barrier, it serves as a sealant that can lower energy costs; making it really energy–efficient.
Factors Affecting The Cost of Crawl Space Vapor Barrier
The following factors affect your total costs when installing a vapor barrier in your crawl space:
- Choice of materials: As mentioned, there are several choices when it comes to the preferred materials as well as the thickness of the film to be used. Your choice of whether to work on a budget or to ensure the durability of the vapor barrier would be the bottom line of the total cost.
- Labor: When it comes to installing vapor barriers for crawl spaces, you either have the choice of doing it on your own or you can just hire a professional to do the work. Obviously, hiring a professional will cost you more, but they will provide you with more satisfactory results and can redo the job at no extra charge if problems arise as part of the warranty.
- Project size: Since materials and labor costs would be determined based on the size of the project, the bigger the scope, the higher the cost of installing a crawl space vapor barrier. However, the cost per area reduces as the project size increases, as some of the cost components tend to remain constant regardless of the size, or at least at certain points.
- Location: Where you reside, also dictates the cost of your project. If you live in big cities or affluent states, expect to pay a project cost that is directly proportional to the cost of living and the cost of doing business in that area.
- Regulations: Certain regulations in specific areas may render the project more costly than it would have been elsewhere. This is because the local government may impose certain requirements about the materials to be used or fees to be paid for home improvement permits. So be sure to check these out before even commencing the project.