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Old 01-25-2011, 09:27 PM   #1
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vapor barrier


I am in the process of renovating my basement. The basement was already studded and insulated and vapour barrier. I have been spending the last couple days patching the holes etc...My question is that I notice the barrier is not totaly sealed to the floor.Do I need to tuck tape that to the floor and ensure it is totally sealed or is it ok. There are areas where the barrier is too short to reach the floor. I live in Ontario Canada where I get all three seasons. I have always found the basement very warm as is, I just want to ensure i am doing everything right before attaching the drywall. Thanks

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Old 01-25-2011, 09:51 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by mort5029 View Post
I am in the process of renovating my basement. The basement was already studded and insulated and vapour barrier. I have been spending the last couple days patching the holes etc...My question is that I notice the barrier is not totaly sealed to the floor.Do I need to tuck tape that to the floor and ensure it is totally sealed or is it ok. There are areas where the barrier is too short to reach the floor. I live in Ontario Canada where I get all three seasons. I have always found the basement very warm as is, I just want to ensure i am doing everything right before attaching the drywall. Thanks
The vapor barrier is there to keep out moisture, not as a form of insulation.

Moisture is constantly passing through your house from the concrete, and it leaves behind a mineral powder known as efflorescence as it enters. These two forces will work together to ruin the bond any tapes you use on the basement walls would have.

Instead, maybe one creative approach would be to use a little spray foam insulation to fill the gap? I've heard that spray foam can bond very well to concrete, and I know that caulk won't work, nor will waterproof paints, etc. You definitely want the vapor barrier to run all the way to the floor to keep your drywall protected from the moisture.

Another consideration is that you need to keep the drywall protected from moisture coming up from the floor as well. Spray foam won't do that, so maybe it's not such a hot idea. Sealing the concrete is one option, or adding a little extra vapor barrier there. The best idea is probably to install a vapor barrier of some sort on the floor, whether you use waterproof plastic tiles, a concrete sealer, or a plastic vapor barrier. This will protect not only the drywall, but your studs, subfloor, and carpeting.


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Old 01-27-2011, 11:16 PM   #3
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VB's and basements don't mix well; basement walls need to breathe to the inside in most situations.Instead, focus on AIR an barrier. Read on buildingscience.com.
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Old 01-27-2011, 11:47 PM   #4
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jklinger -- why? My company (not Concrete Treat) has been successfully doing this for over 20 years, in three countries, with hundreds of dealers. We collectively install literally millions of feet of vapor barrier on basements and crawl spaces and have never had any issues because of it.

Can you explain why basement walls need to breathe?


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VB's and basements don't mix well; basement walls need to breathe to the inside in most situations.Instead, focus on AIR an barrier. Read on buildingscience.com.
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:04 AM   #5
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I hear what you are saying. VB's in basements is the norm, but there are apparently too many "issues" surfacing, perhaps because of excessive moisture on the outside of too many walls. The best thing for anyone to do, as I am not an expert, is to read on buildingscience.com, greenbuildingadvisor.com, etc, and draw their own conclusions. That is why I list places like that. My own house has a VB (not sure about the basement; too long ago) and it is doing fine (I've done a few reno's and seen the insulation), but my new house will not have a VB (ie, visqueen) but will have a vapor retarding system and it will be air sealed impeccably (I hope). I just try to caution people about VBs, particularly if they are going to run air conditioning. Read on!
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:42 AM   #6
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I'll take a peek, JK. :-) However, I've been writing about basements and crawl spaces literally every day for more than three years as a full time web content writer. I've seen quite a bit of research about them, but I'm always interested in new perspectives and approaches. Of course, there are arguments on both sides of the fence, but I dunno. It's always seemed that the side that promotes vapor barriers has been much more thought through. I've talked with literally 40-50 operating contractors in person about the matter, maybe more.
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:15 AM   #7
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One possibility is the involvement of building codes into the discussion; there are several people including myself who try to reach beyond building codes - as they refer to basement insulation specifically - and who look on bc as bare minimum in this area because I believe this is an area where technology has taken great strides forward leaving the building codes behind trying to catch up, as it were.

Especially up here, in Zone 7 & 8; we now manage moisture better than we did even 10 years ago, so no longer does the old mantra "Put 6mil plastic vapour barriers everywhere" make any more sense. I call it progress. There a right way and a wrong way - based on what we now know; it's no longer 'the longest way' that is the only "correct" way...

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