How to Install Plastic Vapor Barrier


Vapor barrier materials are necessary for multiple reasons. The most obvious of these is that they keep moisture out of your home. Excess moisture build-up on exterior walls causes mold, mildew and attracts bugs and rodents. Moisture barrier material stops moisture from accumulating. It also prevents air to flow in and out of your home. Vapor barrier materials also help keep your energy bills in check. Polyethylene sheet plastic in either 4- or 6-millimeter thickness will do the job.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Rolls of sheet plastic
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Helping hands
  • Hammer tacker or staple gun
  • Plastic packing tape
  • Wall finishing materials
  • Measure the wall area that you plan to cover with vapor barrier plastic using a tape measure. Doing so will help you to know how much plastic to purchase. Buy at least twice as much plastic as your measurements tell you to buy so you will have plenty plastic to cover the walls with one solid piece and to provide for cutting and waste.

  • Open a roll of plastic and unroll it so the plastic will lay flat on the floor or over a large, level surface, such as a table or workbench. Using a utility knife or a sharp pair of scissors, cut a piece of plastic from the roll that is 12 inches larger than the first wall over which the vapor barrier will be installed.

  • Hold the sheet of plastic up to the exposed wall studs high enough on the wall to provide a few inches of extra plastic on all sides of the wall (top, bottom, left side and right side). Having someone help you with this will make the installation process easier.

  • Attach the vapor barrier to the wall studs with a hammer tacker or staple gun. Be sure the plastic sheet is tight against the studs and there are no wrinkles in the plastic.

  • Repeat Steps 2 through 4 for each subsequent wall. Use strips of packing tape to seal the corners between walls and the corners between the walls and the ceiling to create a tight seal.

  • Install wall finishing materials (drywall, green board, cement backer board) directly over the vapor barrier.

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