A serviceman installs a vapor barrier on the ceiling in a basement

Crawl spaces are common in homes located in flood-prone areas to prevent water damage. The water collects in these spaces before it can enter the house. 

So, it makes sense to follow proper precautionary measures to ensure the crawl spaces in your home function effectively to protect you, your family, and your property.  

It’s great if you’re thinking about installing vapor barriers with the same thought! 

Your next question must be—how much does a vapor barrier cost to install in crawl spaces? Is it less or more than the cost of encapsulation?

Well, let’s discuss. 

How Much Do Vapor Barriers Cost to Install in Crawl Spaces?

The cost of expert vapor barrier installation can range from $1,200 to $4,000, with an average of at least $2,000. These figures include the price of the materials. On the contrary, installing a vapor barrier without professional help will require an investment of no more than $100-$500. 

Remember that different materials warrant different levels of installation expertise and skills.  

In addition, keep in mind that poor installation may lead to moisture-related issues in your home (mold growth, pest infestation, and poor indoor air quality), which will result in costly repairs. Chances are, you’ll have to hire an expert to do the install after your experiment goes wrong.  

Average Cost of Crawl Space Vapor Barriers

We can’t tell you the fixed cost of installing a vapor barrier because it can vary significantly depending on the condition of your crawl space, materials used, and project size. 

It also depends on whether you’re taking the DIY route (as long as you’re not claustrophobic) or hiring professionals for the job (recommended). 

To install vapor barriers yourself, you must measure the square footage of your crawl space to buy the appropriate amount of liner and have in-depth knowledge of the steps involved in installing the sheets with wall insulation.    

You’ll most likely use sheets of reinforced polyethylene plastic for your project. 6mm is the ideal thickness for crawl space vapor barriers, ensuring sufficient durability without burning a hole in your pocket. You can expect to pay $20 to $25 for a 10’ x 25’ sheet and up to $145 for 20′ x 100′. 

Whether you install a vapor barrier in your crawl space yourself or hire an expert for it, rest assured that the total cost will be less than that of encapsulation

Factors Affecting the Cost of Vapor Barriers

Below are the top five factors you must consider when determining the vapor barrier cost for your crawl spaces. 

Size of the Crawl Space

A larger space will require more material and labor, so it’ll be more expensive. However, even a small crawl space can be pricey to vapor-proof, depending on its condition.

A picture of an unfinished crawl space of a home, with spray foam insulation on the underside of the floor.

Condition of the Crawl Space

The cost will be lower if your crawl space is in good condition and there’s plenty of room to install the vapor barrier. On the contrary, if the area is in poor shape with water damage, mold, or other problems, it’ll be more expensive to vapor-proof. 

The workers must take extra precautions to ensure the job is done correctly and may need to use unique materials designed for complex spaces. Either way, you can expect to pay more for a crawl space in poor condition.

Location of the House

Properties in high-humidity areas tend to have severe moisture problems compared to climates with low humidity. If humidity is an issue in your house, you must expect to pay a little more than others.

Cost of Materials 

A hardhat, roll of vapor barrier, and staple gun sitting atop a piece of OSB

Vapor barrier cost depends mainly on the material you choose.

Generally, you can select from the following options, including:

  • Reinforced polyethylene – the most popular material for crawl space vapor barriers because of its durability
  • Unreinforced polyethylene – this material doesn’t have string reinforcement, which is why it’s less durable.
  • Plasticized aluminum liner – this material comes from a thin woven liner and plastic film mixed with aluminum. Unfortunately, it isn’t very durable either and can easily incur damage with seam tapes and supports. 
  • Coated woven crawl space liner – consists of woven polyethylene ribbons for extra stability. However, this material is prone to damage when scratched by a sharp object. 

As you may have guessed, reinforced polyethylene is the most popular choice among experts. You can easily get a 20′ x 100′ sheet of this material for less than $150. 

You’ll also need construction seam tape to seal the vapor barriers in your crawl spaces. A 180-foot long roll may cost you around $50. Typically, tape costs between $120 and $200 for an average crawl space. 

Labor Fees

If you decide to hire experts to install vapor barriers in your crawl space, their installation fees will contribute to the overall cost. To ensure you don’t pay more than you should, talk to multiple contractors and compare their quotes before making the final decision. 

Typically, the estimates from a professional team will include:

  • The cost of materials and equipment
  • Transportation costs to and from your home
  • Mobilization and demobilization fees
  • The cost to prepare the site and protect existing structures
  • Post-project disposal and cleanup costs 

Additional Costs

Some costs not included in the contractor’s fees that you may have to pay to them include:

  • The cost of testing and remediation of potentially hazardous materials
  • Sales tax on materials and equipment imposed by the government 
  • The cost of removing, repairing, relocating, or treating plumbing and electrical systems
  • Permit or inspection fee required by the building department or county
  • A 15-23% markup for contractor supervision 
  • Drainage system repair costs between $2,000 and $4,000 (if an issue is identified)

Apart from this, you may have to invest in a dehumidifier if your home is in a high-humidity area. The chances for this are slim because vapor barriers don’t usually require it, but it’s best to discuss it with the experts on the job. 

A homeowner opens the water collection chamber of a dehumidifier to empty it

Nevertheless, if you need one, you must expect $600-$2,000 added to your overall vapor barrier cost.

Investing in Vapor Barriers to Ensure Safety and Integrity 

You must view the cost of crawl space vapor barriers as a small investment that’ll pay off in the long run by protecting your home from moisture damage and improving its insulation. By keeping moisture out of your crawl spaces, you can avoid costly damage to your home and belongings, prevent mold and mildew growth, and improve the air quality in your living space. 

We recommend working with reputable experts to ensure your project is a success and won’t lead to unnecessary repairs and moisture issues in the future. Also, don’t forget to compare quotes from different teams in line with the services offered to find the best deal possible. 

Also, consider that several factors combine to determine the final vapor barrier cost. Discuss everything in detail with the chosen professionals and ask questions so there’s no room for confusion or assumptions. 

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