Using a Vapor Seal when Insulating a Basement

Answered by Jeffrey ~ June 27, 2011 ~ Comments

Is a vapor seal necessary when insulating basement walls?

Norma Jean ~ Parma, OH

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Norma Jean.

There are two schools of thought on this issue and I subscribe to the one that feels the vapor barrier should be on the basement side of your insulation. Any exterior walls that will be covered by sheetrock or another type of wall covering during your basement finishing can have paper backed batt insulation installed between the framing studs. The paper vapor seal should face toward the basement.

However, if you have walls that will not be covered by a wall covering because that part of your basement is remaining unfinished, you can't use paper backed insulation due to the fire hazard it can create. In those areas you should use a foil backed insulation and if there are no framing studs, anchors can be shot into the concrete or block walls to hold the insulation in place.

While your contractor is doing your basement finishing, make sure they insulate up between the floor joists that make up your basement ceiling at the outside walls. There's a band board up there and because it can sometimes be difficult to see in that area, it sometimes gets missed when the basement is insulated. If the area is being finished and will have wall and ceiling coverings, use the paper backed insulation, but if it's an unfinished area, remove the paper backing before placing the batts between the joists.

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