The building envelope of a home or cottage is essential to protect it from the elements, as well as providing energy efficiency.
Quality insulation that is properly installed by experts to exceed building code standards is a vital part of the equation. But that work begins long before the walls go up.
Installing insulation and a vapour barrier below ground is another critical part of creating a well-sealed home.
“People usually just think about their walls and roof when considering insulation and a vapour barrier,” explains Curtis Hinksman of Soundseals Insulation. “But resilient building protection begins with properly installing insulation and a vapour barrier below the floor slab.”
The foundation and floor slab are a ripe place for moisture, soil gases, and contaminants to enter a home or cottage, as they are pulled up from the ground and through the basement. Safeguarding this part of the building is key to a long-lasting structure and the health of the occupants, says Curtis.
Vapour barriers and foam insulation are laid directly on aggregate, sand or a tamped earth base before the basement slab is poured, or in crawlspaces with exposed floors.
When done right with a quality product, installing foam insulation, a vapour barrier, or both – depending on areas and needs – will protect against mold and other indoor air quality issues, flooring failures, degradation of building components, and radon and other soil gases and contaminants, all while providing improved energy efficiency.
“The high-performance vapour barrier we use is tough enough to withstand rugged construction environments,” says Curtis. “It has very low permeability, as well as being strong and durable to provide longevity. This gives our clients peace-of-mind that their investment and family are safe.”
Once you’ve determined that a vapour barrier is going to be installed, having experts like Soundseals Insulation do the job is the best choice. They’ll consult with the builder on timing and design to place the right amount of insulation and install the vapour barrier properly for maximum effectiveness.
“We want to make sure the vapour barrier is set where it will perform well and not affect the building process,” says Curtis. “Using the standard vapour barrier that you can purchase at a DIY store, even the thicker more expensive products, are not going to cut it. You need a vapour barrier that is specifically designed to go under slab, over gravel, or in a crawlspace to ensure that it stays intact and sound for years to come. It takes skill and knowledge to ensure it’s done right.”
A home or cottage is often the largest financial investment made by individuals and families; protecting it from the ground up is the wise decision to make.
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN