How to Install an Air Barrier
Last modified: 2019/02/20 | Approximate reading time 3 mins
When building a new home, air barriers are not always part of the equation. However, air barriers are crucial structures that assist in aiding with energy efficiency as well as maintaining a comfortable and cozy home environment.
Homeowners should be aware of the importance of air barriers, as the control of heat flow and moisture flow work with the physical elements of our home to create excellent indoor air quality, as well as impacting the longevity and performance of your home's surfaces, including walls, floors and ceilings.
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient or have noticed that heat has been escaping without explanation, then it’s time to get down to business and install an air barrier in your walls. There are various materials that can be used as air barriers, so we’re going to go over the process it takes to install them.
Here are the ways to install air barriers in your home!
Step 1- Choose your Materials
Plain plastic sheeting can be used as an air barrier for your home. There are specific products on the market, such as air barrier rolls, that are made for this project. Check for these at your local hardware store. Aside from a plastic or air barrier wrapping, harder materials such as gypsum board and plywood can be used.
The installation process for firm materials is slightly more complicated but will follow the same principals as the wrapping. Furthermore, these materials are higher in quality, and unlike house wrapping, will protect your home's frame from rot and mould. Keep this in mind when choosing a material for your air barrier. Other than the barrier material itself, you will require caulk, a staple gun and staples or a nail gun and nails as well as seam tape to complete the job.
Step 2- Choose a Location in Your Home for the Air Barrier
Choosing an area of your home to add an air barrier to will depend on where air might be escaping. Attics and crawlspaces are prime spots for leakage, but the seams between floors and walls is another. It is important to note that air barriers should be installed facing the living space, as you want to keep moisture and air out rather than locking it in. If you are installing the barrier over fibreglass installation, make sure that you do not compress the fibreglass, as it needs to remain fluffy to maintain its R-value.
Step 3- Install the Air Barrier
source: Flickr, Justin Maple
To install plastic air barrier wrapping, start at the corner of the room or surface you are working on. Make sure that the material you choose for your air barrier has no unnecessary cuts in it, as these will obviously allow air to escape. The only time this material should be cut is to make way for doors or windows, pipes, electrical outlets or anything else jutting out of the wall.
Make sure that your air barrier begins at the sill plate and runs along the wall as high as it can possibly go. If the barrier cannot reach the top plate, you must apply an extra layer. When installing the second layer, make sure that it is properly shingled to allow for water to run off instead of into the walls. If this step is done incorrectly, you will risk trapping water beneath the air barrier material. Make sure to have a minimum of a 6 -inch overlap between layers.
As you move along the wall, fasten the air barrier material in place. Only use enough fasteners, nails or staples to hold the house wrapping tight, as you don’t want to put any unnecessary holes into the surface. Further, make sure that if you are cutting a section of wrapping out to accommodate doors, windows or outlets, that you go back over these sections with vertical pieces of wrapping.
Using your seam tape, tape any openings closed and pay special attention to the footing, as the space between the walls and floors is one of the leakiest areas of the home. Make sure that this installation process is completed carefully! If you're unsure about the intricacies of this project, remember you can always consult a professional to help you get the job done. Soon enough, you'll have an airtight and comfortable home.
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