How to Install a Shower Wall Vapor Barrier

Lead Image
What You'll Need
A vapor barrier roll
Seam tape
Wrecking bar
Safety glasses
Protective gloves

If you are a homeowner worried about the proper maintenance of your house, you should definitely consider installing a vapor barrier on your shower wall and following these tips.

A vapor barrier protects the overall construction from damage caused by condensation. The barrier blocks water, preventing it from reaching the structural frame. A barrier prevents the leakage of air through the walls, helping you manage the interior temperature better. You can easily install vapor barriers at home in order to avoid common problems caused by humidity, condensation, and steam. Here is how you can install a barrier in a few easy steps.

Step 1 - Preparation

Remove the materials of the existing shower wall. These materials depend on the age of your bathroom, but in most cases you will find drywall or lath and plaster. Removal is not difficult if you have a metal wrecking bar. If there are any windows, gaps, or doors, caulk them before starting with the installation. Check the wall cavities for rot or mold. If there is any mold, treat it with bleach and let the wall dry overnight.

Step 2 - Rolling the Barrier

The next step is easy; take the vapor barrier roll and roll it on the wall. It should be 2-inches below the footing. This will prevent water from seeping into the floor when it settles on the barrier. Make sure that you place a double layer of the barrier on all joints, because the joints are the vulnerable part of the barrier.

Step 3 - Attach the Barrier on the Wall

Nails or staple the barrier to the studs, keeping a 2-foot space between attachment points, to make sure that the barrier stays in place. Seal the seams using seam tape, which is specially designed for this use. Do not use any other type of tape, because you might allow the seepage of water, compromising the seams. Make sure that the plastic sheet is attached snugly to the studs of the wall so that you can smoothly install the wall materials over it.

Extra Tip

Use a polyethylene plastic which is specifically designed for residential installations of vapor barriers on walls. Be careful when installing the barrier because its improper use might cause additional moisture problems. Placing a vapor barrier around the shower wall will ensure a long lasting installation, but only if installed properly. Apply the barrier and then install cement boards to complete the wall. Do not use drywall or greenboard over the vapor barrier. These materials will not withstand the moisture trapped by the barrier. Cement board breathes, and will allow moisture to pass through to the vapor barrier and then evaporate back out through the cement.