A vapor barrier is often used to refer to any material, typically a plastic or foil sheet, that resists diffusion of moisture through wall, ceiling and floor assemblies of buildings. Vinyl is the most common vapor barrier we come across in our work that is used as a finished building material inside homes and buildings. Vinyl is popular because it is easy to clean and durable.
When building materials become saturated due to a water intrusion, vinyl becomes the restoration contractors worst enemy. Vinyl does not allow the affected building materials behind the vinyl to release the excess moisture that is now trapped inside them. Our ultimate goal is to save all of the building materials that have been affected and prevent the onset of mold growth. The vinyl coverings (linoleum, VCT, and wallpaper to name a few) have to be removed or addressed before the trapped moisture can be released from the underlying building materials.
The picture below shows an Advanced Restoration Emergency Response Technician using his Tramex Non-Penetrating Moisture Meter to check the moisture content of the sheetrock behind the vinyl wallpaper that was detached from the wall to expose the unfinished sheetrock. After only 48 hours of drying the exposed sheetrock had a moisture content of less than 10%.
The picture below shows an Advanced Restoration Emergency Response Technician using his Tramex Non-Penetrating Moisture Meter on the same vinyl wallpaper just above the line where the vinyl wallpaper was detached in the picture above. The sheetrock behind the vinyl that was not exposed still had a moisture content level over 25%, which is unacceptable when it comes to the drying of wet building materials. This is because the moisture is being trapped behind the vinyl wallpaper.
The picture below shows one way Advanced Restoration installs drying equipment in a hallway where the walls are covered with a vinyl wallpaper.
In some cases, more steps must be taken to ensure that we do not have to demolish the saturated wall. Advanced Restoration strives to dry the affected building materials with the least amount disruption to the structure and/or occupants. Demolishing wet building materials just because they are wet is not in everyone's best interest. Below are two other examples of procedures we use to dry a saturated wall with a vinyl wall covering.
Drilling holes in the sheetrock below the detached vinyl wallpaper...
Using an Injectidry Wall Unit to inject air into the wall cavity to speed up the evaporation process...