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A125
Vapor Barriers Under Concrete Slabs Guidance for Selection and Location

Brian M. McCaffrey, P.E.

This one-hour course provides guidance on selection of vapor barriers to be placed under concrete slabs for vapor and moisture control. The advantages and disadvantages of the location of the vapor barrier, either directly beneath the concrete slab or under a granular base and concrete slab, will also be discussed. Additionally, this course provides a template for a vapor barrier specification and discusses how a vapor barrier can earn LEED credits for building design.

A vapor barrier is one of the most critical building components used to prevent indoor air quality issues and minimize moisture-related concrete slab and flooring system failures. Proper selection of a vapor barrier based upon the criteria of low permeance, high tensile strength, high puncture resistance, and chemical resistance will ensure that the vapor barrier not only performs as an effective barrier to moisture and other vapors, but will also maintain its physical integrity during the placement of the concrete slab.

Problems with the concrete slab can potentially occur if the concrete is poured directly on top of the vapor barrier. If the concrete will be poured directly on top of a vapor barrier, choosing a high-quality, low-shrinkage concrete with a low water-cement ratio, properly finishing the concrete, and reducing joint spacing will minimize potential problems with the concrete slab.

This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.


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