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Crawl Space Encapsulation Gone Wrong

  
  
  
  

Is your crawl space encapsulated? Does your crawl space look anything like this? Does it smell like old moldy sox, dead rodents or worse? Just because you have plastic sheeting on the floor doesn't mean your crawl space is correctly encapsulated.

What is the definition of "encapsulation"?

It is, "to enclose or to be enclosed in or as if in a capsule".  The idea being you want the crawl space to become sealed in a sense so it can keep out moisture, mold and hazzardous gases such as methane, radon, etc.

Tip #1: Use engineered plastic sheeting that is designed to hold up year after year- blocking out mold, radon, water vapor and the like. (Click here to see Crawlspace 1800, VaporBlock 20+ and more.) In the image directly below, a 6 mil "visqueen" was used.  Chances are good the home owner did this job himself.  He bought big box store plastic, and merely laid it on his crawl space.  This plastic is maybe 4 years old. It has torn, and started to decay.  Nowhere was this so called vapor barrier taped to the walls, and the seams were not taped  closed.

crawl space torn visqueen resized 600

Tip #2:  Tape the vapor barrier to the walls and colums. As you can see from the images below, the plastic sheeting is pulling away from the post. Somehow, laying it next to the column or post just doesn't do the job. You need to use a proper sealing tape designed for this job.

Tip #3:  See Tip # 1.  If you have a rocky floor you are sealing, you must select a vapor barrier that holds up to rocks.  It's even more important if you plan to store things in your crawl space, and people will be walking around down there.

Crawl space encapsulation nightmare! resized 600

Tip 4:  Properly tape the seams closed.  We recommend a minimum of  6" of overlap taped to the length of the seam.

Crawlspace encapsuation/ sealing done wrong

Tip #5:  Got Mold?  Crawl spaces are a breeding ground for mold.  Mold like dark, damp places to breed. It also likes the off-gases from visqueen. Don't waste your money on the wrong vapor barrier.  Make sure the liner you select won't decompose and let the mold take over your crawl space.

Tip #6: If you live in an area that has radon, please make sure you protect yourself and your family from the effects of radon.  VaporBlock 20+ is a heavy duty liner that is tested to insure it is the highest quality vapor barrier you can get to block radon and methane gas.

Crawl Space encapsulation

Tip #7: If you are buying a home that is brand new construction, make sure you have the builder provide you with proof that the home is radon free.

Aquaponics is Booming All Over The World!

  
  
  
  

Aquaponics is all the rage! It is booming all over the world! People are creating aquaponics systems out of aquariums and making grow beds lined with fish-safe plastic sheeting. Some state of the art facilities are taking SolaWrap- the bubble film that allows plants to grow like no other and creating a green house for aquaponics.

SolaWrap with Aquaponics

Below is a picture of a grow bed lined with Dura-Skrim 20WW.  It is our best selling film for use in Aquaponics! It is strong, and it won't kill your fish from toxic off-gasing.

Aquaponics trough ! resized 600

Where are some of the largest aquaponics farms you ask? One of the world's largest (reportedly) commercial aquaponics project is said to be in Abu Dhabi. The center produces 60,000 heads of lettuce in 21 days!  The image below is not from that farm, but from a farm in the United States. Check out that gorgeous lettuce!

aquaponics lettuce!

Aquaponics farms are cropping up in the most unusual places! Did you know the Hamm's Brewery building in St Paul MN utilized 6 floors to create a giant aquaponics facility?

According to Wikipedia, aquaponics has "ancient roots"...I don't think a pun was intended there...The Aztecs created and cultivated islands known as chinampas which some say was the first form of aquaponics for agricultural use. Plants were raised on isands in lade shallows and the waste material dredged from the Chinampa canals were used to manually irrigate the plants.

Thailand, South China and Indonesia cultivated and farmed rice in paddy fields along with fish to create early examples of aquaponics systems.

Schools are setting up systems to teach children about farming both fish and vegetables. It's a project that brings great pride and joy to school children. They can witness first hand what it takes to grow their own head of lettuce in water.

If you would like to know more about creating your own aquaponics system small or large, please call Ken Aguilar at Global Plastic Sheeting- 866 597 9298. He knows all about it, and he will be happy to help you.

Radon-Resistant New Construction- What is it?

  
  
  
  

So often new home buyers make the assumption that the brand new construction home they are buying protects them from radon. That assumption could be further from the truth.  Consider buying a home from a home builder that build radon-resistant new construction homes!

Block Radon from your home

More and more home builders across the United States are building new homes that prevent radon from entering the home. Home builder's have come to realize that their customers need a safer, healthier, radon-resistant home.  The EPA has launched a campaign that promotes the concept that living green is also breathing clean, healthy indoor air. It is environmentally responsible to chose to protect familys' from lung cancer.

What's the big deal about radon? Radon is extremely dangerous because it is odorless and an invisible gas that ranks as the number one home hazards for American homes, according to a Harvard University study. While radon dissipates outside in an open air environment, it gets trapped inside homes and buildings. Hazardous radon levels are detected in one out of 15 American homes. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.  The U.S. surgeon General has made January "Radon Action Month".

If you are buying an older home you can hire a radon professional to do an inspection. Find certified professionals with the National Environmental Health Association-National Radon Proficiency Program or the National Radon Safety Board.

Let's see how much you know about Radon! Answer these True or False questions.

  1. Radon levels within a building often change on a day-to-day basis. (True or False)  True: Because of changes and air pressure through-out the building during different times of the year Radon levels in the home can increase or decrease
  2. The highest indoor levels are often found during the winter when you are using heat to warm your home. (True or False) True: This is because during the winter months most homes windows and doors are closed with a thus creating for lack of air flow trapping Radon and other natural occurring gases inside the home.
  3. Short term test kits are the quickest way to test your home for radon. (True or False) True: They will give you a quick reading, but reading over time are more reliable.
  4. 24 hours is enough time to determine if your home has a radon problem.  (True or False)  False: You need at least 48 hours at a minimum.
  5. There are long term tests that remain in your home for more than 90 days, and are more effective than short term tests. (True or False) True because radon levels vary depending on the weather, etc.
  6. If a long-term test yield results of 4pCi/L or higher, the EPA recommends correcting the problem.  (True or False) True
  7. The best place to test for radon is n the lowest part of the home. (True or False) True:  Because Radon is a natural occurring gas created by decomposing Uranium underground the highest amounts of Radon Gases enter your home would be coming from the lowest point.
  8. It is smart to also test rooms that are regularly occupied such as a family room, den, etc.  (True or False) True- It's important to be safel in your whole house.

So you live in a state that has statewide Radon-Resistant New Construction- RRNC Codes? As of June, 2014, the EPA list the following states: Illinois | Maryland | Michigan | Minnesota | New Jersey | Oregon | Washington.

There are 18 states that DO NOT have statewide RRNC codes, but DO have local jurisdictions that have RRNC codes. They are:  Alabama | Colorado | Idaho | Iowa | Kansas | Missouri | Montana | NebraskaNew Mexico | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Pennsylvania | South Carolina | Tennessee | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

There are 24 states and 3 District/Territories that DO NOT have statewide or local jurisdictions that have RRNC codes. They are:  AK, AZ, AR, CA, CT, DE, DC, GA, GU, HI, IN, KY, LA, MA, MS, NV, NH, NC, ND, PR, SD, TX, UT and VT.

What are some of the things a builder should do to make a Radon-Resistant New Construction home?

1.  GRAVEL:  A layer of clean, coarse gravel below the foundation.

2.  Plastic Sheeting or Vapor Retarder: A heavy duty plastic sheeting or vapor retarder over the gravel to inhibit radon and other soil gases from entering the home. What is the best vapor barrrier that is specifically engineered to block radon, and has the tests to prove it?  VaporBlock 20+. This vapor retarder/barrier far exceeds any 6 mil polyethylene plastic.

3. A Vent Pipe:  A vent pipe installed vertically from the gravel layer through the house's conditioned space and roof.  This safely vents radon and other soil gases outside hte hosue.

4. Sealing and Calking: Sealed all openings, creacks and crevices in the concrete foundation and walls with polyurethane caulk to prevent radon and other soil gases from entering the home.

5. Junction Box:  Installed an electrical junction box (outlet) in the attic for use with a vent fan, should, after tesing for radon, an more robust system be needed.

 

RRNC check list radon

 

Check out the EPA's website to learn more about controlling radon in your home.

 

Be The Guardian Of Your Home

  
  
  
  

Ever since mankind began building homes, cities and countries they have always looked for ways to protect them from harm. With this came the originals of the Sentinel.  From antiquity to the modern era, the Sentinels were the guardians of the realm; protecting those in it from invading armies and marauding raiders looking to cause havoc and destruction to one’s home.

Now the days the marauding raiders are long gone but we still need to protect ourselves from the forces of nature that can cause harm to our homes and our health.  Everyday gases like water vapor, carbon monoxide, and radon come up from the earth and into our homes; which if not controlled can cause series problems to our homes but worse to our health.  All of these gases are naturally occurring, and have been proven to cause severe respiratory health problems and even loss of life if not monitored or controlled.

Part of our ongoing goal at Global Plastic Sheeting is to provide solutions for controlling dangerous gases that invade our living conditions.  We have developed  Sentinel XS Radon Vapor Barrier. Just like the Sentinel has always been the guardian at the gates, Sentinel XS Radon Vapor Barrier can now protect us against harmful radon. 

Sentinel XS Radon Vapor Barrier resized 600

Sentinel XS Radon Vapor Barrier is a 5 layer barrier engineered to have low permeability, extreme strength om a very durability material.  Sentinel XS Radon Vapor Barrier blocks out radon and water vapor even during extreme seasonal temperature changes.

Sentinel XS Radon Vapor Barrier is available in 4’, 8’, 12’ and 20’ widths.  Please feel free to contact us any time with your questions.  866-597-9298.

Be the Guardian of your home with Sentinel XS Radon Vapor Barrier!

HDPE for Bamboo

  
  
  
  

HDPE to the rescue when it comes to bamboo roots! How do you guard against Bamboo?  More and more bamboo is becoming a popular alternative to wood.  Why you might ask?   Simply Bamboo is more sustainable than trees.  Bamboo is more sustainable because unlike trees where the who tree has to cut down to be processed thus making it so another tree has to be planted to take replace it; however bamboo can be harvest without damaging the original plant.  Also bamboo can regenerate itself within 3-5 years where a new tree can take up to 30 plus years to grow to a harvestable size.  Also Bamboo is harder and lighter than most woods.  Bamboo’s tensile strength has been compared to that of steel.

However Bamboo cultivation does have one drawback.  Bamboo grows fast!  Because of Bamboo grows so fast its root system is ultra-aggressive and cause problems for things surrounding it, such as other structures and other peoples’ property. 

  1. Damage to structural foundations
  2. Growing into a neighbors’ yard causing for safety hazards because of Bamboo’s Rhizome (root system) is very sharp and cause bad injures to people.
  3. Over taking of other species of vegetation due to rapid growth.

These damages can cause for major finical hard ships.  Not only in fixing the damage but lawsuits that can stem from damages caused by bamboo.

These situations however can be prevented by installing a 60 – 80 mil thick Smooth Surface High Density Poly-Ethylene (HDPE) Root Barrier to contain bamboo.  Because of bamboo’s aggressive nature and that the roots of bamboo are extremely sharp thinner materials are unable to contain bamboo.  The HDPE Root Barrier act as a deterrent re-directing the Rhizome to stay within the contained area set up for the Bamboo to grow in.

Installing a Root Barrier is simple.  First you will need to dig a trench a 24” – 30” in depth for the root barrier to be installed into.  Making sure you do give the Bamboo enough area to grow in with the contained spot. This will insure that the Bamboo will flourish in contained environment and not cause problems with its surrounding area.

Crawl Space Vapor Barriers to Protect Your Health and Your Home

  
  
  
  

Crawl space vapor barriers that look like a roll of regular old plastic sheeting aren’t something that people don’t generally discuss at backyard barbeques! For most home owners, the thought of buying plastic sheeting only comes to mind when they about ready to start that long awaited home improvement project and they want to protect their floors, furniture, countertops and other valuable things around the house.  One thing that never really comes to mind is buying plastic  sheeting also called, crawl space vapor barriers, to protect the most important thing in their home; their health.

True or False:  The Surgeon General has warned that smoking is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today.   (False- radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today).

Every day tiny radioactive radon gas molecules migrate through many homes across the county. Depending on what part of the country you live in really makes a difference.  Unfortunately we can’t smell, taste or know that those stealth radon gas molecules can be causing long term health problems for us.  Radon is a cancer causing radioactive gas that naturally occurs from uranium deposits decomposing in the ground.  The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/news/2005/01/sg01132005.html  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General’s Office have estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths are caused each year by radon.


True or false:  An elementary school student that spends 8 hours per day and 180 days per year in a classroom with 4 pCi/l of radon will receive nearly 10 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows at the edge of a nuclear power plant.                         (true)

Most U.S. EPA lifetime safety standards for carcinogens are established based on a 1 in 100,000 risk of death.

True or False:  Most scientists agree that the risk of death for radon at 4 pCi/l is approximately 1 in 100.

(True)

So what can you do to protect your home from Radon gas? First of all you should test your home to see if you have high levels of radon.  The US EPA, Surgeon General, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, and National Safety Council recommend testing your home for radon because testing is the only way to know your home's radon levels. There are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon. It typically takes years of exposure before any problems surface.

Is there a crawl space vapor barrier that can combat deadly radon?

For many years homeowners and contractors alike have chosen to just use 6 mil plastic from the local hardware store with a radon mitigation system that blows the gas away from the home to lower radon levels.  However, what most people don’t know is that is not all crawl space vapor barriers  are equal and that the plastic sheeting liner they bought from the their local hardware store or that the contractor is not meant to block out any type of gases.  Over time the radon gas that is not being vented out will slowly build back up in your home.

There is a life saving solution!  Six years ago a revolutionary product was introduced called Vapor Block Plus 20.  Vapor Block Plus 20 is the first and still the only product on the market proven to block out radon gases along with water vapor that can cause mold over time which also can lead to many respiratory issues as well. 

Vapor Block Plus 20 is a seven-layer co-extruded barrier made from state-of-the-art polyethylene and EVOH resins to provide unmatched impact strength as well as superior resistance to gas and moisture transmission. Vapor Block Plus 20 is a highly resilient under slab, vertical wall barrier, and crawlspace vapor barrier designed to restrict naturally occurring gases such as radon and/or methane from migrating through the ground and concrete slab. Vapor Block Plus 20 is more than 100 times less permeable than typical high-performance polyethylene vapor retarders against Methane, Radon and other harmful VOCs.

Many plastic companies and contractors will claim that the plastic they offer will protect you against radon so please ask questions:

Ask to see data sheet on the plastic.

Look for Radon Diffusion Coefficient test data on the data sheet. (If this is not listed then the product has not been tested to block out radon)

Also stand firm.  Don’t let anyone talk to you into something you know isn’t right.  Remember it does not matter how much experience a company says they have with mitigating Radon. You must insist on seeing the data sheet. When it comes to your health you must use the crawl space vapor barrier that is proven to block those hazardous gases.

Crawlspace Encapsulation- The Right Way!

  
  
  
  

Do it Right the First Time- Have you ever heard this used in terms of crawlspace encapsulation?

Crawlspace encapsulation

What about,  “You get what you pay for” or “if you’re going to do right do it right the first time.”  When it comes to encapsulating the crawlspace to keep moisture out of the home nothing rings more true than these expressions.

Crawlspace Encapsulation Misconceptions:

The most common mistake that is made in crawlspace encapsulation projects is in selecting a vapor barrier.  Most homeowners just know they need to get the humidity level down in their homes so they will not have mold problems in the future. They have heard that laying plastic down in crawlspace will help with this problem.  People head out to the local hardware store or calling an in-expensive handyman who knows how to install plastic in a crawlspace to quickly solve the problem.  However what most homeowners don’t know is that has not fixed the problem but instead have just set themselves up for greater expenses down the line.

What??? My Newly Encapulated Crawlspace isn't Fixed?

What you may not know is that plastic is not just plastic.  The 4 & 6 mil visqueen we have all come to know well does have a place in the home improvement world when it comes to temporarily blocking off rooms you don’t want dust to fly into or covering up your furniture from getting messed up, but it does not have a place in crawlspace to protect you from moisture coming up from the ground.   The problem with 4 & 6 mil visqueen you can buy at any local hardware store is that it is made from recycled plastic products thus making it inexpensive.  The problem with this inexpensive visqueen product is that because it is made from recycled resin it degrades fast.  In fact visqueen starts to degrade 6 weeks after being exposed to the elements in your crawlspace.  Also because visqueen is made for recycled resin it does off-gas those giving mold spores food to grow on.  Thus in 3 to 5 years homeowners will have to replace this liner in their crawlspace and once again shell out more money to fix a problem such as moisture in their home.

What Plastic Sheeting Vapor Barriers Should I Use?

Well like they say “if you going to do it right do it right the first time.”  This means do a little homework and not rush to fix a problem with a quick fix.  First select a good Vapor Barrier for your Crawlspace.  When looking for a good Vapor Barrier for your Crawlspace you should look for a liner that is made from Virgin Resin.  This is the most important thing because Virgin Resin Vapor Barriers will not break down over time and also don’t off gas making it so mold can’t grow on the barrier itself.  There are many different types ranging in thickness from 8 – 20 mils in thickness depending on your crawlspace needs.  Using a Virgin Resin Vapor Barrier in your crawlspace will ensure that you only have to encapsulate your crawlspace once and that your home will be safe from further moisture problems.

What are some good brand names to look for?

Use what the professionals use: Dura-Skrim, Poly-Scrim and Vapor Block. How do you know these products will do the job? Ask for data sheets that will show you whether the vapor barrier passed the tests (ASTME) for doing the job properly. If you live in an area with radon, now your life depends upon getting the correct vapor barrier that has a tight knit cell structure to keep the radon at bay.

Aquaponics Plastic Liners For Organic Certification

  
  
  
  

If you are looking to have your aquaponics farm have an organic certification, what plastic liner should you use? You may want to start by researching Dura-Skrim 20WW or NDT 24

Let's start by examining what it means to be, "Organically Certified".  Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers, etc.  The organic certification verifies that regardless of where your farm or handling facility is located in the WORLD, your operation complies with the USDA organic regulation.

If you plan on going for Organic Certification, you have a detailed road ahead of you.  Sometimes it takes trial and error, and this could be very costly in the scope of things.  When dealing with organic certification, it is our belief to ask for permission on the material you plan on using.  Yes it is important to do all of your homework and be prepared and educated on the process.  But sometimes things will fall in to “gray” areas,  in these cases, it is best to reach out to the organizations that certify and tell them exactly what you are doing.  Things to remember when you do this.

 For example, if you wish to use Dura Skrim 20ww or NDF 24 as a liner for your grow beds:

 Show the data sheets to your certifying body and tell them exactly what you wish to do.

  • Get it in writing
  • Have them sign off
  • Make friends
  • Ask about pitfalls and valleys that they may see coming

By being straightforward with them, they will soon realize that you are trying to comply with all and any regulation.  Truth and approval PRIOR to installation is the key.  If they know you are trying to be perfect they will be happy to help you.  It is there job to maintain the quality levels and they want to do a good job. Just ask them for help and they will almost always help you. 


NFPA 701-04 Test 1 versus NFPA 701-04 Test 2

  
  
  
  

NFPA 701-04 Test 1 versus Test 2...What's the difference?

Being in the Plastic Sheeting business, numerous questions have been raised about the difference between the NFPA 701-04 Test 1 and  NFPA 701-04 Test 2 for plastic sheeting passing the proper certificationsto meet the fire safety codes. 

We went to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Popagation of Textiles and Films handbook to briefly explain the differences. To quote from their website (http://www.nfpa.org/)

Test Method 1 shall not apply to specimens having an areal density greater than 700 g/m2 (21 oz/yd2).

Test Method 2 (flat specimen configuration) shall be used for fabrics, including multilayered fabrics, films, and plastic blinds, with or without reinforcement or backing, with areal densities greater than 700 g/m2 (21 oz/yd2).

In other words, black fire retardant plastic sheeting in the 4 mil or 8 mil does not have enough density to qualify for this test.

NFPA is an international nonprofit organization that was established in 1896. It's mission is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other harzards by providing  in part codes and standards for fire prevention.

Plastic Sheeting...The Many Uses For Flexible Polyethylene

  
  
  
  

You sell what? Plastic Sheeting? What do you mean, “Plastic Sheeting” they will ask. You mean like the hard plastic you see in signs? No… You mean like the plastic sheeting that is in Las Vegas that covers tall building advertising Celine Dion?  Well yes you are getting closer. “How else can you describe the plastic sheeting that you sell” they will ask.  How about this, “Our plastic sheeting is like a GIANT roll of Saran Wrap, only its 6 feet wide by 100 or more feet long.”  Then the light starts to come on- sort of.  At this point they visualize one type of plastic sheeting- such as visqueen that they see at a home improvement store! 

plastic sheeting rollplastic sheetng rolled out

“What does one do with this roll of plastic sheeting” is the next question! I go on to explain that Global Plastic Sheeting doesn’t just sell one type of plastic sheeting- we sell a large variety of engineered plastic sheeting or flexible polyethylene.  When you throw in the words, “engineered plastic” you have really done it now!  “WHAT”?? You see, plastic sheeting is designed to work specifically for the surface or job it is intended for. “HUH”?? It’s kind of like seasoning for cooking.  Do you use just one type of seasoning for all the food you prepare? Or do you have different seasonings that are designed to enhance the type of food it will be added to? It’s like that with plastic sheeting. 

TEMPORARY SURFACE PROTECTION

If a person is painting the interior and exterior of a house, or a contractor is working in a hotel, they want to make sure they don’t damage the floors, carpets, countertops, wood railings, etc. with paint drops or spills.  Each one of these surfaces can be optimally protected with a plastic sheeting film that is designed just for it.  Let’s take the countertops.  Do you want workmen to put their bulky tools, or painting trays on the beautiful granite counter tops without protecting them?  No.  You want to make sure that what is protecting the counter won’t slide off, or allow paint to seep through it.  Properly protecting counters calls for a product called, GPS Countertop Plastic. plastic sheeting for counter This plastic sheeting is sticky on one side, so the contractor can adhere it to the surface of the counter and be assured it won’t slip off until he/she removes it.  Self adhesive plastic sheeting for countertops has specially formulated adhesives that are strong enough to stick to the counter, but not so strong that it won’t come off at the end of the job!  You need an adhesive formulation that won’t ruin the counter- whether it is Corian, marble, granite, tile, etc. The GPS Countertop Plastic is an engineered film, meaning it was engineered in the lab to make sure that it would property protect the counter without doing any damage, or leaving any glue or adhesive behind.

Now, let’s think about the carpeting.  Carpeting is very expensive to replace. Professionals and informed home owners know that it is a very cost effective measure to put self adhesive GPS Carpet Plastic down on the carpeting so nothing can get through to the carpet and ruin it. Do you think the adhesive in the GPS Carpet Plastic is the same formulation as the formulation for the hard countertops? Of course not!  Once again you need an engineered plastic film that will allow adhesive to be applied to one side so it will stick nicely to the carpet. This adhesive is stronger than the adhesive for the counters due to the nature of the carpet fibers.  Again this is an engineered film because research had to go into making sure that the adhesive formulation would not leave any glue or adhesive residue on the carpeting when it is pulled up.  Why do professionals use self adhesive GPS Carpet Plastic instead of drop cloths?  For several reasons.  For one thing, once you put the GPS Carpet Plastic down, it’s not going to slip or inadvertently slide off the carpet exposing the carpeting to potential damage.  Plus, have you ever knocked over a paint can, or stepped in the pan? Trust me, you want a plastic sheeting product that won’t let the paint get through to the carpet.

CRAWL SPACE (Crawlspace) AND UNDER-SLAB VAPOR BARRIERS (retarders)

So now at this point I hope you are starting to get a feel for what engineered plastic sheeting is. Let’s take it one step further.  Have you ever thought about why wood floors don’t warp or get ruined when they are placed on concrete slabs?ruined floor How is it that the ground water under the concrete isn’t permeating the concrete and ruining the wood?  Once again we have an engineered plastic sheeting vapor barrier that is placed under the concrete so it can block the water that naturally wants to rise to the surface.  Can any plastic hold up in that environment year after year?  Absolutely not!  A lot of time and money went into designing all different types of vapor barriers that will retard vapors from rising from the ground.  And another consideration is creating or engineering a vapor barrier that can also block methane gas, radon gas, and other dangerous gases that cause lung cancer. A vapor barrier must be engineered with a very tight cell structure to stop the gas molecules from penetrating the plastic sheeting, also called a vapor retarder. WOW what an invention!  Most people will comment that they never once gave a thought to needing a vapor retarder that goes under their home of office building.

Another place where plastic sheeting is used extensively is in crawl spaces or basements.  People who live in the part of the country that have crawl spaces and basements are all too aware of needing plastic sheeting to encapsulate their crawlspace. The crawlspace is often smelly or musty smelling.  When a contractor puts down a crawl space vapor barrier/ retarder it will keep the water from seeping up into the crawl space.

Additives for Plastic Sheeting:  Fire Retardant Plastic Sheeting

When you bring up “fire retardant plastic sheeting” the eyebrows seem to go up.  “What?? Plastic can become fire retardant….NO WAY” is often the comment.  “How is that possible?”  Once again, the reason there are so many varied types of plastic sheeting is because polyethylene can accept additives to its formulation.  A fire retardant additive is added, and voila- fire retardant plastic sheeting is here to serve applications that require fire retardant materials.  Where is fire retardant plastic used?  Lots of places-Ship building, aerospace, hospitals, commercial building projects, theatre, haunted houses to list a few.  Any place where a fire could be an issue, and where life and limb are at stake- fire retardant plastic sheeting is a must.  So much so that the fire marshal will inspect and make sure the plastic is fire retardant.  What confuses some people is that when a fire retardant sheet of plastic is exposed to a flame, the plastic won’t be a fuel source for the fire.  It will merely melt and extinguish.  If you would like to see a video of this, click here and watch as we put a blow torch to a piece of regular non-fire retardant plastic, and a fire retardant piece of plastic.  Seeing is believing!

What are some of the other additives that are added to Plastic Sheeting? 

Anti-Static Additive:  This additive is added to our Anti-Static Fire Retardant plastic- or ASFR-6.  The Anti-static additive resists static build up. The reason this is necessary is because unlike so many common every-day items that have an equal number of positive and negative charges, friction can cause the plastic to become electrically charged. If this happens sparks can happen which will damage electronic devices. ASFR-6 doesn’t allow dust to stick to it. This matters in abatement applications

UV Stabilizers:  So often plastic sheeting/ liners are used outside in direct sun light. The UV from the sun is a direct enemy of the plastic.  The sun’s UV will decompose a liner pretty quickly over time.  UV stabilizers give plastic sheeting a much longer life outside.

Color Additives:  While you may not stop and think about it, plastic sheeting comes in a rainbow of colors.  The most common colors are black and white, but other colors prevail.

These are just a few of the additives that can be added to polyethylene to engineer its performance to suit the application.

THICKNESS OF PLASTIC SHEETING

The next topic that seems to come up is the thickness of the plastic sheeting. “Is it all the same thickness- or are there different thicknesses”?  When you haven’t given a thought to the flexible film industry before- how could you know if there are varying thicknesses of plastic. The answer is, “yes”.  Plastic sheeting goes from 1 mil all the way up to 100+ mils thick.  A “mil” is a measurement that equals one-thousandth of an inch, or 0.001 inch. For example, most human hair is one-thousandth of and inch thick.  It then goes to follow that a 6 mil film (plastic sheeting) is thicker and is 6-thousandths of an inch, or 0.006 inch. Does thicker mean stronger?  Is a 10 mil liner stronger than a 6 mil scrim (String) reinforced liner?  OH OH!  Let’s take this a little further….

Not only can plastic sheeting have fire retardant additives added but it can be manufactured in layers.  In the middle of 2 layers, and can a layer of scrim (String).  This is applied in a pattern. The Dura-Skrim plastic sheeting products put their heavy duty scrim in a diagonal pattern space 3/8” apart. They then add an additional machine direction scrim every 9” across the width. Why?? The string or scrim as it is referred to addes a great deal of strength to the film.  When an application needs enhanced tear resistance and a long life for the plastic sheeting, adding the scrim makes the difference. What happens is the string/scrim responds immediately to tears and surrounds the tears and stops them. Applications that appreciate string reinforced plastic sheeting are ones where you want a thinner film such as a 6 mil that can still do the job of a heavy duty plastic sheeting product.  Dura-Skrim 2 is a champion for use in construction enclosures, temporary walls, temporary covers, and much more.

PLASTIC SHEETING USED IN AQUAPONICS AND WATER FEATURES:

aquaponics plastic sheeting

What happens if you want to line a fish pond with plastic so the water won’t seep back into the earth?  Will any old liner do the job? What things must you consider when building a pond? One of the first things that has to be established is whether you will be adding fish to the pond. Did you know that common plastic sheeting can leach bad chemicals into the water which can kill your fish?  Have you thought about how robust a liner you need depending on how rocky the ground is where you are putting the liner? You also need to think about whether animals such as deer will be walking into your pond.  If they are, you need a strong liner that won’t puncture when their hooves dig into the pond liner. This is one more example of why there are so many varieties of plastic sheeting product engineered for the application.

GREENHOUSE PLASTIC SHEETING

Oh that’s right. You have seen countless greenhouses that have roofs made from plastic sheeting!  They are everywhere! What if a green roof film was made similar to bubble wrap, but with industrial strength?  What could be accomplished by adding bubbles to plastic sheeting? What you would get is a product called, SolaWrap! bubble green house roof Engineers long ago discovered that by adding the bubbles you could attain a R-vale of 1.7, with a transparence of 83%. With 83% diffused light you will have plants that flourish!  What else does this plastic sheeting need to do it’s job as a green house roof?  It needs UV additives so it can last 10 years!  The film needs to be strong enough to support a snow load!  Look what can be done by making some additions to the standard polyethylene film!

HEAT SHRINK WRAP

GPS heat shrink wrap

Have you ever stopped to realize that those building that you see surrounded by plastic sheeting are being done so with “Heat Shrink Wrap”?  How genius it was to discover that you can formulate the plastic in such a way that when you add heat to it, it shrinks and envelops the object it is surrounding!  Heat shrink wrap is used for wrapping yachts, boats, bridges, US Navy ships, scaffolding, all sorts of packaging for shipment and more.  When you see a building wrapped, this is because the construction crew may want to protect the interior from the elements. It also makes for a warmer environment to work in during the winter months.

This article just barely scratches the surface regarding “plastic sheeting”.  It’s quite an expansive product line that serves aerospace, aquaponics, automotive, FEMA, haunted houses, ice skating rinks, maritime/marine industry as well as the packaging arena.  The best part of this product is the fact that it can be manipulated to best serve the customer.  One can decide how much adhesive they want added to the plastic depending on what it needs to stick to.  Plastic sheeting can be made with a very tight cell structure, or one that needs to breathe.  It can be stiff or flexible, withstand the cold, heat, wind, sun, etc.  As much as plastic takes a lot of heat for harming the environment, engineered plastic is here to serve and protect as they say- the surfaces they are used with. Ground water is protected with HDPE liners, and roads use plastic sheeting to capture the dirty oily water that comes off the road, and direct it to a place where it can be filtered before in enters the earth.  Many plastic can be recycled as well. Our goal is to provide the very best plastic sheeting made in the USA to perform it’s designed duties it was designed for.

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