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Crawl Space Encapsulation Products- How to choose the right one!

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Wed, May 25, 2016 @ 01:55

Do it Right the First Time- Have you ever heard this used in terms of  crawl space 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: Poly-Scrim  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.

Tags: Crawlspace encapsulation

Does Fire Retardant Clear Material Exist?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Wed, May 25, 2016 @ 01:38

Question:  I am looking for a fire retardant clear material, with no print or design, to be used in a stage set scenery.  Do you have any product that might fit the bill?

Answer:  What ?? Flame resistant plastic sheeting, really? Does it come in Clear, white, black?  Flame resistant flexible plastic comes in white and black, but it does not come in clear when it is made from polyethylene.  The reason being that the fire retardant/ flame resistant additive is white! It is common to find this plastic in a  Black plastic sheeting that is fire retardant?  Why would anyone want it, and what advantages does it offer me? What makes the GPS Black Plastic Sheeting any different than what I can get at the home improvement stores? Why is it important to use during Halloween for example?

FR Global Plastic Sheeting

First, polyethylene is highly combustible in its natural form, and makes what Fire Marshal's deem a "VERY EXCITING FIRE"once it is on fire.  Because polyethylene is made from oil and natural gas based compounds, it is highly flammable, and burns at very hot temperatures. 

Polyethylene is used everywhere.  If you keep your eyes open, you will see it every day- on construction sites, in homes and offices, black plastic at haunted houses, flea markets, warehouses are full of it, packing supplies are made from it, toys, auto parts, most foreign cars (just threw that in for giggles!), anyway you get the picture.  Poly makes a fire burn much hotter and faster, and is an accelerant.  This causes people to get hurt, and unfortunately, in numerous cases every year, people lose their lives because of plastic sheeting or other types of plastics. This is why FR plastic is important for Halloween. If people have a candle or a lighter, you don't want the plastic catching fire. It's important to buy an FR plastic that is certified as Fire Retardant. There are I am sure you can all remember hearing of fires in night clubs, where  plastic caught fire, and many people were trapped.  This is avoidable, and with some education, people can make choices that keep these tragedies from happening.

Through chemistry, the plastic industry has been able to make most polyethylene, regardless of form (even most foreign cars) using plastic that is deemed "Flame Resistant".  First, let's get an idea what this term means.  Making a highly combustible material, like polyethylene, Fire Retardant (FR)  or Flame Resistant means that we take away its ability to contribute significantly as a fuel source in a fire.  This can be done at various levels and there are countless tests available today to help certify the levels of just how FR these products have become.  Some of the most popular are the NFPA 701, ASTM E-84, UL-94, California Fire Marshal Title 19, just to name a few.

To simplify this, additive packages are added to the resins used to make polyethylene products causing the finished product to be fire retardant. 

Today, we are able to engineer the additive levels so that the products can pass the FR tests needed for most applications and industries.  A  few applications for FR polyethylene that did not even exist as little as a decade ago are such things as: Black Polyethylene Sheeting (Black Plastic Sheeting) for haunted houses, House wraps, Vapor Retarders, Construction Tarps, Enclosure Films, Abatement Plastics, Automotive interior parts, FR tapes, Airplane Covers, Military Applications Galore, Temporary Shelters, Humanitarian Aid,  Cargo Covers, Surface Protection Films, Pallet Covers, Heat Shrink Wrap, Theatrical Plastics used on stages, Dog show plastics, Industrial Plastic Sheeting, Spray booths, and the list goes on and on.

The reason for the increased popularity in FR polyethylene over such a short period of time is that the increase in fire safety is so substantial, and the cost difference is so small that it just makes sense.  When fires strike, and they strike often, using FR products of any type keep the loss of property to a minimum, and more importantly the loss of life and injury as small as possible.  More and more specifications are calling for FR products, and this is a great thing for all of us.  After all, when was the last time you checked to find out if that house wrap they used to build the walls of your house was Fire Retardant?  Please watch for future posts on this subject, because this hot topic is just heating up.

 

If you have unique questions, call 866 597 9298 and ask for Lee.  You may contact him by email- just click here.

Tags: Clear Fr material, FR vinyl

NFPA 701-15 or ASTM E-84 What's the Difference?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Tue, May 24, 2016 @ 04:09

ASTM E-84 

ASTM E-84 is intended to provide only comparative measurements of surface flame spread and smoke density with that of select grade red oak an fiber-cement board survaces under the specific fire exposture conditions. Simply put, ASTM E-84 measures the flame spread and smoke index, which are considered the surface burning characteristics of a material. 

Depending on the numbers, materials can have classifications of Class A, B, or C according to NFPA , ANSI/NFPA No. 101, "life Safety Code" , 2006 Edition, or IBC (International Building Code), 2006 Edition, Chapter 8, Interior Finishes, Section 803,  if they pass any level of this standard.  The test is conducted in a fire tunnel using a 22" x 24' sample of the material.  The ignition source is 7 seconds in duration, total test is 10 minutes.  The flame front cannot exceed 24" during the test.  Results are expressed as Flame Spread Index, and Smoke Developed Value.  Following are the criteria for each level of this test, regardless of whether NFPA or IBC.

For products that pass these criteria

Class A, Flame Spread 1-25, Smoke Developed Less than or equal to 450

Class B, Flame Spread 26-75, Smoke Developed Less than or equal to 450

Class C, Flame Spread 76-200, Smoke Developed Less than or equal to 450.

Please note, this test is comparable to UL 723, ANSI/NFPA No 255, and UBC No. 8-1

NFPA 701-015 Test 1 or 2

NFPA 701-15 (the most recent revision of the NFPA 701) measures the mass before test, mass after test, mass loss percentage, the number of seconds of any burning drips, and the after flame of the material in seconds during and after a specified burn period at a specified flame temperature.  Once the flame is extinguished the after flame in seconds is measured.  10 samples are tested, 5 in the machine direction, 5 in the cross direction (also known as warp/weft respectively).  This test is a Pass/Fail test based on the following criteria.  If the material fails any of the following criteria, it fails the test

Mass Loss: 40% Max Average or Average + 3 standard Deviations Max Individual

Drip Burn/Afterflame: 2 seconds Max. Avg. 

Thickness of Plastic Sheeting- How is it measured?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Mon, May 23, 2016 @ 03:54

 We are often asked what the "True" thickness of polyethylene (plastic sheeting) means. The plastic sheeting (engineered films) industry is somewhat unique in that lots of terms get used. "True" means that a film that says it is  6 mils in thickness will measure at that thickness of 6 mils by a micrometer. People in this industry understand that most films are +/-10%, so in the case of 6 mil, a 5.4 mil is commonly accepted as 6 mils.  When films are reinforced, meaning they have strings running through the film, then the film is often measured at the thickest point, where the reinforcement crosses.  Some of these films are as low as 3 mil between the reinforcement grid, yet are sold all day long as a 6 mil film.

There are films that are "true" 6 mil films. One of our films is called, PolyScrim 6.  This reinforced film measures at 6 mils.  Another example of a "true" 6 mil film is, Anti-Static Fire Retardant 6 mil.  It's important to note that plastic sheeting can be made to a multitude of thicknesses to suit the application's needs.  For example, plastic sheeting liners (geomembranes) that are used in landfills need to be really strong- and thus call for a thicker plastic than a job that isn't is rugged. 

If we look at the terminology behind the thickness of plastic sheeting, it starts with the Greek alphabet.  The Greek letter µ when by itself stands for micron. This term has recently been superseded by micrometer or µm. The thickness of plastic (plastic gauge) is expressed in microns.  1 micron = 0.0254 mm =1 millimeter = 1 mil = 1µm.

If you consider the application for the plastic film, now not only does the thickness comes into play but the additives that are added to make the film perform for it's intended use. For example, often people need plastic that is fire retardant- so a 6 mil film won't do the job, unless it is certified as fire retardant. The same goes with whether a film will be in the sun.  Without UV inhibitors, a regular piece of plastic won't hold up over time to the sun regardless of the thickness.

There are so many things that go into making an engineered plastic film. Feel free to call us anytime to learn more. Thank you- 866.597.9298

Plastic is Plastic Right? Are there any differences?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Mon, May 23, 2016 @ 03:44

In the world of engineered plastic sheeting there are a variety of terms that are used freely in conversation and in the written word. Terms such as "low density polyethylene" or "Polyolefin vs Polyethylene". Below is a brief explanation of commonly used terms.

Low Density versus High Density- what's the difference?

HDPE.png  ldpe.jpg

 Question:  What is the difference between low density and high density polyethylene?

Answer: The biggest difference is how closely the molecules bond to each other in the structure of the product.  High density has a lot more molecules in the same amount of space.  This causes high density to have different qualities when compared to low density.  For instance, High density of the same thickness will be stronger, more puncture resistant, more tear resistant, tougher, stiffer, more chemical resistant, than a low density polyethylene made from the same grade of polyethylene. Low density polyethylene is a softer material, more pliable, more conforming.  These are general types of polyethylene.  Within each type there are varying quality levels, additives, and much more science to vary the products from their natural states to give them the qualities needed for the applications.

 There are many reasons why one might be used in a given application, compared to using the other.  Call866.597.9298 if you would like a further explanation. 

Plastic Classifications

Question:  What are all the classifications of plastic?

Answer:  Polyethylene is classified into several different categories based mostly on its density and branching.

  • Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene(UHMWPE)
  • Ultra low molecular weight polyethylene(ULMWPE or PE-WAX)
  • High molecular weight polyethylene(HMWPE)
  • High density polyethylene(HDPE)
  • High density cross-linked polyethylene(HDXLPE)
  • Cross-linked polyethylene(PEX or XLPE)
  • Medium density polyethylene(MDPE)
  • Linear low density polyethylene(LLDPE)
  • Low density polyethylene(LDPE)
  • Very low density polyethylene(VLDPE)

Polyolefin and Polyethylene- What's the difference

  1. What is the difference between Polyolefin and Polyethylene?
  2. Polyolefin is a material that is made of only carbon and hydrogen atoms. When the Polyolefin molecule is bonded in a more complex manner, then you have a variety of materials made from the polyolefin material.Polyolefin materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polybutene have more complex olefin branches than simple polyolefin. 

For example, Polybutene is a liquid polymer used in sealants, synthetic rubber and lubricants.  Polyethylene is used to make products like shrink wrap, and a variety of plastic sheeting products.  Polypropylene is a hard resin used in carpeting, food packaging and electronics. Don't be confused if a plastic sheeting product is referred to as a "polyolefin". Saying it is a polyolefin does not imply it is a superior plastic. After all, now you know that plastic sheeting is made up of Polyolefin.

How do you measure a mil?

Question:  How do you measure a mil?

Answer:  For plastic sheeting, the industry uses an instrument called a micrometer.

How thick is a mil and what is it?

Question:  How thick is a mil and what is it?

Answer:  A mil is a unit of length equal to one thousandth (10-3) of an inch (0.0254 millimeter). It is used in the plastic sheeting world to define the thickness of the film.    

1 mil    = 0.001 in

1 mil    = 0.0254 mm

1 mil    = 25.40μ (microns)

Another way to look at it is, 20 mils = .508 mm which is thinner than the thickness of a dime (10 cents) which is rougly 1.24461mm.

GRI- what does it stand for?

Question:  What does GRI stand for regarding 12 mil polyethylene sheeting or various vapor barriers/retarders?  The Geosynthetic Research Institute.

For example you might see, GRI=GM22 standard specification which is a test method that specifies the required properties and testing frequencies for scrim reinforced polyethylene geomembranes that are used in an exposed (out doors) application. It establishes minimum physical, mechanical and durability properties that must be met.  The GRI GM22 cover scrim reinforced poly geomembranes in thicknesses of 0.50 mm (20 mil), and 0.20mm (8 mil). This spec represents manufacturing quality control (MCQ).

For more information please visit the GRI's website.

Polypropylene- Is it different from HDPE?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Tue, May 17, 2016 @ 02:45

polypropylene- Is it different from HDPE? Yes it is.  To begin with, polypropylene is also called, "polypropene".  it is a thermoplast polymer which is made from a monomer called propylene.  Like HDPE it has a wide variety of applications such as packaging, labeling, textiles, ropes, stationery, automotive components and more.  Like HDPE it is rugged and usually resists man chemical solvents and acids.  

Density Differences:

Several things differentiate polypropylene from HDPE.  Density is the first factor.  The density of polypropylene is between 0.895 and 0.92 g/cm².  High Density Polyethylene  is known for it's big strength-to-density ratio.  The density of HDPE can range from 0.93 to 0.97 g/cm³.  HDPE can be more rigid as a result.  polypropylene, because of its lower density is used for molding parts with lower weight and more parts of a certain mass of plastic can be produced.

Temperature Differences:

HDPE has a working temperature of 212 degrees F to 200 degrees F. Polypropylene has a melting point between 266 degrees F to 340 degrees F.

U.V. and Chemical Resistance

Polypropylene has good chemical resistance like HDPE but it has poor UV resistance -unless it is stabilized with additives.  HDPE is resistant to many different solvents and has a wide variety of applications. It protects the environment by forming a chemical-resistant barrier to prevent the pollution of soil and groundwater by the liquid constituents of solid waste.

A lot has been written about both HDPE and Polypropylene. Please visit the web to learn more about these very versatile plastics.

 

Tags: HDPE

Polypropylene- Is it different from Polyethylene?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Sun, May 01, 2016 @ 01:01

How is Polypropylene different from Polyethylene? Well.....

polyprop structure resized 600Poluethylene structure resized 600

Polypropylene, also know as polypropene is a form of plastic just as polyethylene is. What separates polypropylene from polyethylene for starters is the fact that polypropylene can be molded in essence becoming pliable above a certain temperature. When it cools it will return to its solid state. Polypropylene can be used not only as a structural plastic, but it can be used as a fiber. It also has a high melting point, which differentiates it from polyethylene. One area where polyethylene has over polypropylene is that polyethylene is more stable. Polypropylene has the advantage that it can take repeated motions such as being a hinge.  A hinge made out of polypropylene can be opened and closed many many times, and hold up just fine. This is known as having "good resistance to fatigue". MORE

Polypropylene can be combined with other materials, as can polyethylene. Rubber for example can be added, to make it more pliable.  One of the exciting additives that is added to polypropylene are minerals. These minerals allow a polypropylene sheet to become a synthetic paper.  synthetic paper is essentially plastic paper.  It can be easily printed on. It can be folded, hot stamped, die cut, sewn and more.  Best of all it is environmentally friendly! All of a sudden polypropylene is transformed into a slew of products. Synthetic paper made from polypropylene is used to make banners, membership cards, maps, menus, phone cards, signs, tags, floor graphics, counter mats, and booklets. The list goes on from here!  What is outstanding about synthetic paper is that is is durable, tear and water resistant!(Products made from polypropylene)

Polyethylene has more demand however than polypropylene. Polypropylene is used extensively in the automotive industry as well as the packaging industry. 70% of the polypropylene  uses is for packaging needs for the food industry. It can be made into bottles, food containers, food crates and pallets.

Polypropylene is used to make house wears, appliances and toys. It is also used to make make carpeting and upholstery. The polypropylene is heated and made into fibers. There are so many uses for both polypropylene and polyethylene.

Polyethylene is inert, translucent and creates a lower static charge than polypropylene. That makes polyethylene a candidate to be a sleeve to house collectible documents.  It is "inert" and cannot product mold or mildew.  It is also translucent in nature so it allows less light through it than polypropylene.  It has a lower static charge than polypropylene so it attracts less dust and dirt.  Polyethylene costs more than polpropylene because it has a higher purity (100% virgin).

Here is a list of some of the differences between polyethylene and polypropylene: 

  • Polyethylene and Polypropylene are very similar as far as physical properties.
  • However, Polyethylene can be produced optically clear where polypropylene can only be made translucent like a milk jug.
  • Polyethylene does have physical properties that allow it to stand up better in cold temperatures, particularly when using it as signs.
  • Polyethylene is a good electrical insulator. It offers good tracking resistance, however, it becomes easily electrostatically charged (which can be reduced by additions of graphite, carbon black or antistatic agents).
  • Polypropylenes are light in weight. They have a high resistance to cracking, acids, organic solvents and electrolytes. They also have high melting point and good dielectric properties and are non-toxic.
  •  Monomer of polyethylene is ethylene and monomer of polypropylene is propylene.
  • Polyethylene has a lower melting point compared to the higher melting point of polypropylene. (this may be a good test for you)
  • Polypropylene is not as sturdy as polyethylene.
  • Polypropylene is stiffer and resistant to chemicals and organic solvents compared to polyethylene.
  • Polypropylene is pure, non-stretching and generally more rigid than polyethylene.

Tags: polyethylene, polypropylene