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Vapor Retarder vs Air Barrier..what's the difference?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Mon, Jun 27, 2022 @ 09:58

What is the difference between a vapor retarder and an air barrier? 

A vapor retarder's mission is to control the entry of water vapor, or various gases into the buildings they are protecting.  Air barriers role is to control the movement of air through the building assembly.  There are some instances where an air barrier system may have a rubber membrane on the exterior of a masonry wall installed which will make for an effective air barrier and have it the characteristics of a vapor retarder.

Permeability to water vapor is the key physical property which distinguishes vapor retarders from other materials.  Polyethylene liners or any material which retard water vapor to pass through them are considered impermeable. The beauty of polyethylene is that it is a non-hygroscopic material. It does not change its permeability no matter what the relative humidity is doing.   

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Tags: non-hygroscopic, air barrier, permeability of a vapor barrier

Fire Retardant Plastic Sheeting- Can it be clear?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Mon, Jun 27, 2022 @ 09:56

We get many requests for clear, fire retardant plastic sheeting, or clear anti-static fire retardant plastic sheeting. What people need to understand is the additives that need to be added to the polyethylene that make polyethylene fire retardant turns the plastic into a whitish color. When the additives are added to make it anti-static, it makes the film even whiter. There is no getting around this.

We have 6 mil Anti-Static Fire Retardant film on the shelf, but it is fairly opaque, definitely not clear. 

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Tags: Anti static fire retardant plastic, clear FR plastic

Fire Retardant Black Plastic Sheeting- 6 mil- 8 mil and more

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Fri, Jun 24, 2022 @ 03:07

What ?? 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?

Black Plastic Sheeting for HalloweenFR 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 cerified 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 "Fire Retardant".  First, let's get an idea what this term means.  Making a highly combustible material, like polyethylene, Fire Retardant (FR) 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, Housewraps, 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 housewrap 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.

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Tags: Fire Retardant Black Plastic Sheeting

Plastic Sheeting used in containment in construction and remodels

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Thu, Jun 23, 2022 @ 09:23

Have you ever considered the possible impact of containing construction activities, large and small with the use of plastic sheeting?  First, this can save a large amount of time and money on each project, as the mess is contained to a minimal area, where it can be thoroughly cleaned.  If the surfaces are protected within the containment with self-adhesive surface protection or other protective covers, then cleanup time can be kept to an absolute minimum.

 Customers, neighbors, Cities, EPA, are much happier if construction mess is contained and kept to minimal levels. Contractors benefit from this happiness, both financially, and with a better reputation, making referrals for future projects much easier to get.

When heat shrink wrap is used on large projects to contain the area, the workspace can be heated to extend the "season" for many construction activities. Shrink Wrap Workers are more productive, because they can't see what is going on outside of the containment, and do not interact with the public.  Worksites are more secure, and safer.  The jobsite is also much less of an eyesore, and produces less impact on the environment.

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Tags: Containment, shrink wrap, heat shrink wrap

Crawl Space Vapor Barriers- 4 mil, 6 mil, Class 1....Help!

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Tue, Jun 21, 2022 @ 10:54

Crawl Space Vapor Barriers...Your Questions Answered

  • What are crawl space vapor barriers? A crawl space vapor barrier is a specific type of plastic sheeting/ membrane that works to prevent the infiltration of water vapor from passing through to the surface above.
  • Crawl Space Vapor Barriers key considerations:  Permeability of water vapor, tensile strength of the film, and puncture resistance. All three matter to do the right job.
  • Is thickness the only thing to consider when selecting a crawl space vapor barrier? Absolutely NOT! To truly prevent water vapor from passing through the plastic sheeting/ vapor retarder, it must be high-quality plastic  sheeting that is not made from recylcled plastic. This plastic is called "virgin plastic" or "engineered plastic". Next you want to get a "Class I Vapor Retarder". This means that the plastic sheeting/ liner has been tested in a laboratory for ensure that a maximum of 0.1 perms of moisture to pass through. 
  • Does "Tensile Strength" matter? YES! Will the liner resist gettingpunctured during installation? Tensile strength is measured in pounds (force) per inch, and is tested by applying stress to the material that simulates some of the loads a vapor retarder will face during installation. If the liner gets punctured it's compromised.
  • Does "Puncture Resistance" matter? Puncture resistance addresses how well the vapor retarder material withstands impact with blunt objects. Vapor retarders are subjected to impact by a rounded falling dart, which is intended to roughly simulate some of the hazards of construction.
  • Class A, B or C..what is that?  These classifications have to do with the permeability, tensile strength and puncture resistance. 
    • Class A - Maximum of 0.1 perms, minimum 45 lb/in tensile strength, 2200 grams puncture resistance.
    • Class B - Maximum of 0.1 perms, minimum 30 lb/in tensile strength, 1700 grams puncture resistance.
    • Class C - Maximum of 0.1 perms, minimum 13.6 lb/in tensile strength, 475 grams puncture resistance. 
  • How to Choose a crawl spce vapor barrier thickness.  We recommend that you consider more than just the thickness of a crawl space liner when making your decision. Remember, the key ingredients for a properly functioning crawl space liner is- Permeability,  Tensile Strength and Puncture Resistance.
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What is the difference between 4 mil and 6 mil plastic? 3 mil vs 4 mil?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Tue, Jun 21, 2022 @ 09:47

Mil Thicknesses:  4 mil vs 6 mil.  3 mil vs 4 mil...are we splitting hairs?

How thick is 3 mil plastic, 4 mil plastic? What does mil mean? Is 3 mil or 4 mil thicker?


When it comes to selecting plastic sheeting for various applications, understanding mil thickness is crucial. Mil, short for millimeter, is a unit of measurement used to express the thickness of plastic sheeting. Each mil represents one-thousandth of an inch or 0.001 inches. While the differences between 3 mil, 4 mil, and 6 mil may seem small, they can have a significant impact on the sheeting's strength, durability, and suitability for different tasks. I

A "mil" is a measurement that equals one-thousandth of an inch, or 0.001 inch. Most human hair is one-thousandth of inch, or 0.001 inch = 1 mil. There are 1000 mils in an inch.  To convert inches to mils, multiply the inch value by 1000.   As you increase the mils from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on, the thickness goes up or increases.  The bigger the mil "usually" the stronger the plastic sheeting. There are exceptions to this.

When you add string or scrim as it is called to the plastic a 6 mil string reinforced plastic sheeting film is stronger than a regular 6 mil plastic sheeting film.

                                How do you know if you need a 3mil film, a 6 mil film and so on?

Check this chart out....Or you may call us and we will assess your situation and make suggestions.

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