Vapor Barrier in Walk Out Basement

Does anyone have an opinion on applying a plastic vapor barrier to stud walls (above grade) in a walkout basement? I have always been leery when seeing this on walls below grade (the concrete emits moisture which becomes trapped) but wondering if the same principal would apply to the framed walls above grade? I did confirm there is TYvek behind the vinyl siding at the exterior.

Thanks for any input.

No problem if it is above grade.

The insulation is upside down.


Yes the ceiling insulation appears to have been installed with the paper facing the wrong direction. It will make the report, debating how big of a deal I want to make out of it.

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Fiberglass sucks

Actually… that basement may be ‘conditioned’, therefore, if it is, the barrier/backing should be removed! it’s rare to find a ‘walkout’ that isn’t.

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Interestingly, there were no supply registers visible. They may have covered them up? The basement was about 55 degrees while upstairs was a nice toasty 70.

And that Kraft faced paper won’t make a damn bit of difference whether it is up or down.

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Marcel, my concern is possible moisture entrapment. Especially since there is such as huge temperature difference between the basement and living area upstairs. You would not report that it is backwards? I welcome your insight!

Posted a link in above post.
Another one here;

I never got overly excited in basements with the kraft faced paper down, because over the years I never seen a dam bit of difference in the application.
My own garage in 30 years that I have been here never shown any problems. It is covered with drywall, and discovered the facing was down one year working in the garage which is under the bedrooms.
You can take my opinion with a grain of salt, but to me that vapor retarder which is what it is, is not an affective vapor barrier.

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Thanks Marcel

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John, you also need to keep in mind that you are in the Chicago area, Marcel in Maine, Larry in Michigan (?), and I in Minnesota. Although similar climates, there are differences in each micro-climate that likely effects how each area’s homes are properly insulated, in addition to the homes individual construction design. Most other replies from milder climates should be acknowledged but disregarded, IMHO.

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In the past, I would suggest that they make razor cuts in the paper backing for less mess, if it was conditioned.

I guess it depends where the house is built. Up here in Canada it is normal to have an exterior basement wall for walkout to be insulated with vapour barrier.

The problem with the floor insulation is not which way the Vapor Barrier is oriented… it is the Fact that Exposed Paper which has a petroleum based adhesive>> Burns like Gasoline and should not be left exposed. To correct it they can do one of two things: Turn the paper facing up and install insulation supports so that it is physically in contact with the floor deck, Or remove the paper facing. There is a printed notice on every one of those fiberglass batts warning of the flammability of the facing. Anytime you see that paper exposed, call it out! AADSCN2182 facing

And here is a little tip when you see plastic on an exterior wall like this (or sometimes with Fiberglass in other areas) You may see streaks, splotches or other areas that may look a lot like Mold, but don’t jump to conclusions, usually what they are related to is dirt/dust left by air migrating through the plastic and the fiberglass acting as a filter. sometimes if you look really close the streaks will correspond to the where the plastic is stapled (holes). Fiberglass is a great air filter.