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It’s All About the Fold!

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After you stopped laughing at the contractor’s price to encapsulate your crawl space, you planned your DIY project by researching and ordering materials, and now you are ready to start the work.  A few hours spent preparing the crawl space and another hour preparing your materials outside the crawl space will save you twice the amount of time in the end.

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  1. Empty the crawl space. Really, everything but the furnace and pressure tank.
    1. Are you going to insulate the band board/rim joist area with spray foam? Do it as part of the clean out.  You don’t want spray foam all over your new liner.
    2. Clean it all out. Every piece of carpet and length of old door stop, the boxes, everything. You might be thinking, “it’s not going to be that big of a deal to move that small pile so I can put the liner there.”  It will add an hour, maybe more, and you will end up moving it 10 times.
    3. Leveling gravel is hard work. You should do it before you start installing liner.  The alternative is to get halfway done, rip out what you have already installed, level the gravel, and then start over.  It’s your call.  Thinking it won’t make that big of a difference?  Yeah, it will.
    4. Keep the crawlspace empty until you are finished. If you drag your rolls of liner and a box of project supplies into the crawlspace and start unrolling the liner, your project is doomed.  A roll of 20 Mil 12’ x 100’ weighs about 125lbs.  Most manufactures fold liner by length and width to produce manageable sized rolls.  Keep everything for the project outside near the crawlspace entry until it is needed.
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  1. It’s all about the fold! Cut your liner into sections and fold them so you can simply unfold them into place.
    1. Completely unroll and unfold your floor liner in a large open space like the lawn or driveway.
    2. Following your design plan, cut the floor liner into sections.
    3. With a section fully laid out, fold each long side over 1’. This is 1’ overlap that will go up the side wall or over/under the previous/ next section of floor liner.
    4. Next fold the 1’ wall overlaps at each end.
    5. Next, fold the width of the material in half, leading edge over the immediate seam edge.
    6. Finally, fan fold the length with the far end of the crawlspace on the bottom and the end closest to the entry on top. (I like to run two or three rings of cheap packing tape around each bundle to keep it folded and manageable)
    7. Label the section just in case your helper gets them out of order or turned over.

The goal is to have material ready.  Grab the next section, take it to the far end, unfold it easily and completely, double check your alignment, and double seal the seam.  Next section.  By folding all your 1’ wall and floor overlaps, lining up the next section is easy from the start.

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  1. A little comfort goes a long way. And, so does a little dirt management.
    1. If you are installing drainage mat under your liner, over gravel or dirt, install it first. Kneeling or crab-walking for the next few hours will be much easier on drainage mat then on gravel!  (Note:  The wall liner will go under the drainage mat.  But that is easy to do by just pulling up the edge of the mat and tucking the liner down flat.)
    2. You want the finished project to look great. So, if you don’t want to spend hours cleaning the liner after the install, a little dirt management goes a long way.  Most professional installers wear a disposable suit and boot covers until the drainage mat is installed so they can work on the liner in clean clothes and shoes.  Since you are at home, change your clothes and shoes.  Trust me, the white liners look great…  unless they are covered by dirt and dirty boot prints.

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