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Community and Q&A

Interior Vinyl Coverings

Lindaloowho | Posted in General Questions on

Hello All!

After discovering a leaking shower, wet everything, mold, having to gut the washroom including ceramic tile, I’m shy to go with tile on the floor again. If I have an encapsulated / conditioned crawl space, I should be okay with a floating vinyl floor option over the tongue and groove subfloor (no plywood)? Or will it trap moisture? 

The walls and floor in this cottage (heated with gas fireplace and radiant heat) are not insulated. I was thinking of putting up a feature wall using “wood look” vinyl flooring. This is an exterior wall. Would that contribute to the air sealing of the wall, or be asking for trouble regarding trapped moisture between the existing drywall and the flooring on the wall? This product is a “click” floor with a thin cushioned foam backing on it. 

Thanks so much,

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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    Hi Linda,

    I will give your post a bump. I wouldn't be too concerned about vinyl flooring on the bathroom floor but would avoid putting this type of material on any walls. Like you, I would be concerned about moisture condensing on the back of the wall covering and promoting mold growth on the drywall's paper covering. If you are concerned about air leaks in the exterior walls, you could caulk the electrical outlets/switches (if any).

    Maybe any expert will offer a more definitive answer.

  2. Lindaloowho | | #2

    Thanks Steve!

  3. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #3

    Are you in a heating-dominated climate or a cooling-dominated climate? In a cooling-dominated climate the vapor barrier goes on the outside of the wall and the heat flow from outside to inside drives moisture inward. Anything on the wall that blocks the flow of moisture will cause it to be trapped in the wall. In a heating-dominant climate the vapor barrier should be on the inside so adding additional barrier isn't an issue.

    I love vinyl plank floor, but in a bathroom I would be careful. It isn't waterproof, and if water is spilled -- or rather, when water is spilled -- it will seep through into the subfloor and trap it there. I wouldn't use it in a bathroom without some precautions for the water that gets through it.

  4. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #4

    I wouldn’t worry about using vinyl flooring on the floor. There should be no issue there. Your floor is open on the crawlspace side, so you don’t have a moisture trap. You would will have potential issues with bulk water from a leak, but that’s common to many types of flooring and isn’t unique to vinyl planks. Note that if your concern with tile was due to moisture getting through it, Schluter makes an entire product line to deal with that and they have a good reputation.

    The wall is more of a concern. The vinyl flooring isn’t really an air barrier, because it’s planks so there are lots of potential leaks between those planks similar to how you have leaks between planks of tongue and groove material. The vinyl floor material is a vapor barrier though, so all the usual risks apply. The issue wouldn’t normally be with moisture accumulating between the vinyl planks and the drywall though, the issue would be with moisture getting trapped inside the wall and causing problems there. If you’re exterior siding is vapor open, then you have drying to the outside and you should be ok, but you’d be have to be careful in the future if you insulate those walls or change the exterior to something less vapor open.

    You may want to consider actual wood for your accent wall. There are lots of possibilities if you get creative, and wood isn’t a vapor barrier so you don’t have to worry about trapped moisture. You could potentially use cedar shakes or something like that. There are some places out there that deal in reclaimed wood that might have things you could use too.


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