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Community and Q&A

Moisture prevention for kitchen walls

datdood | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I am a new green building advisor user and a new home owner and I have little experience with construction or green building. I’m also VERY interested in making my house work for me and doing it as sustainably as I can afford 🙂 

*Currently doing recon for our kitchen update*

For context:
Ranch style home, built in 1951, CMU under some idk plaster??.. it isn’t stucco. – I don’t believe. All interior walls are also CMU with the same plaster over it. Aaand we live in the PNW, so it isn’t really a normal structure for this climate. 

We plan to update our kitchen sink, appliances (currently no hood, so ventilation as well), countertops, and upper cabinets. Right now, there is a vinyl board type backing (same material that is on the countertops) tacked to the kitchen walls that I want to take down so I can put shelves up. 

What materials should I use to replace the moisture barrier of the current and weird vinyl backing?

I think I want to use glass tiles, but what should go underneath to prevent moisture from kitchen use? Or… do I need anything more than just the stuff for tile work? Orrr… is glass tile over CMU a terrible idea?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. user-2310254 | | #1


    I'll reply to post to give you a bump.

    Just as a general comment, you don't want to install a vapor barrier. And I wonder if your exterior walls are covered with synthetic stucco. If so, things have probably held up well (so far) because the structure can dry to the interior.

    Just to clarify, you do not have framed walls on the inside of the block walls, correct? Your exterior walls do not have a layer of rigid foam underneath the "stucco," correct?

    1. datdood | | #3

      Thank you. It could be synthetic stucco? Is there a way that I could tell?
      Correct, I do not have framed walls inside my home
      Based on the cracks that have been repaired (by previous owner) and small hairline cracks that are visible now– I don't believe that we have rigid foam underneath the "stucco" on the exterior walls.
      Attached a pic of the exterior wall for reference. Interior walls look exactly the same.

  2. GBA Editor
    Brian Pontolilo | | #2

    Hi datdood.

    I have similar thoughts to Steve's. You should not need a vapor barrier (a class I vapor retarder like the vinyl likely was). Keep relative humidity in check with working exhaust fans in the kitchen and bath, use a dehumidifier if necessary. If there are no condensation issues in other parts of the house that didn't have the vinyl (backspash, I assume), that's a good sign.

    Any idea if there is insulation beneath the exterior "plaster?"

  3. datdood | | #4

    I'm thinking it is probably plaster... I attached a pic in my reply to Steve. LMK if that helps or if there is a better angle I could snap to provide more detail.
    The only sign of an issue with moisture is around the edges of our single pane windows. Mold seems to grows very slowly there if we don't keep on top of cleaning it up.


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