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Vapor Barriers 101

Whether you're shipping sensitive medical equipment, food products, pharmaceuticals, or electronics, your shipment is at risk of damage from jostling, rolling, shock, bumping, and more. And if your shipment is heading overseas, it can also be at risk of damage from corrosion, dust and dirt, oxidization, and many other contaminants that can affect everything from the functionality of electronics to the “freshness” of food products.


You can protect your shipment by using solutions such as foam inserts or corrugated boxes with corrugated cardboard partitions. For an added layer of protection when shipping by sea, whether domestically or overseas, smart shippers choose:

  • Desiccants (a substance that absorbs water)
  • Vapor corrosion inhibitors
  • or to a greater extent—vapor barriers 

Download our Corrosion Prevention Case Study

Corrosion Prevention  

What are Vapor Barriers?

Not to be confused with air barriers, which retard the migration of air, the function of a vapor barrier is to block the migration of water vapor. In the packaging and shipping industry, a vapor barrier prevents condensation, so moisture doesn’t accumulate on the part. Packaging and shipping vapor barriers can be as small as an 8"x12" pouch to a large bag that can hold appliances, construction equipment, computer equipment, and more.

Learn more about Vapor Barriers


What Types of Materials are used for Vapor Barriers?

In addition to coming in all shapes and sizes, a number of materials can be used to create effective vapor barriers including:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Asphalt-coated Kraft paper
  • Exterior grade plywood
  • Glass and metal sheets 
  • Metallized film
  • Paper-backed aluminum
  • Polypropylene
  • Polyethylene 

Some vapor barriers are made from multiple materials such as poly/foil laminate or "scrim-fabric" woven/foil laminate. Pouches, bags, and sheets made of polyethylene, foil, poly/foil laminate, or scrim-fabric/foil laminate are commonly used in packaging and shipping.

Some materials, such as poly/foil laminate, are inexpensive, lightweight, and offer good protection, while others, such as scrim-fabric/foil laminate, are more expensive, heavy duty, and offer superior protection. Foil laminates may consist of multiple layers and several materials as well including polyester, aluminum, and polyethylene!

Download our Anti-Corrosion Product Sheet
Anti Corrosion  

How Do I Choose the Right Vapor Barrier?

Because vapor barriers come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, as well as varying durability and prices, let a professional help you choose the right one for your packaging and shipping project. The professionals at Valley Box will consider the contents of the shipment, mode of transportation, destination, storage, size, quantity, and more when selecting the perfect vapor barriers for your shipment.

Topics: Flexible, Tips, Internal Tech

Valley Box Company

Written by Valley Box Company

Valley Box demonstrates what is possible beyond just the typical wooden box. This specialty packaging manufacturer works with a wide variety of materials from wood to plastic, corrugate, metals and more. Discover how to take specialty packaging to the next level.