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5 Tips For Choosing The Right Type Of Insulation For Your Older Home

Construction & Contractors Articles

With a little skill and careful planning, you can renovate an older home to give it better energy efficiency and a few modern touches without losing its original character. Prioritize the process of adding insulation to the walls and attic of your home during your renovation to make sure it's comfortable in addition to looking great. These five tips will help you decide what type of insulation to use and how to get the most out of it.

Balance Changes and Preservation

Before committing to a big renovation that involves opening wall cavities and potentially ruining plaster or stucco walls, make sure you're prepared to dramatically change the look of the home's interior. There's no guarantee that any insulation installation procedure will go smoothly enough to prevent damage to the walls. As long as you're willing to replace old walls with modern paneling or drywall in areas that develop cracks, you can move on to selecting the right type of insulation.

Pick the Right Spray Foam

Spray foam is a flexible option that is easily dispensed into finished wall cavities via very small holes that can be hidden in inconspicuous places. Unfortunately, standard foam insulation products spread so rapidly and with so much pressure that they're likely to crack the walls and cause them to balloon outward in an obvious way. There are specialty foams that expand with far less pressure and at a slower rate, but even the right foam can't completely eliminate the chance of wall damage.

These slow expanding foams can also send visible stains through the plaster, stucco, or paneling. Spray foam is more likely to succeed without visibly damaging your home's interior inside the attic, especially if you're applying it to the underside of exposed rafters instead of on top of a thin ceiling.

Think Again About Blow-In Insulation

Most insulation installers will suggest blown-in insulation products like loose fiberglass and cellulose clumps because it's easy to force into wall and ceiling cavities. While this is the most convenient way to install insulation in an older home, it still has disadvantages if the wall cavities aren't completely sealed from the exterior. Drafty walls lead to serious insulation problems like

  • Moisture accumulation from either indoor sources, like cooking, or exterior humidity
  • Ideal living space for termites and other insects to burrow in and nest
  • Cracking and distortion of plaster walls with insufficient lathing to handle the weight and pressure of tightly packed loose fill
  • Mold growth due to the mixture of dust and moisture found inside old wall cavities.

Stick with Classic Fiberglass Batts

Are you planning to open up any walls to add outlets, replace outdated wiring and plumbing, or give the rooms a little more space? Use these opportunities to insert layers of fiberglass batting instead of gambling with blown-in or foam products added while the walls are still closed. If you're set on the idea of using blown-in fill, at least have vapor barriers installed into the wall cavities while they're open to protect the new insulation from damage.

Try Rigid Foam Board

Finally, consider upgrading to rigid foam board for open walls and attics that are still easy to access despite their age. The rigid boards are easy to cut to fit very small openings, allowing you to add layers of extra insulation in areas where it's hard to access the interior of walls and floors. High quality panels are made with closed cell foam, which keeps out dust and moisture for a drier attic or wall cavity for the life of the insulation. These panels are easy enough to handle and cut yourself that you can renovate your own attic or basement space while leaving the wall insulation to the professionals.

For more information, contact a company like Mincin Insulation Service Inc.

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26 February 2016