3 attic insulation musts

When adding new batts, positioning matters

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Mar. 23, 2012

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When adding new batts, positioning matters

Paul Bianchina
Inman News®

Q: I have 7 inches of insulation in the attic running between each rafter. I'd like to add another 6-7 inches. Would it make a difference if I placed the new insulation perpendicular to the already existing insulation rather than lay it the same way as the present insulation is now? Would that be better as far as keeping the heat from escaping from the below living area? --Paul R.

A: Actually, it does make a difference. Initially, your insulation batts were installed between the ceiling joists, which is normal. However, that means that the wood joists themselves are not covered with insulation. Since wood has a lower R-value than fiberglass insulation, there's actually a long cold spot running along each one of those joists, relative to the insulation alongside it. (It's one of the reasons why blown-in attic insulation creates a more uniform insulation layer).

By installing your new insulation batts perpendicular to the old ones, you now have the opportunity to cover and insulate the ceiling joists, and you're also covering any gaps between the old batts. So installing the new batts perpendicular to the old ones will definitely result in a better overall insulation job.

Remember to use unfaced batts for your new insulation so that you don't double up the vapor barrier, and maintain at least a 3-inch air space around older, non-IC-rated, recessed light fixtures, masonry chimneys, and anything else that produces heat.

Q: I am remodeling a bathroom. I do not want to remove the walls if I can help it. The walls have texture on them. How do we remove [the texture]? Or, better yet, can it be done? We want a smooth surface but are not sure we will be able to get it without putting in new drywall. --Jimmy B.

A: Your best bet is a combination of sanding and skim coating. I typically begin by giving the walls a light sanding. This removes the high spots in the texture, and also roughens the wall slightly. You can use a pad sander and replaceable sandpaper sheets intended for drywall work, which you can buy at any home center or hardware store.

Next, skim coat the walls with premixed drywall joint compound. You may want to add a little water to the compound to get it a little thinner and smoother. Use a 12-inch drywall trowel and apply the compound lightly and evenly over all the walls, just enough to fill in the voids between the high parts of the texture. Let it dry, then lightly sand again to get the desired smoothness. You may have to repeat the process to be sure the walls are completely smooth.

Once the final coat of compound is completely dry, dust or wipe the walls to remove any sanding residue. Apply a coat of drywall sealer, and once that's dry you're ready for painting.

Q: My front doors when closed have a gap between them where draft and light passes through from top to bottom. The problem is the gap is not equal all the way down. Some spots are real tight, which causes difficult closing of the doors in the middle. Also, the locks present a problem when closing the wooden doors. The top and sides of the door jam are not a problem.

I have tried narrow stick-tape foam insulation in between where the doors meet, but the adhesion on the stick tape-type does not last. Constant open and closing causes the tape to fall off. I even tried small nails and staples, but that did not help. Your solutions would be appreciated. --Cosmas P.

A: You mentioned doors, so I'm assuming this is a pair of doors. With double doors, you'll have one door that's normally the active door (the one you use all the time) and one that's the inactive door (the one that's almost always closed). Between the two doors you need to have a piece of molding called an astragal.

An astragal runs vertically the length of the doors, and looks like a "T" when viewed from the end. The vertical bar of the "T" is attached to the edge of the inactive door, and half of the horizontal part of the "T" overlaps on the outside of the inactive door. The active door closes against the other half of the horizontal part of the "T."

If your doors don't have an astragal -- and from what you describe, it doesn't sound like they do -- then you need to add one before you can effectively add weatherstripping.

To do that, the doors need to be carefully planed to create an equal gap between them that's wide enough for the astragal to fit into, with enough clearance for the active door to open and close without binding. After the doors are planed and the astragal is attached, you can then add weatherstripping to the astragal where the active door meets it.

If you're not comfortable with the process of taking the doors off their hinges and planing them correctly, consider hiring a handyman. Call a local door company and ask for a recommendation. It should only take a couple of hours to do the job.

Remodeling and repair questions? Email Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com. All product reviews are based on the author's actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

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1. Phoenix Windows said... on Jul 31, 2012 at 03:57PM

“The attic is often an overlooked and forgotten space, yet it can greatly affect the monthly energy bill. Also, installing dual pane windows is another great way to keep energy in and the cold/hot out.”


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