Happiness. Short-term, stupid, self-interest.

Home Renovation – Ceiling insulation

November 2006

It was November and getting cold quickly. It was time to execute my plan for insulating the ceiling which I had done quite a bit of research on throughout the fall.


My plan called for using the highest R-value as I could in a cathedral ceiling, but the problem I had to overcome was the limited space I had to work with in the 2×8 joists. For one, a 2×8 is nominally only 7.5 inches (mine were closer to 7). Secondly, you need to leave 1-2 inches of room above the insulation to create an air channel. That left me with 5 inches of space.

In upstate New York, cathedral ceilings are supposed to be insulated with R-38 batts which are about 10 inches thick. The best I would be able to do would be a paltry R-19. If the joists were just a couple more inches, I could fit R-25 batts up there, but what I really wanted was a high density R-30 batt that is made for just this situation.

So, I made part of this plan to extend the joists about 2 inches by ripping 2x4x10 and screwing them to the existing joists. (ripping is length wise for those unfamiliar) And you want to screw these, not nail, because the final ceiling material will eventually be pulling down. You know… the direction gravity tends to go.

A special order through Home Depot fell apart when they told me it would come in until December, but luckily, Curtis Lumber had it in stock for just about the same price.

In order to do this efficiently, I also came up with a systematic plan to execute the plan. It required a lot of help from my wife, and even the kids. The first order of business was to spend a couple hours in the garage with my wife ripping 2x4x10’s, which was not an easy task.

Second, we made a template for one joist and tested that out, including the air channel and insulation. It took almost 3 hours to do one row. But after that, it was time for the assembly line and mass production which went like this:

  • Cut all the angles to length on the ripped 2x4x10.
  • Line them all up against a template and pre-drill all of the screw holes.
  • Start all of the screws and then put up two of them for one channel.
  • I cut and stapled the Styrofoam air channels into place while my wife cut the insulation. Staple the insulation up and then move on to the next row. (unfortunately, the insulation cut varied so we needed a measurement for the last piece)

With this, it only took about 4 hours to finish one side. (and that includes taking care of the kids)


(Note the fine ale sitting on my work bench.)





The Styrofoam air channel is a cheap and easy way to assure that the air flow will not be blocked between the eave and the roof vent.




And so it went, just as planned. (no really, this went just as I planned it)

This was the biggest milestone to date as the room was finally winterized. I surveyed the room so that absolutely every possible air leak was sealed up. You could turn up on the stove, sit on a stool, and drink a fine ale while watching the snow blow around outside without feeling a touch of cold. (though the snow never came until February)

It was time for the holiday break where I could take a break and start planning the next phases – I intend on being done by this same time the next year. After the new year, I could finish up the sheetrock with the warmth of the stove and take my time taping and mudding.


June 4, 2007 - Posted by | Home Improvement

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