1st floor closed cell foam installation

This has been a very long time coming. It almost feels like our entire project is revolving around this closed cell foam insulation issue. Well, not just that, but insulation in general.

It all started with our research into various insulation options at the beginning of the project. The research helped us in the decision making process regarding what insulation assembly to use.

And that was just the brain work, which was followed by a seemingly endless task list of preparations that began with masonry repairs. We needed to fix the brick work around one of our bedroom windows, adjust the size of the kitchen window, take care of some window headers and repoint the masonry in a couple locations on the 1st floor.

Once that was done, we installed the new windows, prepared around all those windows we decided to keep for a few more years, and installed a new front door.

The framing preparations awaiting us just kept piling on. We got the bathroom floor repairs done, and took care of the plumbing walls.

To have enough room for the insulation we relocated a number of closet doors, framed out all perimeter walls, and installed furring strips at the stairs in the hallway.

We installed the drain-waste-vent (DWV) plumbing so that we could seal the utility wall between the floors with insulation and began to take care of the ventilation preparations.

One of the last tasks was to eliminate the thermal break around the perimeter of the 2nd floor. This work was literally identical to the preparations on the 1st floor, from the cutting of a 3 inch thermal break gap, to plugging the gap with foam board insulation.

I think we are now ready for the spray foam insulation. We’ll better be, because the installation crew is knocking at my door!

We started with the two inches of closed cell foam along the stairs. This area was the exception because of the spatial restraints we had to accommodate.

The rest of the perimeter walls received one inch of closed cell foam, which gives us the desired air seal around the building envelope.

To get to the targeted insulation value of R-28, we need more insulation than this.The next layer will be open cell foam. But before that gets installed, we will have to continue with a few more preparations. Yep! There are more tasks waiting for us…


About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

2 thoughts on “1st floor closed cell foam installation

  1. Why did you choose to do Closed cell and Open cell insulations? Were you worried about moisture build-up in the masonry from outside? I have a 100 year old building that I am thinking of spraying, but am cautious because of the moisture. I want to use the closed cell for the strenght to secure some of the loose bricks.

  2. Michael, every building is different, even every masonry building is different and the decision whether to use SPF or not has to on a case by case basis. Good moisture management in the masonry wall is very important when considering insulating with SPF. See also:

    Insulation – starts with moisture management

    It may be helpful to look up the following blog posts that chronicle our insulation decisions. May be you find more information there that may help you in your decision making process:

    Insulation – how it started
    Insulation – lots of conflicts
    Insulation – starts with moisture management
    Insulation – which material cuts it
    Insulation – how much is needed
    Insulation riddle resolved
    Following the control layers
    The insulation riddle is back
    Insulation update

    I don’t think its a good idea to rely on the closed cell SPF to “fix” loose bricks. If you have loose bricks, it suggests there are other issues with your masonry wall (including potential moisture issues) that must be resolved/repaired first.

    Hope this helps.

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