Insulation Day Live Blog

by Josh on October 7, 2009 · 8 comments

in Bedroom,Projects

After a two-day schedule shift to allow my insulator to work on an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house in St. Paul, today is my insulation day!

I thought it would be fun to try a live blog format to capture the pace of the day’s activity.  I’m already a bit behind schedule, so let’s get right to it.

12:30 a.m. I just got home from returning our dear out-of-town friend to her hotel after an evening of catching up fireside at our place.  I’m really wishing I had made time over the past few days to finish the last bits of insulation prep, because now I’ll be doing that instead of going to bed.

1:37 a.m. Off to a slow start with this because I’m trying to rip my CD collection at the same time and I keep checking in with the computer.  Must focus.

3:42 a.m. I have the garage crawlspace mostly emptied of junk, including an unspeakable amount of mouse poop.  (I’ll be putting poison here for sure this winter!)  In addition to the attic, this space– part of the previous owner’s addition– is getting insulation so the heated mudroom above stays warm and the unheated crawlspace doesn’t.  Time for bed.

7:17 a.m. Need coffee.

8:00 a.m. Call the insulation company to verify their arrival time.  The answer: 11:00 – 1:00 p.m.  Excellent.

11:02 a.m. The insulation truck is parked on my block when I arrive home from a quick grocery errand.  They have the wrong house number but I set them straight.

11:12 a.m. On a tour of the workspace I realize I’ve got some junk to remove from the bedroom space and a few box vents to cover.  How did I forget about those vents?

12:07 p.m. Finally covered all the box vent openings and got a couple more pieces of plywood down in the crawlspace for the applicators.  Pounding tiny, super-bendable brad nails at an awkward angle into the roof was a pain.  I used a ridiculous amount of brads.  Yes, ridiculous is the right word because anyone who saw the number of bent up nails would ridicule me.  Sorry, no photo.

12:13 p.m. It looks like the insulators are nearly finished with their prep work masking off the space.  I didn’t realize the taping and tarping would be this involved, but it makes sense.  Here’s how it looks:

Insulation Prep 1

Insulation Prep 2

12:41 p.m. I see that the insulators have the crawlspace prepped with tarping now, too.  Here’s a before shot for that space:

Crawlspace Prep

1:03 p.m. Waiting for water to boil for my son’s macaroni lunch I run a couple items up to my master bedroom.  I can hear the woosh of the foam spraying and there is a noticeable odor, so I open the master bedroom windows and turn on the fan in the master bath.  Thank goodness it isn’t cold and rainy like the last few days.

1:42 p.m. I take a step outside to see what I can see of the project space from the street and I catch a glimpse of the insulators shaving excess insulation from the sloped ceiling in the bedroom.

Insulation in Progress

2:22 p.m. I’m envious of my two-year-old, who is now down for his nap.  Things are relatively quiet with the crew upstairs.

2:29 p.m. One of the insulators emerges downstairs in his tyvek suit, looking like a human popcorn kernel.  I pop upstairs and nab another in-progress photo through the open door.

Insulation in Progress 2

2:37 p.m. Vacuuming up the bits of cellulose and spray foam shavings the crew have tracked downstairs, I feel an impulse to assert my masculinity but no opportunity presents itself.  Check on laundry instead.

3:38 p.m. I saw the insulators checking out the garage crawlspace  about 40 minutes ago, but all the work is still happening upstairs.

3:42 p.m. “Popcorn Man” just reappeared and informed me that he’s all done upstairs and will be moving on to start spraying the crawlspace.  He figures they will be here about two more hours.  I assume a good portion of that time will be clean-up.  He’s shedding insulation fuzz, so it’s back to the vacuum for me.

4:19 p.m. The upstairs space is nearly finished.  I think they are just touching up a few spots here.

After Insulation 1

4:50 p.m. The insulation crew is packing up their things.  The garage crawlspace ceiling and rim joist are done now, too.

Crawlspace After Insulation

4:58 p.m. I just settled my bill with the insulators and they are driving away.  Installing the insulation took almost exactly six hours for the two-person crew.  The foam is already hard to the touch and should be fully cured three hours after application.

Final I will post a follow-up in a day or two, as of now I’m very pleased with the product.  The installation process went smoothly and I am thrilled to move to the next step with my project upstairs.

The only real disappointment I have now is with the foam’s off-gassing.  I suspect one of my more expensive bids for soy-based foam might have done better in this regard.  I am going to put a fan in the window upstairs to see if that will help speed up the evacuation of the smell.

That small caveat noted, I am thrilled to finally be insulated.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Shane October 7, 2009 at 3:12 pm

I’m jealous! I love that stuff. I wish we had some exposed walls I could have that stuff shot on.

Looking good!


kelly October 11, 2009 at 1:45 am

nice pictures! i recently wrote about insulation on my blog, too…

what percentage difference did you see in price for the soy-based products?



Sandy October 11, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Hi! Can you do that in an attic that is not big enough to stand up straight in? My attic has plumbing pipes and ductwork in it so I couldn’t do the “floor”, but it would be so nice to have that kind of insualtion under the roof. Or would that keep the attic from “breathing”?


Josh October 13, 2009 at 8:37 am

@Shane- Thanks!

@Kelly- Despite my effort to get apples-to-apples bids, the insulators who bid my job all had different ideas of how much foam to use. That made comparisons difficult, but I worked out a calculation in this recent post: Foam Insulation Cost Analysis

I really wanted to use a soy-based foam insulation–in fact, two of my three bids spec’d soy foam. But in my case, the cost would have been 23% more and 47% more than conventional foam. However, any spray foam insulation is “green” when it comes to energy savings for heating and cooling.

@Sandy- Yes, this can be applied to the roof deck of short attics and crawlspaces– much of the area sprayed at my house was exactly that. As for the attic “breathing” I’m not sure what you mean. This old house is still exchanging plenty of indoor air through windows, doors, etc. Although I installed mine as a hot roof with no air space under the shingles, the foam can be sprayed over air channels under the roof to provide conventional roof ventilation when used with continuous ridge and soffit vents.


Timothy October 19, 2009 at 4:30 am

Live blogging an insulation install! That’s a first. I love it, you made good time on 3 hours sleep. Hope to see more of these.


Jacob November 17, 2009 at 11:16 am

I was curious if you could reveal who installed your insulation. I too live in Minneapolis and have been very interested in have this type of insulation done. Of course, it also mean ripping out all of the sheet rock in the 1/2 story.


Josh November 17, 2009 at 11:34 am

Jacob– I’ll contact you via email with my insulator referral. I haven’t blogged about the specific contractors who help me because I don’t disclose my blog to them and I know that my experience–good or bad–isn’t necessarily representative.


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