Construction Design-The Anatomy of a Well-Built Wall

I’m a fan of mineral wool insulation, specifically the Rockwool brand.  Over the next few months, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts discussing tips, tricks and the tools used to work with this insulation made from rocks and steel slag a byproduct of the steel industry.  Before we get into those topics, I want to discuss the Rockwool products I use, the building science behind the how these products work in a wall and the characteristics of the insulation, all of which can create a well-built wall assembly.

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Barndominium Part 4-Insulation and Air Control

This post first appeared on the Green Building Advisor website.  Residential Post-and-Frame Construction, Part 5: Insulation and Air-Sealing – GreenBuildingAdvisor

Cavity Insulation

I was brought on the barndominium construction team after many decisions were already in place.  The design was, for the most part, finished.  Many of the assemblies had been designed, such as the decision to use laminated posts six foot on center with the horizontal wall girts both inside and out.  The original plan for the insulation was to use up to seven inches of closed cell spray foam in the walls.  I was able to change the insulation strategy with a plan for a more “forgiving” assembly.  We chose to go with Rockwool’s 7.25-inch ComfortBatt, which has an insulation value of R-30. Continue reading “Barndominium Part 4-Insulation and Air Control”

Building Science-Ice Dams

This year seems to be a good (or bad depending on how you look at it) year for ice dam problems in my area, the intensity of ice dams seems to change year to year.  I was recently on an ice dam diagnostic with an insulating contractor and a general contractor, the home was built in the early 1990’s and there is evidence there have been issues from the beginning.  We spent a couple hours testing this home, I’ll get into what we found in a bit.

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Building Science-Existing Construction Improvements

This three-part series first appeared on the Green Building Advisor website and has been condensed into one post.

An unconditioned and uninsulated crawlspace, an unsealed and uninsulated forced air heating system, and an uncovered dirt floor, which by the way has a sewage leak.  If this were your home and you wanted to make improvements, where would you start? Continue reading “Building Science-Existing Construction Improvements”

Construction Design-Using Fibrous Sub-Slab Insulation with In-Floor Heat

I’ve written about sub-slab insulation and heated floors several times over the past couple years, this post is about something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, using a fibrous insulation, like Rockwool’s ComfortBoard 80 or 110 under a concrete slab with hot water heat.  The questions I had about this strategy are one, will there be an issue with compression of the insulation when concrete is poured over the product?  And two, will a staple be able to hold the hot water tubing in place?

Rockwool ComfortBoard being installed below a concrete slab.  Photo by Travis Brungardt

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Construction Design-Closed Cell Spray Foam Below a Slab

This post originally appeared on GreenBuildingAdvisor – Green Building Advisor is the one-stop source for builders, remodelers, architects & homeowners looking for expert advice on green products, strategies & proven construction details.

I was introduced to using closed cell spray foam (CCSF) below a slab a few years ago by New England contractor Wade Paquin of WKP Construction. He was insulating the below grade slabs of his new homes by spraying a couple inches over a bed of stone, then pouring the concrete. I have now had the opportunity to try this insulation method over a couple projects, Continue reading “Construction Design-Closed Cell Spray Foam Below a Slab”

Building Science-A Benefit of Exterior Insulation

I’m a big fan of exterior insulation.  It’s rarely used in my area, mostly because the State of Minnesota has eliminated that code requirement.  It has to to with our wide use of polyethylene sheeting as a vapor retarder on the warm in winter side of a wall assembly and then adding a low permeance plastic insulation product as exterior insulation.  These plastic foams would be the choice for most contractors, lower cost and easy to source.  Very slow vapor movement in either direction when a wall assembly becomes wet.  This posting isn’t going to get into the foam insulations, but more into what exterior insulation can do for a home. Continue reading “Building Science-A Benefit of Exterior Insulation”