insulating attic over the 1920 beadboard ceiling

shelleyrenaeJanuary 27, 2010

Our old 1920 house we're going to restore has beautiful beadboard ceilings that I really want to keep. My husband says we can't because to insulate the attic, it will seep through the cracks. Not be airtight and such. Isn't there something that could be layed in the attic, then insulate over? we live in Northeast no really harsh winters like up north if that makes any difference

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Isn't there something that could be layed in the attic, then insulate over?
not easily. in some homes where they insisted on the
beadboard ceilings (usually just one room) we installed
tyvek in the joist bays and then blew insulation on top
of the tyvek. tyvek was cut into strips that fit into
each joist bay and stapled to the sides of the joists
with care ...because you want the insulation to lay on
ceiling without air pockets between the conditioned space and attic.
this created an air barrier to keep insulation in attic
and stop conditioned air loss through ceiling.
it can be done..but its labor intensive.
foam would be a higher cost..(open cell) but if
you add up labor costs for tyvek install and then
insulation costs, you will come out about the same.
you could use 2" of open cell on the attic floor and then
insulate with conventional insulation on top of the foam
best of luck.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 2:34PM
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What finish is on the beadboard?

It may have been effectively sealed already with layers of paint or other finish.

Unless you seal the tyvec to the joists or use a single piece and seal the edges strips are not going to do a lot to stop infiltration.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 4:43PM
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Well, husband is going to argue on the side of energy rater la. over time, ceiling tiles were put over it and some have fallen revealing beadboard that isn't tight in places. I haven't looked at the complete ceilings yet, because as soon as it's dry ground enough here, we're moving the house to our property about 10 miles away. Haven't disturbed too many things. Did pull the carpet back and the hardwood floors look to be in great shape. Will be insulating under the house as the hardwood sits on floor joists with no insulation at all.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 7:29PM
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Have you considered the new spray-on insulation?

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 12:11AM
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Why not just lay insulation on the floor of the attic? Unless you are using the attic as living space, I'd just haul rolls of insulation up there and unroll it.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 4:59AM
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Hi Carla and lesterd, I thought both of these ideas would work, it would be nice to know if someone has tried it. The attic will not be living space. Does that spray on insulation expand ? If so, that might seep through the cracks of beadboard. I still haven't given up hope that I'll get my original ceilings. Husband wants to lay new ceiling over all old existing stuff, but I want all of the 9 ft. ceiling heighth and the original beadboard. We'll see.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 8:08AM
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foam insulation.
for the attic you can either insulate
the floor of the attic or the roofline.
the latter will be more costly and maybe
out of price range if roof pitch is over 4/12.

insulate the floors with foam also.

we have a lot of houses on piers here.
most common insulation was fg batts, but over
time they drop to the bottom of the joists
and create an air space between insulation
and floor. condensation forms floors develop
soft spots and rot.

foam will stop air movement conventional insulation
will not. it has made a world of difference in
my area with homes on piers.

Oh and open cell Shelly as open cell will allow
moisture to exit the foam closed cell will not.
it does have a lesser R-value, but is the right
material to use.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 4:17PM
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We rolled out insulation on the floor of our attic and it's done a great job at both insulating and cutting our utility bills. We used "green" insulation...made of compacted denim scraps. Took an afternoon from start to finish.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 7:36PM
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I got an estimate on my my little 875 sq ft house with a low roof pitch and it was was quite expensive. The insulation was to be sprayed on the underside of the roof and he said will also cover all openings to the outside $4195. then he said the exsisting insulation had to be removed from the floor of the roof (can only have it on one or the other) removal $975. Ludicrious. now I also have beadboard ceilings and blown in insulation (the old fashioned kind) and in 3 years have not seen it coming into the house. I have to get an estimate on roof repairs tomorrow. If the guy goes up in the attic I will ask him if there is anything between the rook and the bead board to keep it from seeping through.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 9:18PM
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I will state for the record that beadboard ceilings are really evocative of a bygone time. I like beadboard ceilings, especially on porches. I see why people like and appreciate them. The practical problem is that dust will filter through the cracks unless the material has been taken down and cleaned (or new stuff gotten) and it is applied to the joists with a barrier sheeting (plastic or tyvek) to prevent new attic dust from accumulating and filtering through the cracks. "But just caulk the cracks!" you protest. Ah, but that IMO really spoils the look of the beads. You can never use so little caulk so that it looks right, because that is not enough caulk to do the job of stretching with the seasonal movement. An adequate amount of caulk, then, looks really bad in the joints and loses the historic look. It looks little better than beaded plywood, which is super-yuk.
If you went up into your attic, and cleaned out every seam with a vacuum and brush, and tapping to get the dust out now, before finishing and habitation, and then insulated with sprayed foam, which will seal it 'til doomsday, you will still get some dust filtering through, but if it doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother me. And if it does bother you, you can then caulk (yuk) the worst-offending seams.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 11:23AM
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it is all about stopping the air transfer from the attic
into the conditioned space. thus the reccomendation of foam

as air moves thru insulation it brings insulation particles
into the house along with dust.for folks with breathing issues this complicates these issues, it also is more clostly to heat and cool due to attic temp transfers
into the living space.

but it is a personal choice.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 12:08PM
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