ckirwinAugust 10, 2008

We have a 1 3/4 cape-cod style 55-yr home. The 2nd floor knee-walls have built-in dresser drawers. I removed the dressers & found that there was no insulation in the ceiling or walls (within the knee wall). I'm now insulating the outside wall & ceiling areas, vapour barrier, drywall, etc. Why don't builders insulate & finish this space for storage???

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55 years ago few if any homes were insulated... Ever.

Coal was $5 a ton and $20 worth heated your home all winter.

Oil was $.05-.06 cents per gallon and often cheaper to heat with than coal.

Modern standards today would require not only a minimum of R-19 insulation in knee walls in most cases, but to also have the attic side of the knee-walls sealed with an air barrier to prevent air-leakage.

One cannot make old homes comply with modern standards, however.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 11:00PM
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Here are some links you really need to read over and over. I have a cape like yours and followed many of the steps here to solve my kneewall issues.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 1:25AM
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I believe the knee wall area is meant to be an unheated space. There should, however, be insulation under or on the floor of the knee wall. To get proper R-value, you may need to add spacers above the floor for additional insulation with flooring over the top so you can still use this area for storage. Also, there should be proper insulation on the wall between the heated space and knee wall area.

The reason the knee wall is not insulated on top is that you don't have enough room to get proper insulation and you would block off air flow. If you put in air chutes and furred your rafters down to allow for proper insulation, you could insulate this area on the exterior and ceiling, making it a heated knee wall area. I had an older home with heated knee wall areas and there was insufficient insulation under the roof - the result was snow melting and forming big ice dams.

Go to for more info.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 9:02AM
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