How to repair cat scratches in foam board insulation

seaturtleOctober 28, 2009

Basement was recently weatherized. They left the foam insulation boards as is, without any covering.

My cats have scratched into the insulation. I need to fill up the gouges they made and then paint over it.

What can I use to fill these holes - and can this foam board insulation be painted?

Thank you.

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The foam should be covered with drywall for fire protection.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 9:58PM
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The answer depends upon the type of foam insulation.

Some foil-faced rigid foam insulations do not need a fire ignition barrier (like drywall) to be placed over them at all.

Other foam insulations, like sprayed Icynene, can have an ignition barrier coating sprayed, rolled, or brushed on them.

Drywall, plywood, and sheet steel can also be applied over foam insulation as an ignition barrier.

Most foams and their ignition barriers can be painted with latex based paints.

What type 'foam' insulation was installed?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 8:40PM
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These are blue sheets of insulation(I have seen them in Home Depot - they come in different thicknesses, each a different colour. They are very soft - if you pushed your fingernail in them, t would leave an indentation.
Is this the kind of insulation that must be covered because of fire? The weatherization was done by the state program in VT, so I would think not. I can check with the Fire Department, though.
I appreciate any more feedback, thank you again.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 10:00PM
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I dont think any foam board type is going to take any abuse, even after paint. You might consider running furring strips layed out similar to a framed wall to accept wallboard that could be finished nicer and will hold up better.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 10:29AM
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As macV stated, this type of foam board must be covered with a minimum of 1/2" drywall to prevent its ignition in a fire.

Only way you can avoid this is if the foundation is a 'Superior Walls' type foundation, and although Superior Walls use Dow blue Foam Board in these precast basement walls, do not need any type of ignitional barrier.

Superior Walls are tested, listed and labeled for use without one.

Bottom line:

Unless these are Superior Walls, You cannot keep this foam uncovered.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 7:39PM
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Thanks very much for all the information. The weatherization was done under a program by the state of Vermont, and landlord is responsible for it being done. I'm surprised law doesn't require them to install drywall.
At the risk of being thrown out, I guess I'd better contact the state about this.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 11:53PM
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So many thanks again. I went down and read the print on the insulation sheets. Very clearly, it states that it is a fire hazard and must be covered.
How the state agency left this is beyond me. I an only think it's my landlord's responsibility and he just doesn't want to pay for it. I will contact local building inspector.

Your information just may have saved my life.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 8:46PM
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It will be interesting to see if they got a building permit. Of course, in the end the owner of he property is responsible for what was done to the building. I'll bet the state made him sign a statement that he would cover the insulation.

Just so you know, foam board does not ignite easily but when it does, it burns rapidly producing thick smoke and toxic gasses.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 11:21PM
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The agency who installed the foam insulation without a protective ignition barrier will ultimately be the responsible and liable party for not installing the product in accordance with prevailing building Codes and/or the manufacturer's installation instructions.

Talk to your local Code Officials.

The State agency who did the installation left you and your landlord in jeopardy of bodily and property harm.

And it is no small matter...

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 11:51PM
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Let's just 'ASSUME', for a moment, that the insulation
can be left uncovered and you repair the cat scratches.
How can you insure that the cats will not do any more

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 9:42AM
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Declaw the cat! They'll make a mess of most any substrate. I've repaired drywall many times from cat scratches. Your talking about foam board here.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 10:28AM
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Don't listen to Sierraeast. Don't declaw the cat. Do you know how a cat is declawed? They take a big guillotine-like cutter and snap off each first knuckle. The pain must be agonizing. Then the cat has to walk on its shortened paws for the rest of its life. Sierraeast - do you mind if someone snaps off your first knuckle on each of your fingers? Perhaps you're messy and that will solve the problem.

The cat will not scratch the drywall once it goes over the insulation. Since it seems that putting the drywall up is urgent given the danger and the Code violations, I would expect this problem to be solved soon. Keep your cat out of the basement till then. Don't mutilate the cat just so your foam board doesn't have scratches on it.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 11:16AM
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I apologize. We have a friend who has a cat that has been de-clawed. I didn't relize it was that violent of a situation, thinking more towards when tails are shortened. I dont condone abuse to animals and, when you think about it, de-clawing doesn't allow a cat to climb when being chased by dogs,etc.
We have never de-clawed or ever will any of our cats, I simply didn't realize it was that involved. Our friends cat seems fine and gets along "normally", but I stand corrected and again apologize for the comment.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 11:35AM
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Sierraeast - thank you for your thoughtful and kind response. I apologize too if I was too rude about it. BTW, there are no countries outside of U.S. (well, I don't know about 3rd world countries) that allow declawing. It is against the law everywhere but the U.S. Good way for vets to rake in extra dollars.

Sorry to the OP for going OT.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 11:53AM
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I have already propped all kinds of things against the walls so they can't get at them walls.
I would never declaw a cat.

You are right, it is the state weatherization people who left the house in jeopardy. I will bring it up with my landlord tomorrow.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 10:31PM
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This is a pretty silly discussion. If your house is in violation of the building code, the building department won't care who did the work. If they take any action at all, you will be ordered to correct it, not the state; the town's authority is over you, not the state. If you want the state to fix it, you will have to ask them directly; if they refuse, you should forget about it and move on. Unless they are unusually stupid, they would have asked you to sign a waiver of responsibility before doing any work on your property; try reading that "receipt" you signed.

The discussion of building code requirements is probably irrelevant if this house is in VT. If VT has finally adopted a residential building code I haven't heard about it. Unless this particular town has adopted it's own code I suspect it is perfectly legal to expose polystyrene insulation board in this house. And you thought NH was the Live Free or Die state.

"Let's just 'ASSUME', for a moment, that the insulation
can be left uncovered"

It's ridiculous to assume something is OK that could kill your family (and the cat) before they could get out of the house in a fire. Do you understand what toxic smoke does to you? You canâÂÂt just run through it and cough a bit like Bruce Willis in a movie. "Overcome by smoke" means you can't get to safety on your own.

After nearly a hundred people died primarily from toxic smoke from burning exposed polyurethane foam in a night club in Warwick RI in 2003 you would think that foam insulation would get more respect as a killer. My son lived a few miles away and didn't answer his phone so I drove there to see if he had been in the fire so it left an impression on me.

The Station nightclub was required by state law to have sprinklers installed when it was converted from a restaurant to a night club but the local building and fire officials issued permits without enforcing that requirement. Despite the negligence of the local officials and the foam supplier, after a long court battle it was the owners of the property and the pyrotechnic equipment who went to prison.

Put the safety of your family ahead of energy conservation, academic responsibility debates, or annoying pet behavior while you can.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 6:08AM
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Thanks again for all the posts. I went to the Section 8 people today to ask if they made an extra inspection after weatherization is done.
They don't.
They said to contact the weatherization people, but first to speak to my landlord and let him know how the weatherization people left the basement.

He was not pleased. Weatherization didn't put it in. He did, and said he did this in his own house and that was perfectly safe. "Well, if you throw the insulation into a fire, it'll burn," he said. He was visibly annoyed at me. ( does buy, renovate and sell houses which must pass an inspection, so I think there is no ordinance.

You are probsbly right about building codes in VT. Section 8, however, is pretty strict about passing their inspections. The woman at HUD did say she would inspect in January and would have to call in a fire inspection.

This is really damaged my relationship w/landlord, though I would think my question to him is in no way out of line.
I think he's not wanting people to know about it.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 9:25PM
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