This is part 5 of the prep work we did to get everything ready to blow GreenFiber cellulose insulation in our attic. At the bottom of this post we have a link to every post in this series if you want to check out the whole shebang :)
This part of the attic prep was the bane of my existence for two days. Basically, I spent a few hours each day getting nice and snuggly with our fiberglass insulation as I transported piles of it around our attic and re-stapled it in place.
Like I’ve mentioned a couple times before, the insulation on the interior walls of our attic was a disaster. When previous contractors did the kitchen and bathroom renovations, they basically ripped chunks of the stuff off the walls and left it in piles. These piles obscured walking paths and were even a potential fire hazard since they were heaped on top of recessed pot lights that we don’t think were insulation-contact (IC) rated. Plus, it left the walls around the lofted areas of our house (the living room and master bedroom) without anything to insulate them from the attic heat.
If you’re going to try anything involving close contact with fiberglass insulation, be warned. It’s itchy and ruthless. You need to wear long sleeves and long pants, and heck, if you have a turtleneck wear that too. I know it sounds ridiculous in a Texas attic in the middle of summer, but it’s better than the itchiness that you’ll suffer if that fiberglass gets on your skin. Eye protection is another must. If you think insulation on your skin is bad, just imagine that on your eyeballs (I learned how that feels the hard way, notice the lack of eye protection below).
So I put on some glasses and a more heavy duty mask before I continued (though I ended up switching back to the light mask later, since the heavy one restricted my breath and made me feel like I miiiight pass out). Gloves are another must while you’re elbow deep in itchy pink stuff. Also, having a headlight is helpful since you’re not gonna have free hands to hold a flashlight. Plus headlights are badass. Just look at that sexy getup below.
Anyway, to re-attach insulation batts (or to attach fresh new ones), you use a staple gun (like the one I’m holding a couple pictures up) and staple them to the wooden studs that you stuff them in between. You do NOT staple them to the wall- not sure if it would poke through the drywall or not, but all the tutorials online say not to risk it. Also, if your insulation has a moisture barrier lining on one side, you put that side facing the interior of your house (if the lining faces the interior of the attic it could trap moisture in your insulation).
You can see the lining on ours in the picture below. This mess was against the living room wall to one side of our fireplace. Batts had been ripped down and we had a random piece of roof plywood just hanging out defying gravity, waiting to fall through our ceiling.
After I stapled these guys back up and (carefully) ripped out that plywood from the roof, it was looking much better.
After doing just one wall, I was already covered in a layer of pink fuzz. This is why it’s worth it to wear long sleeves and pants even though you’re sweating your balls off.
Then it was onto other areas. If you turned the corner around the wall I had just completed, you’d see this mess. This is another wall of our living room (I’m standing over the kitchen from this view).
I completed that wall and took a shot of the full area. You can see the first wall I showed you on the right (near the brick fireplace, that had the fallen roof plywood) and the second wall on the left (that’s the kitchen exhaust duct going up through the roof). This process was a lot of work, but it helped to break thing up into sections and tackle them one by one.
Some spots, like this one on the second wall, had shapes that were a little trickier to fill with insulation. All the pieces I had were either too big or too small, and I also had to make them work with the sloped roofline. When I came across a spot like this, I tore the insulation batt by hand to fit (I tried using my utility knife at first, but it was faster just to rip it). You can see in the three pictures below how I fit a few pieces together to fill the space.
The trickiest spot overall was the area over our master bathroom. First off, the ceiling is sloped and you have to crouch down and crawl around to get anywhere. Some places you actually have to lay and scoot on your belly to reach. Secondly, there were problem walls on either side of it; the living room wall to the left, and the master bedroom wall to the right. Lastly, there were all sorts of pipes, recessed pot lights, wires, and air ducts to trip you up. It was basically an accident waiting to happen.
First I cleared the floor of excess insulation the best I could so that I could see where I was stepping/scooting. Then I added a couple of the pink boards left over from our air duct bridge to give myself additional footing. This made it possible to actually move around and finally finish up the spot I was dreading most. Here’s the left side after I showed that insulation who was boss.
And here’s the right side, minus the panel that Evan had secured cables too (we soon moved them to a different spot that didn’t interfere with the insulation).
And here’s the whole area in all its glory *applause.*
Quite an improvement from the “before” picture! (I’ll add it again here to save you some scrolling).
After I was done with the main areas, we still had a big pile of excess insulation that must have been pulled from places other than the walls (probably from the attic floors, since there were some bare spots). Even though I’m posing in victory here, the task was not quite yet over.
I read online that to give your insulation an extra oomf after you attach it between your studs, you can add extra insulation running perpendicular and going across the studs. We opted to do that instead of replacing the insulation on the attic floors where it had been removed since the floor was gonna get covered with blown insulation anyway. So I did that in a few spots, like that corner around the living room where I first started (with the fireplace on the right and the kitchen exhaust duct on the left). Here it is before the extra insulation.
And here it is after- extra fluffy!
Between adding extra insulation to the big walls and finishing up the smaller walls (the ones I didn’t include in this post), I used up the whole pile. And then took an extreeeeeeeemely long shower. I will never again be able to look at insulation, cotton candy, Nicki Minaj’s hair, or anything else pink and fluffy without getting itchy.
Psst – To see the whole process from start to finish, check out our other posts! You can see our overall plan for blowing insulation, and check out all the prep in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, and the actual blowing of insulation. Big project!
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