Friday, January 11, 2008

Somewhat incognito, but still thinking house...

I haven't gotten much done around here -- in fact, I've pretty much done nothing house-related all week, really. I was traveling for part of the week and was just plain busy last weekend. This weekend may be more of the same, honestly.

But, while I was traveling, I bought a couple magazines at the airport. One was from Fine Homebuilding magazine--their "Energy-Saving..." special issue. Was really interesting. But I'm always highly skeptical of these magazines and the "advice" they give you. See, I work for a magazine, and although it is trade press, not consumer press, I'm pretty cynical about the realities of consumer press and its so-called unbiased look at things. I know that sometimes p.r. people are relentless and won't stop until you "review" their company's newest product. I also know how sponsorships work. So, really, I take a TON of this stuff with a super grain of salt.

Such as my continued brain-wrestling match over insulating the basement and how to do it. This is very important, because, honestly, it determines whether I stick with the furring-strip framing that is up there now or reframe the entire family room. I thought I'd had it figured out until I read in this book the 10 biggest mistakes builders make, and one of them was insulating a basement with fiberglass and not XPS foamboard. This kinda bummed me out, because I was all set and ready to go with my "sealed wall" concept (although I'm still looking for suggestions as to how to seal the outer side of the framed wall (plastic sheeting? concrete/masonry sealant on inside of brick/foundation to repel water attempting to wick through the wall? some other way?). The foam insulation idea saves me time, effort and money, but I STILL would have to make absolutely sure no water could get in from the outside. It wouldn't ruin the insulation, it says. Yeah, but it would do a number on my floor and walls.

So, any advice anyone has about insulating your basement walls would be much obliged! Have a good weekend, otherwise!


Fred said...

Hi Andy,

Saw your post on

When I did the same project at my house, I decided to go with no vapor barrier, and when strictly with the portland cement based waterproofer. I used two products: SunnyDry (Avail. at Lowes) and Super ThoroSeal (Avail. at Home Depot).

I got conflicting reviews from folks about vaper barriers. Some said that a vapor barrier was a good idea, because it would protect the insulation. Others said that a vapor barrier would trap water, which would then condense, fall to the ground, and rot out the 2x4s.

I have a Video of my basement walls on my site that might be interesting to you.

Are you planning to build the walls on the floor and then stand them up? Remember, you'll want to put a pressure treated 2x4 against the foundation, otherwise if your foundation wicks moisture, the bottom board might rot out.

Hope that helps.


Sandy said...

What about that Corning panel system? That way, if you needed to get to pipes that are behind the finished walls you could just pop the panel. I'm not sure if the panels are insulated in themselves. Might be worth checking out!

p.s. I saw their commercial and thought of you.

Fred said...


I've often wondered how those panels affect resell value / appeal. I agree the the access is really nice.

Of course, you wouldn't want to insulate your pipes out of the room anyway (asking for a frozen pipe explosion on the back side of the wall - a mess indeed).

Andy said...

Fred...thanks for the links and the help on this. You can bet I'll be keeping watch over your basement project, since you're a step or so ahead. I definitely know about getting the pressure-treated for the bottom plate--I have a wood support beam that's probably as old as the house (85 years) that has wicked moisture from the floor and looks really crumbly...another problem I'll have to address at some point.

Sandy...thanks for thinking about my issues and remembering to tell me about something you saw--see, this blog IS useful! :) :) I had not heard about those panels, so I'll have to check them out.

Fred said...


The link is up on OneProjectCloser (and in a prominent location). Looking forward to seeing mine here :-)

Hope all is well with the home and baby!