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Bill Larkie
Posted: Jun 17, 2011 09:30 AM
Renovation project Questions

I’ve read quite a number of articles on spray foam and found them all informative. Still, I’m seeking your opinion on a renovation project I’m in the middle of…..

First, I’m in Texas, about 65mi southeast of Dallas on a lake. Summers are hot and humid, winters can be a crap shoot from mild to frigid with occasional snow.

Back in March after an 8 month pursuit, I purchased a HUD home….meaning it needs work. It’s a 1256sf 40’ diameter round “lake” house on a channel (as opposed to open water). It’s not a dome; rather simply it’s round with 8’ walls at the outside and a flat roof sloping upwards to 11’ at the center. It has a rooftop cupola and a center fireplace. It’s all wood framing including the roof. The exterior is stucco over 2x4” framing with single pane aluminum windows.

You can check out My Texas Round House blog at the link I provided on this posting.

The roof design consists of 2x6” joists 16” on center at the walls, 3.5” on center at the top of roof at the base of the exterior walls of the rooftop cupola. The interior walls originally were cheap trailer paneling and all of them were open to the “attic” in some way or another. From what I encountered during demolition, it must have been a colossal nightmare to heat and cool. It was frightening to see how many gaps there were between the conditioned space and the non-conditioned attic area. It was also pretty evident that it suffered from maintenance neglect of the low income variety.

My plan: to renovate the house for ME as my future home and as such I’m willing to invest more into it. To start, I opted to completely gut the place down to the bare joists and studs so I could validate its true condition. I was much relieved to find, with minor exceptions, the bones of the house are in excellent condition.

Since completing the demolition, I’ve reclaimed the much wasted attic space giving nearly all areas vaulted ceilings. I’ve installed four skylights and had a new heat reflecting light colored R-Loc metal roof installed over a single layer composition roof. The metal is mounted to firing strips to enable air to circulate underneath. I’ll be replacing ALL of the windows and sliding glass doors with double pane vinyl products. I’ll also be installing a whole new HVAC system. Currently, I’m in the midst of cleaning up some wiring issues and moving plugs and switches around.

Of prime importance to me is getting its insulation needs CORRECTLY met. The design of the roof framing with its tight joist spacing at the top of the roofline as well as the big openings between the joists at the tops of the outside walls leading to the eaves fairly scream for gap filling spray foam insulation. I’m leaning hard towards closed cell for it’s ability to seal out the outside world by eliminating air and moisture travel while maximizing R-value.

1) Do I need to somehow close off the air space between the eaves and the interior before foam is applied or can they just be sealed with foam? The eaves themselves are covered and sealed on the outside (except for an occasional (and useless) vent cover.
2) The AC/electric furnace will be housed above the entry hall ceiling (the last remnant of the attic, now to be conditioned space). Given the house will be sealed, do I still need to provide a source of fresh air?
3) To what degree should I have the between stud/joists filled with foam. I see pics of new construction where the foam fills 100% of the cavities….is that necessary with closed cell? It seems not from what I’ve read, but I thought I’d ask again.
4) Someone on this blog mentioned good things about Demilec USA which is located in the Dallas metroplex. Anyone know of their reputation?
5) Anyone know of a closed cell contractor in the DFW/East Texas area (reputable of course).

I’m sure I’ll have more questions as I move forward with getting quotes and the like. Thanks in advance for any suggestions/thoughts you might have!

Wayne Hawke
Posted: Jun 18, 2011 03:38 PM
Hey Bill,

I am from the opposite end of the planet when it comes to weather, but some things remain constant. Use some fibreglass to block off the eaves. Fold a piece over and pack tightly. Definetley use 2# foam, Demilac makes good product. Sprayed it for years. I would reccomend trying to comfortably fill stud walls and rafters. Trim as little as possible, foam is expensive! YES! an air to air heat exchanger is something you must have.

Unfortunatley, I live in Canada and don't know of any contractors in Texas. If you are doing alot of this reno yourself, you can save some money by finding a contractor who will bill you time and material. Do all of the prep yourself as well as the trimming and clean up.
Use some tape to mask off the stud and rafter exposed edges and any trimming can be done easily with a hand saw. Pull tape strips off first. Before you man starts spraying, check out what he has in his drums. his equipmnt will have a counter on it,make sure it is zero'd or make note of the number, keep accurate time records, arrive, cofee breaks, breakdowns, also, get yourself a cartidge mask and participate in the process, make yourself some probes for checking depth, watch his machine from time to time, there are 2 gauges that show output pressure. watch that they remain constant, there should be very little difference, watch the sprayer and the foam he or she makes. If they are having problems with installation, make sure that any troubles are corrected immediatley. The finished product sould be uniformed in color and consistancy.
My best customers are informed customers. Ask lots of quesions before any crew is dispatched. You will get a sense of ease with a contractor, I would look for an owner operator. Some salesmen are pretty slick, problem is they have never sprayed a stroke. I sell, install, and takeyour check, if there are any concrns wile onsite, you dont hae to go far to get an answer.
A good sprayer will have you house done in less than a day.Good uck with your round reno!
Best of uc with yur round reno.
angus mcdougald
Posted: Jun 18, 2011 06:57 PM
I am all for an educated consumer, but if you go in my trailer there's trouble..... you write down my breaks when its 100 out and 120+ in yer attic, there's trouble. _

Most of what you say has truth but some of what you say is basically illegal... idk how youse do it in canada eh, but where I am in NJ, you need supplied air within 25 feet of any Spraying for eg.

I think the tape thing is a waste.... a 5in1 tool is pretty quick on the studs.

I was just at Demilec training school.... I personally like their foam best and you will support a local company. Any sprayer they refer you will be good.

3 in in walls, and 4-5 in the roof, or a hybrid of 2in cc, and howevermuch oc you want to hit an r value.....

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