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Horse Whisperer
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90 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

I'm seriously considering doing the attic ceiling/roof in my 1905 farmhouse, and the 2 small crawl spaces; most of the house sits on-top of an unfinished basement I use as storage and shop area. The foundation/basement is concrete -- very unusual for a home this old.

I did some initial research on this subject last year, talked to an insulation contractor, and got a bid. :eek: It appears that what I gleaned from this initial research isn't entirely accurate. It looks like I can get the same R value with closed cell for the same price as open cell; the open cell will take twice as much to accomplish the same R value. At this point I'm not sure why the contractor was pushing the open cell as less expensive and a better option. The contractor explained the only reason to use the more expensive closed cell would be space limitations within a wall. When I called for a bid I specifically requested a bid for closed cell based on my limited research. Can anyone please explain this? Are there contractors reading this who give bids for open cell over closed cell based on price or benefits: Any homeowners who have experience with either? My current research seems to be leading me back to closed cell.
 

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Horse Whisperer
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90 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
An initial thought I had after watching this youtube video "Poor Man's Spray Foam" was, I wish I had done that to my walls when I took the lath and plaster off 25 years ago. I know that fiberglass batt in my 2X6 walls is losing its effectiveness with age. Does anyone have any comments on this? The good, bad, or otherwise?
 

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Exterior Construction
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26,129 Posts
tbeck,

Start taking some pictures of the home (inside, outside, attic, crawl, etc.).

There is a whole bunch of other stuff I would do to the home prior to foaming the roof and for a myriad of reasons.

Post up some pictures and I will give you my straight feedback and recommendations.
 

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Horse Whisperer
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90 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for replying Windows. I'm hoping you can click on the thumbnails if you want to see a larger pic. Let me know if you can't.

This is the east, and north side of the house -- took this pic a few years ago. I will be replacing the roof first -- looking at a lifte-time slate look product (sigh on price!) But, this is the 2nd go around with all this and I don't want a 3rd during my lifespan.


North Side "friend's entrance"; porch with basement entrance.


This is the south side with screened porch and recently added wheelchair ramp -- hard to get a pic because of the trees planted for shade. Have to wait till the leaves drop in winter.


Pic of the snow blowing off the roof -- as you can tell from the south roof pic the snow typically stays on there even with the minimal attic insulation. The wind was really blowing that day!


Inside dining/living to give you an ideal of just how big the windows are, and just how many there are -- sigh -- pretty but a "pane" (pun intended).


(Dirty) Basement Window -- believe it or not they are double paned -- I've learned to respect grandpa and his innovation. They actually do their job and I don't plan to replace them. I can put my hand on them and they aren't as cold as the upstair single pane windows. I tried to get a pic of the rope caulk -- brown line around the edge -- it seals the air out very well.


Basement Crawl -- tried to get a pic of the exterior access panel that was sealed off -- hard to see. You can see the crappy dirty pink fiberglass from 25 years ago that I salvaged when I had to redo the crawl AGAIN a few years ago. Not doing this again!
 

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Horse Whisperer
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90 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Continued -- can only post 10 at a time even if they are thumbnails.

Finally, the next few are the attic which I am fed-up with :) The first is of the "peak" where everything comes together.



Attic stairs -- will need to take the last of the lath down and spray foam both sides of steps.


Looking North


Looking East -- the very old seed bag hanging from the rafters is full of down feathers. Been hanging there for 50 years :)


Because I use the West Side for storage, and don't want to post my dirty laundry for the world to see, hahaha, didn't post the storage side. It has batts under plywood.
 

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Horse Whisperer
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90 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Forgot to mention the chimneys are sealed but coming down when I do the roof in the spring. Did minimal research on roofing products. Researching is my winter project so I can fix the windows, insulation, and roof, and spend every penny I have on my old age home :) Preparing for a long life and will probably croak early, hehehe. I do want to be done with these projects. Having to redo all of this in 25 years is NOT an option.
 

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If your floors above the crawl space are cold, you can put insulation on the walls of the crawl space & on the ground about two feet from the wall. Put some plastic on the ground to keep the moisture from wicking into any of the insulation.

I had a small bungalow in Indy back in the 80's with a partial basement & crawl space. I insulated the crawl space walls and it made a big difference to the rooms above.
 

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Horse Whisperer
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90 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
LOL, that may have been the only one he sells. He certainly wouldn't have told me that.

I considered the foam board on crawl walls, but to be honest I just want to spray foam them, seal/insulate with a water resistant product that won't come off, and know I won't need to do it again, or deal with ongoing maintenance to keep it functional/effective. I'm not thrilled about using a 22 to nail them in either, or potential gaps. The 22's will cause a weakened area that water will find. I know I sound cynical. It's just that I went through all this 25 years ago, and now I'm replacing/repairing everything again because it has reached the end of its useful life. Plus, I really didn't get a great result to begin with. I keep picturing the lifespan and potential wear with the various product options. It's unusual for anyone to have a home that they replaced/repaired/remodeled 25 years ago, and now it's time to do it all again. How many people stay in one place for 25 years, and plan on 50 -60 years? Not many. Most products are designed to give limited useful life because everyone thinks "I'll be gone" or "let the next owner worry about it". I thought I would move to a smaller home, but that isn't going to happen. They'll have to take me out feet first :laughing:
 

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Horse Whisperer
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90 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Windows for responding, but I think I've answered my own question. This video seems to explain "open cell". Here are some "facts" (facts as determined by who is the question):

Open Cell

1. Less Dense

2. Spongy

3. Absorbs Moisture

4. No Structural Strength

5. Absorbs Moisture (The biggest reason NOT to use it so it's on here twice).​

Only an idiot would suggest using Open Cell in my attic and crawl, especially when I specifically requested a bid for Closed Cell :furious:. I wonder how many homes this contractor has ruined, and how many people will have huge problems in their senior years because of what he is doing -- seniors that won't have money to fix the problems. Contractor's come in many different shapes and sizes -- good, okay if you keep an eye on them, and never let them loose around anything you own. Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer good. A "master" of anything hardly exists. Here is a pic of the last three that I've hired -- they are triplets -- :jester: Yes, jokers that came recommended, and their customers were pleased, sigh... We are all too busy working and trying to keep food on the table to research everything we need done.
 

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Exterior Construction
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To start with, I would not spray foam your rafters regardless. There is nothing wrong with leaving that attic as vented and you should have those balloon framed members sealed off.

Air sealing that attic would go miles to helping with the energy costs. Yes...you do have ductwork up there but so do about 50% of the attics in the US. Seal all the ductwork seams and insulate over the top. No reason to go spraying foam on a roof when you can't really use the space as conditioned anyway.

You concerns about OC vs. CC foam are valid but in my observations, not applicable. Yes, OC foam is more vapor open but I have never seen a roof that has show any moisture damage and we have peeled plenty of them that have been foamed. If the foam is done properly, there is no vapor movement through them. The reality is that air movement carries 100X more water with it. Simple diffusion (unless you home is a steam shower) has never shown any moisture damage in my observation and there are a ton of OC SPF roofs that are doing fine.

The reason that most will want to do OC is because it is easier to apply (i.e. more in a single pass), you can't burn down a house with it, it doesn't off gas as long or as persistently as CC does, and its cheaper.

If you are looking for the foam to structure your roof, we have bigger problems so take that out of consideration.

The crawlspace is a definite candidate for SPF and OC is fine down there as well.

Clean of the floor for jagged debris and cover with a new and more continuous vapor barrier. Tape and seal it to the stem wall. Have 3" of OC SPF put on the wall and up to the ribbon board/joist area. Cut a small hole in that supply side duct work and you will have more than enough conditioned space and warmth down there.

You will need to vacate the home for at least a day when it is done.

Have them install some blockers in the balloon framing so seal up those spaces prior to spraying foam.
 

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Horse Whisperer
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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I should have added open cell does not seal the air out -- not as big of a problem as moisture but it certainly will defeat the purpose of using it.

Yes, prep of any area is extremely important if you want the product to do its job, so that is important.

Thank you for your time, much appreciated Windows -- you are a good person to help out all the DIY'ers :)
 

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Horse Whisperer
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Discussion Starter #14
Just checking/researching safety data. It appears that once it is cured the fire rating and health rating is:

NFPA: Fire 1; Health 1; Reactivity 0
HMIS: Flammability 1; Health 1; Reactivity 0


A zero means it will not burn or there isn't a health problem. A one indicates that it will catch on fire if the temperature is hot enough (200 degrees fahrenheit in the case of spray foam), and for health problems -- well -- don't eat it.

Like paint, glue, caulking, or practically any chemical, you will want to be VERY careful when applying it. Unlike paint, glue, or the chemicals we spray on our field crops prior to human consumption (yes, very hazardous, and it doesn't "cure" before we eat it) it will not leach into ground water after it is cured, or pollute the air -- unless it catches on fire :oops:

Okay, soap box time, hahaha :icon_rolleyes:

Am I saying it is perfectly safe? Absolutely not. I am concerned about EVERY man-made chemical. Is your "green builder" using untreated wood to build your home? hahahaha Do you really think all the "green" fabric is green? hahaha Do you think your "green" paint is green? I'm really LMAO here. Do you think your shingles on your roof are safe? Have you ever cleaned out your gutters and seen the crap they shed back into the environment? I'm obviously living and breathing Agriculture morning, noon, and night -- look at the pics I posted. If it is a biological, like animals, fruits, vegetables, wood, cotton, wool, etc. I can guarantee it is NOT chemical free -- unless you grew it, spun it, cut it, i.e., essentially made it yourself then there are chemicals in it.

Will spray foam become the next asbestos? Who the heck knows. Science lags so far behind when it comes to lifetime exposure, degradation, and health effects of man-made chemicals we may never know. Is ANY kind of foam going to cause a problem for firemen if your house catches on fire -- oh yeah, I wouldn't want their job for all the tea in China.

Windows, as you can tell from the pics I posted, my roofing structure is so sound compared to new construction that it makes my roof look like a bomb shelter in comparison. Adding a structural component is not needed. Protecting wood against moisture -- heck yes -- it's a biological and God made biological materials so they would degrade and feed the next generation of biologicals -- the cycle of life. Animals, trees, plants, i.e., anything "alive" will in most instances return to the earth after death if exposed to air and water.
 

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Horse Whisperer
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Discussion Starter #15
Windows, the guy that did my home energy audit today gave me a very good reason not to use closed cell on my attic ceiling/roof. Closed cell is water resistant, which is good in the crawl. However, it is not good for the attic ceiling because if your roof leaks the water will get trapped and the water will rot the sheathing/underlayment undermining the entire roof structure. Now that makes perfect sense to me. I'm not sold on open cell because it does not seal out air leaks. So, just as you suggested, I will be doing the attic floor. :thumbsup:
 

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Exterior Construction
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I pointed this out in an earlier response, but open cell foam most certainly does seal out here leaks.

I think you might be getting into analysis paralysis mode when it comes to this attic assembly. If you're not going to use the attic as a condition space, there is zero reason to put the insulation in envelope layer across the roofline.

You do not need to use close sell in the crawlspace either.
 

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Had my basement done this year with spray foam, hired a local contractor who did a great job. Charged me $1 per board foot, I contracted him to do the entire basement from rim joist down to floor at 2" thick. Had the room studded 3/4" off the block and foamed before drywall. He used open cell in the rim joist and fill the entire cavity about 6" thick. On the walls he used closed cell and it was anywhere from 2-4" thick. Very pleased with the results and price paid. I asked a different guy for a quote on closed cell and he recommended open cell for the whole basement and quoted me almost triple what I paid and wanted x4 for closed cell.
 

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Horse Whisperer
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Discussion Starter #18
There seem to be a number of contractors doing spray foam -- another situation where the "buyer be aware" rule is important. Home weatherization, roofing, HVAC, need a better oversight/licensing board with required continuing education. So many seniors, fixed income consumers are taken advantage of. As I get older I can appreciate how easy it is to take advantage of them.
 

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Hi All,

I'm seriously considering doing the attic ceiling/roof in my 1905 farmhouse, and the 2 small crawl spaces; most of the house sits on-top of an unfinished basement I use as storage and shop area. The foundation/basement is concrete -- very unusual for a home this old.

I did some initial research on this subject last year, talked to an insulation contractor, and got a bid. :eek: It appears that what I gleaned from this initial research isn't entirely accurate. It looks like I can get the same R value with closed cell for the same price as open cell; the open cell will take twice as much to accomplish the same R value. At this point I'm not sure why the contractor was pushing the open cell as less expensive and a better option. The contractor explained the only reason to use the more expensive closed cell would be space limitations within a wall. When I called for a bid I specifically requested a bid for closed cell based on my limited research. Can anyone please explain this? Are there contractors reading this who give bids for open cell over closed cell based on price or benefits: Any homeowners who have experience with either? My current research seems to be leading me back to closed cell.

...........

This is the south side with screened porch and recently added wheelchair ramp -- hard to get a pic because of the trees planted for shade. Have to wait till the leaves drop in winter.
Completely O/T, but the above shot with a bit of cropping and brightening would look very good printed in black and white and framed.
 

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Horse Whisperer
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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you! That is so funny that you see a black and white blow up of that pic. In the 60's the family Christmas card was of the farm, from that angle, and it was black and white. It didn't have snow, but it was winter. I took that pic so I could recreate the same scene from 50 years ago. When I find the scanned pic from the 60's I'll try to post it.
 
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