Insulating the Attic, alternatively titled A New Hole in the Ceiling

Finally, some information on a current project! This weekend we decided to insulate our attic, which had no insulation. Nada. Zero. Zip.

We’d been putting this off for 2 1/2 years because we plan on one day finishing the front room of the attic, at which point we will get that fancy blown-in foam insulation. It seemed wasteful to spend the money, materials and labor hours on insulation that we’ll ultimately have to rip out. But it’s also wasteful to let our precious heat go right through the ceiling, and since this attic finishing business is pretty low on the list of priorities, we opted to get some fiberglass insulation for the time being. When we finish the front room of the attic, we can move that insulation to the back and have double the insulation back there.

Aaron in a sweaty, itchy winter wonderland!

If you think it’s better to insulate before the cold weather hits, you’re wrong. Insulating an attic is a job for January, not July. You need to wear a lot of clothing to protect against THE ITCHING MY GOD THE ITCHING!!!! You’ll want to wear long pants and sleeves, preferably two layers of each, along with eye protection, a mask or respirator, and some good gloves. We got knit gloves that had been dipped in latex, which worked well except that the fiberglass would sometimes creep through the backs of the hands where there was no rubber. (If you do get that itching-burning-stinging sensation, it’s really not that bad. Just leave it alone and wash it off as soon as you are done; rubbing or scratching will only make it worse.

The New Hole in the Ceiling


We opted for R-30 fiberglass insulation with no facing. The facing, or vapor barrier, is theoretically necessary to prevent moisture migrating from the conditioned spaces into the attic where it could condense and eventually cause water damage. But since our attic is drafty well ventilated, and mainly because the unfaced insulation is much less expensive than the faced stuff we decided to forgo the vapor barrier for now.  When we put up a new ceiling in the back rooms under the attic, we’ll install a 2-mil poly sheet as a vapor barrier to protect from condensation.  And we’ll have to install a new ceiling before too long, because Aaron stepped on the ceiling and made a new hole while we were up there.  This brings the “holes in the ceiling” tally to 1 each for Aaron and myself.

For all that work, our thermometer shows the temperature as one degree warmer than it was pre-insulation.  We’ll see if the temperature continues to build as the heat gradient moves down into our living space.

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