Insulation in the home does many things for the homeowner. First and foremost it holds the summer’s heat out and winter’s bitter cold out. The main two places in the home where insulation is installed for its thermal benefits are in the attic and inside exterior walls As high as energy bill have risen this becomes increasingly important.
Another job insulation does for us is to muffle sound. Sound waves will penetrate the drywall on one side of the wall, pass through the wall’s cavity, and pass through the sheetrock on the other side.
This does not enhance privacy. If the cavity is filled with insulation however, the sound waves are absorbed substantially. Insulation used in this manner for its acoustic properties is almost exclusively inside interior walls.
Good Beginner Project
All this comes from the use of insulation and at a very low cost. Luckily, insulation installation is a very easy project. There are many forms of insulation. The most commonly used for residential purposes is made from fiberglass. It can be purchased with or without a paper facing.
Paper facing is highly recommended. When stood up between studs in a wall, the paper flaps on the sides can be stapled to the studs, ensuring that the insulation will keep its shape and not sag with gravity over time, reducing its effectiveness. Paper also minimizes contact with the itchy fiberglass. Insulation is is available in rolls or in pre-cut bats.
Wear Protection when Installing Insulation
Personal protective gear is always recommended when handling or installing insulation. You will need goggles, a hat, a respirator (cheap ones are suitable, fiberglass fibers are quite large), and long pants and sleeves. Gloves are a good idea if they don’t make your job too cumbersome.
You don’t want to breath the airborne fibers. The jury is still out as to how damaging they might be but almost certainly fiberglass is not as deadly as asbestos.
Installing Insulation in Walls
In the best case scenario, insulation installation will be taking place in new construction, before the sheetrock or paneling is hung. Otherwise it will be necessary to cut out some sheetrock and stuff in loose insulation and the re-install the sheetrock.
Assuming the project uses roll insulation with paper backing, simply start at one end of the wall and work down to the other end. First measure the distance between the top plate and the bottom plate, cut that length of insulation, stick it in between the studs with the paper face facing you and staple the edges of the paper to the studs. You may have to do this in pieces due to plumbing, etc.
Installing Insulation in the Attic
In the attic it will not be necessary to do any stapling on any horizontal surfaces. You simply roll it out. Typically this is done with the paper side facing down. Some minor adjustment may be necessary, especially in tight spaces.