How can I insulate without tearing out my plaster walls?

Answered by Brett Kulina ~ December 8, 2012 ~ No Comments

Is it possible to add insulation to the uninsulated exterior walls of a 1969 house -- without tearing out the inside walls?

-- Marianna C.

Brett Kulina

Marianna, adding insulation to your home's walls is an excellent idea, as this type of home improvement might increase the overall energy efficiency of your home, not to mention that well-insulated walls can help keep a home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. If you want to install the new insulation without tearing out the existing interior walls, then you should choose a fiberglass or cellulose insulation that is blown-in to the wall cavity from the exterior side of the wall.

Although you should consult a professional insulation installer to determine which installation method is going to be best for your specific house, typically a small hole is cut through the home's exterior siding and sheathing, which allows loose insulation to be blown into each stud bay of the wall. After each stud bay is packed with insulation, the holes are patched with the original siding material and sealed with an exterior-grade silicone sealant. Although this is an effective way to insulate your home's walls without disturbing the interior walls, keep in mind that it is not always possible to completely conceal the patched holes in your home's siding (a typical house will require one hole every 16-24" for the entire length of the wall).

Another option for you could be to install the blown-in insulation from the inside of your home, which would necessitate cutting and patching several small holes in your interior walls. Personally I like this option better, as sheet rock (or plaster) repairs easily and the patch can be completely concealed from view under a few coats of paint. Another advantage of cutting the holes on the inside of the wall is that you don't need to worry about rain water eventually finding its way into the wall cavity through a less than perfect patch job.

Whichever installation method you ultimately choose, the important take away is that an insulated home is head and shoulders above a non-insulated home in terms of comfort level, energy consumption, and noise infiltration from the outside. Being that your home was originally constructed without any insulation in the walls, you should probably inspect and evaluate the attic and basement while you're at it!

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