Installing Insulation Over Concrete Wall


Basements and concrete foundation walls are a source of heat loss. If you insulate concrete walls to the recommended R-11 of the U.S. Department of Energy's Model Energy Code, or R-15 if you live in a northern state, you can expect to save a considerable amount of money on your home heating costs. R-values, such as the R-11 and R-15 required for concrete insulation, indicate the amount of resistance to heat flow in insulating materials. The higher the number, the greater the insulating qualities.

Renovating a basement into livable space is often a do-it-yourself project. You can insulate concrete walls with foam insulation, but if you are adding drywall as part of the renovation project, fiberglass batting is a cheaper choice for basement insulation that is easy to install.

Things You'll Need

  • Personal protective equipment
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Caulk gun
  • Tape
  • Composite wood
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Powder-actuated tool
  • Nails
  • Studs
  • Utility knife
  • Staples
  • Staple gun
  • Survey the walls of the basement for cracks and signs of leaks. Repair any cracks with appropriate concrete sealers.

  • Attach foam board to the concrete walls of the basement with a tube of carpenter's glue in a caulk gun. Tape each of the seams with a tape approved for insulation.

  • Measure the length of one wall. Cut a piece of composite decking the length of the wall. Attach the board to the floor adjacent to the wall with nails from a powder-actuated tool. This machine acts like a gun that shoots nails into concrete. The composite board serves as a dam to prevent any water from the basement floor from wicking up the wood in the wall. Attach the composite decking all the way around the basement.

  • Nail another layer of pine studs on top of the composite decking. Cut the studs to fit along the top of the wall. Nail them to the first floor joists.

  • Install the vertical studs. Attach them to the floor and ceiling members from the previous step. Make sure the studs are plumb by using a level. Also, make sure they are 18-inches apart.

  • Unroll fiberglass insulation into each of the wall cavities created by the studs. Do not pack it too tightly. Cut it with a utility knife. Attach the insulation to the studs with staples.

  • Cut insulation to fill in the areas above the rim joists. Staple them in place as well.

  • Attach a moisture vapor barrier to the outside of the studs. Depending on the type of foam insulation you use and the local building codes, you may be able to skip this step.

  • Continue with the drywall installation to complete your basement insulation project.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before you begin your project, check with your local building codes administrator. Many municipalities require covering insulation on a concrete wall with studs and drywall. Make sure you have your building permits in place before you begin your project.
  • Wear protective eyewear and a facemask or respirator when working with insulation. Cover all of your body with clothing.

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  • Photo Credit issue de secours image by Jacques PALUT from
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