Most people do not give serious thought to insulating the interior walls of their homes. One of the main reasons for insulating interior walls is to absorb sound transmission from room to room. In addition, adding insulation to interior walls will enhance the energy efficiency and overall comfort level of individual rooms by allowing them to heat up or cool down quicker and maintain the comfort level longer.
Whether it is new construction, remodeling projects or existing walls, there are several approaches to insulating interior walls. Before you start an interior wall insulation project, give some thought to the intended use for each room, such as bedroom, theater room, baby room or home office. For example, you may focus more on insulating the walls for a home theater room because of the higher level of sound that may emanate from the room. In bedrooms, it may be a matter of insulating to prevent the clear transmissions of normal conversation and sounds.
Speak with your building department official and professional insulation contractors in your area. Although interior insulation is not required, these people can give you insights on interior wall insulation techniques, recommended R-values and other valuable information. If you plan on insulating interior basement walls, ask about the best approach to the project. In addition, find out from the building department inspector how vapor barriers should be used for interior walls.
Check all the walls for signs of moisture or water leaks. Look for cracks, gaps or crevices where the elements can penetrate the wall. Pay particular attention to basement walls. With the possible exception of foam, most insulation will not stop water or air infiltration. In fact, water will cause insulation to settle and create bare spots, and you will lose the material's insulating value.
If you are insulating the interior walls of a basement, make sure that the walls are perfectly dry and that humidity is not a problem. If you live in a very hot and humid climate, it may not be wise to insulate the interior basement walls because of the risk of moisture buildup, which can cause rot, mildew and mold.
When remodeling or working with new wall systems, use a high-quality caulk between framing members, such as horizontal top plates, bottom plates and at the ceiling and floor. This will prevent not only air transmission, but sound transmission as well.
You can use just about all the common types of insulation in interior wall assemblies, such as fiberglass batt (blanket), Rockwool or cellulose insulation. The cellulose and wool insulation can be blown into the wall cavities. There are also various types of sound insulation on the market, including batt-type insulation and acoustical panels.
If you are insulating for sound, consider installing solid-core doors in place of the hollow-core doors typically used in interior rooms.
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