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Thread: Cellulose in a basement

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  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Default Cellulose in a basement

    I am in the process of trying to finish off my basement in my 1915 Bungalow.

    My foundation walls are cinder block and about the top 2' of the wall is above grade. I am keeping the wood studs about 1-2" off the block walls. Originally, I though about using fiberglass batting with mold resistant sheet rock, but am a bit worried about the batting taking on moisture. The blocks have been painted, I am thinking it is paintd with a masonry paint, but can't think of the name of paint.

    I called one of the cellulose companies and asked if it was ok to use in the basement and they said if I had a vapor(?) barrier against the block wall it was ok. The lady said heavy mill plastic, special paint or even rigid foam would be fine.

    Does anyone have any experience with this? I have had moisture in my basement during heavy, heavy rains, but I am making progress on eliminating the moisture as most of it is from poor drainage.

    I looked at a lumber yard and they had 3/4" white foam sheets for about $3-4 a sheet, which wasn't too bad. The problem is I don't know enough about the difference in the rigid foams. Do I need a special type? What do I "tape" the seems with. Would something else be better?

    I just feel the cellulose and foam would provide a very draft free basement with pretty consistant temps all year round.

    A contractor friend of mine said all he thinks I need is the rigid foam and thinks I'd be wasteing my money on the cellulose. I figure total cost of foam and cellulose would be max $200 for the area in question.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Corning has some foam insulating panels specifically made for basement walls that interlock to provide the vapor barrier...you may want to look at them. If you ever got moisture up from the floor, the cellulose would be a big problem in the walls...the foam generally doesn't absorb anything.

    I would think you wouldn't need that much space behind the studs, and you might think about buying a kit to spray the foam in after you get the wiring in place. You might want to consider plastic conduit for it, but that may be overkill. The R factor can vary significantly between different foam boards and the type of spray on, should you choose one of those. I think I'd avoid batt fiberglass where there have been moisture problems.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Engineer garyl53's Avatar
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    Here is a good reference for insulation basements.

    http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...nt-insulation/

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    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    I'll read what the link has to say, in a minute.

    As for the rest, I've looked into the foam and that just doesn't seem cost effective. We are probably talking $1000-$2000+ to do it myself vs. $100-$200+ to add cellulose and foam board.

    I agree if the cellulose gets very wet, it would likely be a problem, but I would think if the foam can keep the moisture off the cellulose on the wall side, I should be good there and most likely if I decide to use the cellulose, I'd probably run foam only along the bottom 1' of the walls. That way, moisture would really have to travel up to reach any cellulose and I do believe it can handle a little bit of water. Unless I'm mistaken.

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    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, and I've looked into the owens corning panel as well. They do look very nice, but again too pricey in my opinion. Maybe in some parts of the country or areas where water infiltration is a big big problem, they might be worth it, but honestly my basement stays pretty dry except where the grade was bad. All of those areas are being delt with and fixed.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Cellulose is mold food..all it takes is a little moisture. Since it is packed fairly dense, it would take forever to dry out. Depends on how much insulation you want. Foam would give you the most/inch, with cellulose probably second, then fiberglass. But, if you are willing to lose that much floor space with the studs out there, then fiberglass may be the least expensive per R-factor. Not sure how many cubic feet you need, but the fairly big self-install kits for foam spray on are not too dear. it's messy, and depending on how much needs to be done, the break-even point from having it done may mean adding their labor and materials becomes cheaper than you can buy the materials for yourself.

    Since you don't have to worry about air infiltration as you might in the attic or an upstairs wall, the fiberglass may be the best bang for the buck.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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