Top ‘er up ……… in the attic!

April 2015

Top ‘er up ……… in the attic! Why Attic Insulation is more than just "adding more insulation"

Apr 21, 2015 2:42 PM
Rich Krechowicz

We receive many inquiries from homeowners asking how much does it cost to “top up” my attic ? We have to inform them that we don’t just “top up” attics, nor would we recommend doing so. We also usually have to explain that “adding insulation” does not necessarily add insulation value. It might, and if it does it will likely only be marginal. We have to assume that consumers want the addition of insulation to produce an increase in insulation effectiveness. I hate to think of how many consumers took the simplistic approach of “topping up their attic”, only to discover that they spent their money unwisely and merely went through the motions.

Quite simply, in most cases an attic requires a certain amount of preparation prior to adding more insulation. Most people would find it unacceptable for a painter to walk into your house and begin painting almost immediately. You would say “hold on a minute” ! It would be expected that the surfaces would need to be sanded, wiped or washed, the cracks filled, and the adjoining areas masked, electrical cover plates removed, etc. Most would argue that this preparation is essential, and by doing so, will produce a result that will be of upmost quality and be more durable. “Insulating” an attic is no different.

Most attics are retrofitted by keeping the insulation that exists, performing the preparations, and then adding cellulose fibre insulation as an “overcoat”. However, there are cases where the existing insulation is removed and has to be removed. If the existing insulation is damaged, is contaminated or if someone wanted a clean start, it would be removed. Sometimes this has to be done manually, but usually is vacuumed out. In this case we can install a superior attic insulation system we call a “hybrid” (with apologies to Toyota !)

A hybrid insulation system involves spray foaming the entire attic floor with one inch or more of medium density foam insulation. This provides a near-perfect air seal or air barrier, and sometimes a vapour barrier. Other preparations might be required, such as retrofitting bath fan or kitchen range hood ducting, blocking large gaps, holes and openings in the attic floor, and installing rafter venting. There may be other things that need attention and detail, like pot lights, skylight shafts, bulkheads, knee walls, demising walls, and other building assemblies that mend into the attic space. Then, cellulose fibre insulation can be blown onto the attic floor. Or, alternatively, Icynene light density foam insulation can be applied onto the attic floor as the sole insulation. This produces a highly effective attic insulation system.Some customers have told us that this system has made their homes significantly more comfortable.Others have told us that their 2nd Floor bedrooms are liveable again, especially in the summer. And the results would even be more substantial and impressive if we started off with a very air “leaky” attic floor.

We believe that whatever condition your attic is in, it could be made better!



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