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Gutting and insulating an older home

I'm in the process of gutting an 1882 Italianate with balloon construction. The exterior walls are 2x4 with 1" x 12" horizontal planking under the lath and plaster on the interior. I plan on using foam insulation, most likely Icynene. Still learning the open cell vs closed cell debate. Anyhow, it seems such a waste to remove the 1x12 planking it's so solid. Should I or can I leave it up and have the foam blown in behind it? I like the idea of an extra solid wall behind the sheetrock. The other option would be to remove the planks and scab onto the 2x4 making up for the lost bulk of plaster & planking and inturn get a thicker wall of blown in foam, (5 3/8") under the sheetrock. What to do? Thanks.

Re: Gutting and insulating an older home

Gutting an historic house to insulate with modern materials without compensating for the changes in ventilation are risky not to mention that whatever you replace the plaster with will be inferior to what you have removed. Modern plaster is incompatible with old building systems. If you wished a completely insulated house I would suggest buying a new one and leave the historic one intact.

Re: Gutting and insulating an older home

Very helpful, thank you! So you suggest tearing down the 1882 Italianate and building a Split Level? Hmmm. Oh, you're a kidder. This old house has been vacant for quite some time with much water damage and so the wonderful old plaster is basically piles on the floor. Many would level this little gem and put up a Mcmansion but I'm going to save her. Basically it has the best location in the world which makes it all worth it!

Re: Gutting and insulating an older home

My suggestion is not to gut any building. Demolition is not often the correct course of action. No, I am not suggesting that a split level in place of your present house is a better choice. In your particular instance it would seem that since the plaster is on the floor it would need to be replaced with something. My advocacy is to maintain the original plaster. All other things being equal removing plaster to insulate and sheetrock seems to be a step backwards. I'm glad this is not what you are doing. Your area of the Hudson valley is beautiful and has a tremendous stock of historic buildings to draw on for living in. You are very fortunate. Best of Luck on your project.

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