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Robert Larson
The never ending question on basement insulation

My home is 2020 square feet with full basement. My home builder, also my friend, helped me frame my basement. When I asked him about insulating the concrete walls before we framed it he said to just insulate between the studs and cover with drywall and not to use a vapor barrier at all. Now that I have the wiring done, the insulation issue is here (again) and I hope I haven't set myself back after researching the complicated and confusing area of properly insulating basements.

I live in SW Michigan with clay soil. My house is 4 years old and I was wise enough to let the basement concrete walls dry throughly and watch for moisture areas. The walls have NEVER produced any moisture except on both sides of the walk-out corners, which face North. These areas will frost during extreme cold weather but only a couple feet in. I use a de-humidifier in the summer to remove the damp smell even though no moisture is visible.

Now for my question. Can I insulate between the studs allowing the insulation to touch the concrete (except where the frost forms) and then cover the insulation with a vapor barrier and then drywall? There is drainage tubes all around the exterior foundation and all rainwater runs into eaves and into underground tiles and is carried away from the house.

Re: The never ending question on basement insulation

Actually, I think you've got it backwards. The vapor barrier goes on the inside to prevent moisture laden indoor air from traveling toward the cooler outside wall and condensing inside the insulation, thus ruining it's effectiveness. Any moistore on your outside wall needs to be handled in another manner (that's a whole other discussion). In your case, you are proposing exactly the correct procedure. Insulate the stud bays, put up a vapor barrier to protect the migration of indoor air toward the outside, then sheetrock.


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