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Ceiling Height


Michael Rivers's Avatar
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03-13-15, 11:41 AM   #1  
Ceiling Height

Feel free to move this to thread to the correct forum.

I realize that this is probably not financially doable, but let's pretend I don't care about money.

Balloon frame house from 1890 in Western New York, converted into upper/lower duplex. The lower floor has drywall ceiling that is about a foot lower than the original (and still there) plaster ceiling.

Given the relative lack of insulation and my dislike of most things in the house, I'm considering tearing down the plaster walls, putting in insulation, and rehanging drywall.

Assuming I do so, would it be more energy efficient to;
Get rid of the false ceiling,
Keep the false ceiling,
Put in a fancy suspended ceiling so I can access pipes in the kitchen easier,
Insulated between false ceiling, assuming I do keep it?

BTW: I'm not a fan of blown in insulation. The house has it in places and it appears to do nothing.

Thank you for any insight.

 
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chandler's Avatar
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03-13-15, 11:50 AM   #2  
What is the height of the original ceiling? Some older homes with 12' ceilings were dropped to 8 or 9' to conserve on heat and cooling costs, so removing it may not be as dramatic as you think. If you get rid of the false ceiling, prepare to install ceiling fans to help equate the stagnant air at the ceiling. If they ran new plumbing/electrical/gas in the overhead area under the plaster, then it may behoove you to install a nice sculptured drop ceiling to allow for future access.

Roxul insulation is a great insulation for your situation. Waterproof, flame retardant, mold resistant, and vermin resistant. Requires no vapor barrier and installs tightly into stud bays, requiring no mechanical fasteners. Sure it is a little more expensive.

 
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03-13-15, 12:31 PM   #3  
Why are you insulating between floors - is the top unoccupied and thus not being heated or cooled?

 
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03-13-15, 03:48 PM   #4  
IMO, suspended ceilings don't belong anywhere in a residential home, with the exception of a finished basement maybe. And even then, the million dollar homes don't usually have suspended ceilings in the basements either unless its a utility room or something.

Now a drop ceiling might be beneficial for the reasons Larry pointed out.

But I will wait to find out the height of the existing drop ceiling and the height of the original ceiling.

 
Michael Rivers's Avatar
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03-16-15, 05:30 AM   #5  
I think the original height for the first floor was around ten feet, dropped to about eight. In the kitchen, some of that space is being used for the plumbing that was installed for the upper unit (bath, kitchen). Due to the bath and kitchen being above the lower kitchen, I thought that a suspended ceiling with decent coffered tiles would look ok and still allow easy access to the plumbing.

When that ceiling was damaged a couple years ago, I saw that there were several batts resting on the drop ceiling. It didn't cover everything, but previous owners strike me as the kind who would have a good idea but not carry it out. For that reason, I asked if insulating that area is a good idea.

I hadn't considered Roxul. I'll give that a look.

stickshift; I didn't say that I was insulating between floors, I asked if I should. To answer your other question, this building is converted into a duplex. Upper and lower apartments are occupied.

XSleeper, were this simply a residential home, I wouldn't ask the question. But, this is a duplex and not exactly a high-end one. My concern is for the house to look nice while still allowing required access.

Thank you all for your thoughts.

EDIT: Roxul looks good, but I guess it comes down to how much more it will cost. Some sites said roxul costs 50% more, some say twice as much, one had fiberglass at $0.50 per square inch and roxul at $0.62 per square foot (pretty sure that was a typo, though).

 
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03-16-15, 06:30 AM   #6  
I didn't say that I was insulating between floors, I asked if I should.
Nope, unless one of the spaces is not being conditioned, this provides little value.

 
Michael Rivers's Avatar
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03-19-15, 05:49 AM   #7  
Thanks for all the input. I've been doing some reading and really like what I've seen of Roxul.
Now, onto some other hypotheticals.

As stated, this is a 130 year old house in western NY

The lumber is most likely true 2x4 and not spaced at 16 inches.
1) What, if anything, needs to be done with Roxul to fill cavities larger than 15.5?
2) If I want to put in 6 inches of insulation, should I add furring strips the entire length, or just where I will screw in the drywall?

The house has some areas that are not conditioned.
1) Basement is not conditioned, but is warmer than outside air in winter and cooler in summer. Should the space between basement and first floor be insulated?
2) There is a long hallway on first floor that it outside the living area, but directly below the upper living area. It gets damn cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Should that area between first and second floor be insulated?

Any other thoughts or questions for me?

 
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03-19-15, 06:17 AM   #8  
When the framing doesn't agree with the precut size of the insulation you don't have a lot of choice other than to cut it to fit [add extra strip of insulation where needed] The only reason to insulate an interior wall or between floors is for sound deadening [usually needed between units] While there may be benefit to insulating the basement ceiling you have to consider how that will impact plumbing and such if there aren't any HVAC vents down there.

Is the hallway heated/cooled? Insulation can only help so much if the space doesn't have adequate heat/cooling.


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03-19-15, 07:38 AM   #9  
That hallway has no heating (house as a whole has no cooling).
EDIT: It was walled off from the rest of the interior to provide access to stairs to the upper level. It has two exterior walls and three windows. Likewise, it has two interior walls (blown insulation, I believe). The upper apartment's main living room is above his hallway.

The basement already has fiberglass batts up, but I question the value and wonder if taking them down would be beneficial at all (especially since I have a few areas where I could use them for a while until I do a better project.
EDIT: The fiberglass has kraft paper facing the basement. Never really understood how that matters in a basement, since the heat from the upper floor will want to go up instead of into the basement. But, if it does actually matter, then the barrier is on the incorrect side.

My main (unasked) concern about framing more than 16 on center is how to hold Roxul in place. Will it hold up with, for instance, a 15.5 piece and a 4" piece wedged together?
EDIT: I guess there is not problem with cutting the insulation into 20" pieces and fitting it in the other direction.


Last edited by Michael Rivers; 03-19-15 at 08:04 AM.
 
marksr's Avatar
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03-19-15, 11:41 AM   #10  
I've never used Roxul but with fiberglass batts I've never had an issue when adding strips to odd sized gaps - friction should hold it in place until the drywall [or whatever] is installed.


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03-19-15, 01:45 PM   #11  
You can cut Roxul easier than fiberglas. I use a long meat carving knife and keep a stone nearby. It will lose it's inherent ability to hold itself in joist bays as it is designed to do, but you can always use stay wires to hold it in if it is required.

 
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03-19-15, 02:02 PM   #12  
An electric carving knife is the ideal tool for cutting Roxul. For small cuts just use a hacksaw blade.

 
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