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Structural work

In my previous post I said that this week I had one day off for my house renovation project. So let's take a closer look at that.

It's about the entrance part of my house. Last year I managed to make it weatherproof, but all the interior work was left for indefinite 'to-be-done-later-on'. I survived all the winter through without any thermal insulation in the entrance part, so practically inside the entrance hall it was as cold as outdoors. And it was last Thursday when I finally was ready to continue with the renovation project. This phase of the project has three main parts:
1) a supporting structure to divide the entrance hall into two floors (2"*4" timber)
2) thermal insulation (4" thick sheet of linen fabric, and a layer of paper to stop draft)
3) inner panelling (some ready-made panel, depends on what they have on the local saw mill)

All through the winter I've been slowly thinking of the exact details of 1). The basic idea is simple - I need some horizontal timber to divide the high space into two floors. And, most likely, I'll also need some vertical timber to support the ceiling. Now, there are various ways to do this, and on Thursday I made my final decision. I took measures and cut pieces, and made a temporary support structure to make the actual construction work easier. On Friday I had few hours to continue with the project. And this Saturday, after returning from the lake, I've been doing some more structural work. Nothing special about it : 2" by 4" studs and beams, secured together by 4" screws.

I realized that I'd better install the thermal insulation on the west wall before securing the final pieces of the supporting structure. I haven't been doing this kind of work before, but it turned out to be rather easy. For thermal insulation I've bought 4" thick sheets of linen fabric. Each sheet is 24" wide, and in the supporting structure of the outer wall there is 23" space in between each vertical stud. So, a sheet of linen fabric has to be squeezed a little to make it fit in between the studs - and once there, it stays just by itself. The linen sheets come as rolled - one of the reasons I chose all natural linen is that it is much more pleasant to handle than the ordinary mineral wool. Anyone who has been handling miner wools knows that it leaves your skin itchy, and I'm not sure if it emits any not-so-pleasant dust to be inhaled. So, I'm happy to buy same kind of material, with the standard measures, just made out of linen fabric. On top of the wool comes a layer of draft-stopping paper.

Like that. So, I got the 1) completed, and 2) is 30% completed. After a longish hiatus this makes me feel fine - the renovation project is advancing, and I enjoy working with it. Good!

studs and beams
studs and beams
thermal insulation
thermal insulation
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Very interesting. I have not heard of that linen insulation before. How does the R-value and price compare to fiberglass insulation?

Hehe, took me a while to find out that in Europe R-value goes by name U-value, more commonly lambda value =) So, if we are speaking about the same thing, the smaller the value the better the insulation capacity.

For the standard mineral wool the lambda value is 0.036 W/mK ,
for the linen wool it is 0.038 W/mK - so it seems to be nearly the same.

Well, but there is a difference in price. Mineral wool is about 6.50 €/m2, and I paid 14.50 €/m2 for the linen wool. Luckily enough, the whole entrance part is that small, that it won't ruin my budget. So I can afford to pay double price for a material which is ten times nicer to handle =)

For more info in English see their web-page.

As a side-note: In Europe we use the metric system everywhere, but for some reason timber, screws, nails etc. are often measured in inches. So, the widely used timber product is commonly called kakkosnelonen which literally means "two-by-four".

Phew! That is expensive insulation! But I guess it is worth it if it means doing it right the first time and not having to go back and fix it again in 30 years.... But yeah, that fiberglass sure gets unpleasant after a while. I still use it anyway because it is less expensive than anything else I have come across so far, hehe.

I have been thinking about using some 2" styrofoam sheets when I insulate my floors, and cutting them to fit between the joists. I am thinking maybe like screwing some strips down the insides of the joists, that I can then lay a strip of Lauan on (to hold the styrofoam up, and to keep the critters under the house from digging at it), and then laying the styrofoam on top of that such that it would be even with the tops of the joists, and then putting the subfloor over that. But I don't really know what I am doing, lol. I guess I could do the same thing with fiberglass, but I am thinking like maybe the styrofoam sheets would be more resistant to falling out of the bottom of the floor like the more flexible insulations always seem to do, though..... Especially if I squirted some glue around before installing the subfloor, so that the styrofoam would be firmly attached to the underside of the subfloor.

I'm always so carefree with wearing protective gloves and masks - so I was thinking that if fiberglass makes my skin itch, then what do the same particles do inside my lungs... So, basically, I'm paying the extra price because of my stubborn habit of working barehanded =)

Your plan with your floor sounds all reasonable to me. Styrofoam is commonly used in floors, so I'd guess it will work the way you plan.

Ps. as you might have noticed, I've again been lagging a bit behind following your video blog. I hope I can catch up the coming week!

Oh, I haven't done anything very interesting anyway, haha.

I had no idea linen insulation existed, was nice to learn something new :) It may be more expensive, but if you can afford it I think it is a good choice, because the traditional insulation gave my brother allergies that till this day (2 years have passed) he could not get ride off. It was because of a job he did once, where he applied insulation in a roof without protective mask... Since then I am very careful with this stuff. It was a good choice of you, better pay a little more in material than a lot in health.


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