Thursday, 11 April 2013

Bathroom reno - There are always surprises when a wall comes down

Well, the demo has begun, and as usual the walls concealed some interesting surprises. First of all, the wall was made of a thick heavy cement which made the removal of the tub almost impossible. It had to be cut in two. Our builder was not happy; his charge at the transfer station dumping off the heavy cement was higher than expected.

Part of our bathroom wall

Secondly, we did not have  2 x 4 framing on the walls but instead 3/4" x 1 1/4" slats. This meant there was no room for the cotton insulation we had purchased.  We chose not to add 2 x 4 framing because of limited space and we would have had to give up the bathtub.

Bathroom walls opened up

 We briefly considered using 1/2" foam board, as suggested by our builder.  However, when we looked into it we found that it contains many toxic chemicals and if it burns it releases toxic fumes.  Reject!  We also looked at cork board but we only had a day to source it before the walls were closed up so we did not have time to look for it.

Once we realized we could only put 1/2" insulation in our walls and the insulating benefit would be minimal, whatever product we used, we decided to use no insulation.  Since we did not use any insulation we also chose not to use a vapour barrier. The cement board is mold resistant and dries if it gets wet.  There is a school of thought that believes that plastic vapour barriers can cause unwanted condensation.  The bonus is that we don't use any plastic.

This may seem controversial but having a green home is not just about saving energy.  A completely sealed and insulated home keeps the heat in, but also keeps off gassing toxins in your home and fresh air out.  We made the best decision we could in our circumstance to balance energy saving and air quality.  


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