Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Knotty Pine Purgatory

This is not a suspicion of mine. I have long since known that hell is paved not with good intentions, but with knotty pine. However, one proverbial quality of hell was absent on the morning of December 8th, and that would be heat:
Yes. That reads 45°F. That’s 8.5°C, but just as cold whether in F or C. And please note, this is not the great outdoors, but a room in our very own Knotty Pine Purgatory. This was a little experiment I conducted as the outside temperature plummeted to -20°C with a wind-chill prohibitively howling at around -29. (At those temps, you’re frost-bitten in about 20 minutes, Celsius or Fahrenheit, who cares, what matters is that you have multiple coatings of thermonuclear polar fleece on every square inch of your body.) To conduct this little experiment, however, all I needed to do was close the door to the guest room for the night and watch the temperature drop.
Well, it was 45°F in our guest room that morning, the much heralded and much loved room that all our guests comment on. It also proves my point, that if I had “too much wool” or “too many clothes” the room would have better insulation and wouldn’t be this cold, but once again, I am digressing.
It is glaringly obvious that we need to renovate our upstairs, and the day that we will start the tear-down is fast approaching. We have a deadline of next May to have the work completed, or we forfeit the rebate we will receive under the EcoEnergy Retrofit Program sponsored by our federal government. We pay enough taxes, so it would be nice if some of it actually went back into our pockets, and not out the window like our heat.
You see the vacuum-cleaner in the above photo? It NEVER gets put away - I think if it did, we'd suffocate on dog and cat hair. And the Rubbermaid bins? They are for my wool collection that is currently housed in the guest room and needs to be moved out at all costs. And the post made of 2 x 4's? It serves no purpose, and there are 2 of them. I can just picture the space we are going to gain when these come down!
Guests think our upstairs looks "so cozy", (I think they're being polite, after all cozy is just a euphemism for unbelievable mess)...they love the knotty-pine look (so do I, but I don’t want to live in it), and think it feels just like Grandma’s house. On some points, they are right. Knotty pine is nice when you’ve rented a ski chalet in Vermont, and it is cozy when it’s insulated, but there is exactly no insulation behind the pine whatsoever. That this house has been standing 150 years and no one has thought about this detail concerns me a bit. Although we replaced the windows with high-efficiency argon-filled thermal panes, the walls are bare: from the inside, we have knotty pine, some furring strips, and great spaces of nothing but space. Cold Space.
We aren’t exactly sure how long the knotty pine has been up, but one thing is for sure: whoever did the job was a “weekend warrior” when it came to home renovation.
In some places, the boards don’t even join, the doors have such major gaps, I can literally stick my hand under one door, and generally, just the fact there is no insulation warrants a major renovation.
So this winter, we are going to tear down all the pine, get right down to the outside exterior wall that is comprised of 1) horizontal pine (Eastern True Fir or Hemlock) , 3” thick by 12” high joined by tongue-and-groove, clad on the inside with 1½” thick vertical boards, some up to 14” wide. Due to water infiltration, years, mice and rot, some of these boards will have to be replaced, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Eric is going to put up 2”x6” studs and insulate with 6” Roxul Flexibatt (fireproof) to give us a R22 rating, the same as the insulation in the roof (after we removed the sawdust and re-insulated!) We will probably use the Ayr-Foil barrier again, because we are convinced that it makes a huge difference in heating and cooling based on its use downstairs, even if it is a bitch to install. (I am sure some of these R&D types have never held a hammer before, but again, I am digressing…)
Right now we are having trouble getting the insulation; it seems Roxul is behind in deliveries, and with the up-coming holiday and maintenance shutdowns, who knows when we will be able to get what we need. None of our home-renovation big-box stores that carry this product have it in stock, nor are they able to tell us if they even have some ordered. Bullsh!t is all I can say; I've been on both sides of that coin, and I know when to cry foul. We even wanted to PRE-PAY 40 bags' worth - that's a $1200 order - but no one seems to be capable of taking an order like that. Cash and carry is nice when the product is in stock...but really...40 bags is nearly a truck-load and no one can place an order? Wow. And have you ever tried to contact any one at Home Depot? Talk about the royal run-around. When you finally do get someone on the phone, don't expect any semblance of precise information, just be thankful you actually managed to get through to a live human being. Eric ended up going to the store with a friend's pick-up and trailer to get 10 bags that were "in stock" (ha ha), only to be told that, "Oops, we are so sorry, it seems we don't have any at all!". Gee, thanks for the heads-up! Grrrr...don't get me started. Seems no one wants to be accountable for anything, anymore.
So keep tuned. All I want is Gyproc, all over…then we’ll talk about paint, paneling and what-not. Some insulation, a sink and toilet, and of course, a bit more closet space.

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