The Blown-In Blanket Insulation Process

Project: Manhattan Remodel and Cape Cod Affordable, Episode 10, Part 3



Bob is back at the affordable housing project in Mashpee, Massachusetts, where he meets with developer Joe Valle, the chair of the Mashpee Zoning Board of Appeals, Mashpee's Assistant Town Planner, and a representative of the Mashpee Affordable Housing Committee to review how Act 40B benefited the community and the developer through creative zoning relief. At one home site, Bob learns about the detailed and finial-capped, maintenance-free vinyl picket fence from Perfection Fence that will sit in front of each home. The exterior of the house is being clad with cedar shakes on three sides and LP SmartSide engineered lap siding on the front fa?ade. This siding is made of medium-density oriented strand board (MDO) faced with a textured paint-based overlayer that gives a rough-textured, pre-primed, cedar-look appearance to the clapboards. SmartSide siding resists fungal growth and termites and carries a 30-year transferable warranty. Inside they are putting up the fabric to hold in the Blow-In-Blanket insulation in the wall and ceiling cavities. Pulling the fabric tight across the cavities holds the insulation in place and prevents settling. Once the untreated fiberglass insulation is blown in to a two-pound density, the exterior walls will have an R-value of 15.
Part 1: Working to Develop Affordable Housing and Installing a Maintenance Free Vinyl Picket Fence
Part 2: Installing Smartside Engineered Wood Siding
Part 3: The Blown-In Blanket Insulation Process
Bob is joined by Mike Hobson of Westchester Insulation as the crew prepares one of the Mashpee houses for insulation installation. Hobson explains that this is a patented insulation system that uses special fabric stapled and drawn tight across any cavity that needs to be insulated. The crew works with pneumatic staplers to get the fabric in place across all the walls and the joists of the cathedral ceiling. The fabric is not intended as a moisture barrier of any kind and is just there to hold the insulation in place and prevent it from settling. Hobson shows Bob the white fiberglass that will be blown into the cavities. It is white because it is a virgin product, completely free of treatments, binders, or chemicals. Certainteed and Johns Manville both produce fiberglass insulation that is suitable for the Blow-In-Blanket installation. Once all cavities have been enclosed, the insulation contractor cuts a slit in the fabric and inserts a hose through which the fiberglass is blown. The cavity is filled to a density of two pounds per cubic foot which is visible to the eye by a slight bulge in the fabric. At this density, an R-value of 15 is achieved in two-by-four cavities like walls. In attics and ceiling cavities that are two-by-six, an R-value of 38 can be achieved. This insulation is inert and will not support moisture, mold, animals, or insects. It also serves as a sound insulator and can be blown in around drain lines, in interior partitions, and around tubs and showers. Blo-In-Blanket insulation is suitable for new construction or retrofit applications where it is blown in through the sheathing from the outside or through interior drywall to fill wall cavities. Blow-In-Blanket insulation costs about 50 to 60 percent more to install than traditional batt insulation, but offers such energy efficiency that it pays for itself within two to four years.
This project deals with two very different notions of home. Bob begins on New York City's Upper West Side, where an 1890s Brownstone is revitalized through high-quality craftsmanship and sensitive design. New York's past meets its present, as the entire floor is recaptured and refurbished to create a spacious urban apartment on the doorstep of Central Park.

At the same time, Bob works with a Cape Cod developer to apply Massachusetts land use statute 40B to create affordable housing, and a neighborhood of homes in Mashpee, MA. These Energy Star certified homes show how quality building practices and reasonable asking prices can work together to provide livable, affordable homes and neighborhoods to those who work in our communities.

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