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Insulating Your Subfloor: Is It Worth It?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Alright. Gary in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    GARY: I wanted to ask you about the benefits of insulating your subfloor.

    TOM: The benefits are warm feet. (Leslie chuckles)

    GARY: Well, that’s what I’ve always heard and then – I’ve done building and remodeled; I worked for the [inaudible]. I’ve done all these kinds of things over the years and I thought, you know, I’m a tall guy and it’s hard to get under there. I’m going to hire a contractor. 

    So, I called the insulation guy …

    TOM: Right.

    GARY: … and he said, “It’s a waste of money.” He says you don’t gain anything and I was really surprised to hear that, especially since we’re going to go from carpet to hardwood or tile.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Yeah. Well, I don’t agree with that. It’s true that most of the heat loss is going to be through your ceiling, followed by your walls; so the floor is responsible for the least amount of heat loss. But there is an important consideration when it comes to comfort. You know, we’re kidding about the cold feet but it really is true: if you have an insulated floor, you’re going to find that that floor surface is a lot warmer than it is right now. And I do think that insulating floors is a good idea and, in fact, in most building codes, they require floors to be insulated.

    So, I think you’ve got an insulation guy there that might just not want the job; you may want to move on to find somebody who does. But it’s not a terribly complex job; it’s not difficult to do. It’s kind of a nasty place to work for a couple of hours but I think that you will find that it’s a good thing to do; it’ll save you a little bit of money and make the place a lot more comfortable.

    GARY: Well and the – when you say uncomfortable and it’s a pretty good task, this is an older home and it’s set on 4x6s with four feet between centers and then 2×6 and then plywood above that, so it’s a little more than just going in and throwing some 24-inch batts across there. You got any suggestions?

    TOM: Because the joists are wider than normal? Is that what you’re saying? The space between the joists?

    GARY: (overlapping voices) Yeah, [instead of] (ph) two-foot centers, they’re four-foot centers.

    TOM: Yeah. Hmm. Alright. Well, then what you’re going to have to do is you’re going to have to come up with some strategy for supporting the insulation in place. How could you do that? I’ve seen it done with chicken wire where you put the insulation batts up and then you basically run some chicken wire underneath and tack that up kind of as you go. And that supports it and holds it in place.

    GARY: (overlapping voices) Oh, that’s a good idea.

    TOM: So I would come up with a creative solution like that; I think that’ll do the trick.

    GARY: Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. Plus, you don’t have to worry about dogs and cats and other things getting in there.

    TOM: Or chickens.

    GARY: There you go. (Tom and Leslie laugh) Alright. Hey, that’s great. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 

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