How To Insulate Existing Home Walls Without Demolishing Them

by Nancy Brenseke 09/11/2022

One primary reason everyday people bear with drafty homes stems from construction costs. Old houses and those with failing exterior wall insulation seem to require costly demolition. The idea that drywall or select wood wall materials require removal and replacement often causes property owners to take a deep breath and think about something else.

The good news is homeowners enjoy increased access to quality insulation materials which may not require wall demolition.

What insulation materials are available?

The two leading materials that generally do not require wall removal are loose-fill cellulose and spray foam. These products task installers with drilling small holes — between ½ and two inches — in strategic locations. Specialized equipment then funnels the material into the exterior walls between the framing studs.

The idea is to pack the vacant spaces with material that deters air penetrations. These are differences to consider between loose cellulose and spray foam materials.

  • Loose Cellulose: Properly installed and packed loose cellulose can deliver a higher R-value rating than a good deal of fiberglass batt products. This material may be best suited for older homes with little or no exterior wall insulation, which is largely because it may not push aside impediments such as outdated insulation behind walls. Another criticism of loose cellulose involves "settling." When not tightly packed, gaps can emerge at the top of exterior walls.
  • Spray Foam: Injecting spray foam ranks among the viable solutions to reduce or eliminate drafts. This seemingly wet material floods the space between exterior wall studs and can form a firm barrier against air penetrations. Although spray foam also outpaces many fiberglass insulators, it does present a risk. Excessive spray foam funneled into walls can expand, resulting in cracks and bowed walls.

Not every handy DIY homeowner possesses the equipment or experience to effectively install insulation without removing walls, which is why it's essential to work with an experienced professional installer.

How to choose an exterior wall insulation material

Consult with an experienced insulation contractor that uses both materials. Their assessment of the house could prove invaluable in terms of selecting the best option. And, don't hesitate to field multiple quotes before writing a check because installation costs can differ significantly.

About the Author
Author

Nancy Brenseke

I love the ocean, sand and sunshine! That's why I call Hilton Head Island/Bluffton my home! I relocated to Hilton Head Island over 20 years ago from North Carolina after graduating from East Carolina University - Go Pirates! I continue to be successful in real estate for the past 13 Years and with my experience working with top resorts and gated communities, I have cultivated attention to detail, understand the importance of listening first and have the positive "Can Do" attitude in all situations. I offer my sellers and buyers the BEST advice to achieve their real estate goals. I enjoy spending time with my family boating on the May River, attending festivals along Old Town Bluffton and building sandcastles on HHI beaches.  

"Nancy Brenseke is the type of realtor that everyone should contract to sell their property. She is very knowledgeable and gave us valuable information when listing the townhome. The whole process went smoothly and Nancy was responsible for that. She always communicated with us which kept us confident that all aspects of the closing were under control and on track. I highly recommend Nancy Brenseke." ~ Deb Bluffton, SC

"I would highly recommend using Nancy for your real estate needs. She is extremely knowledgeable and responsive. Nancy's representation is top-notch." ~ Jill - Nashville, TN

"Nancy went the extra mile on everything around selling the condo. I would use her again and would recommend her to anyone I come in contact with. Our condo sold in 1 day! She was excellent and hardworker. She helped in all aspects of selling, from marketing with great number of pictures, to home inspection with helping us find contractors to fix the inspection issue so were were able to close." Eric - Cumming, GA