METAL STUDS ARE UP…ROXUL GOES IN

      With the addition of Cathy, our team has taken on a third member. The myth that a woman cannot work in a construction environment is just that….a myth. Years ago, when such a thing was seen as still uncommon, I apprenticed a gal in finish carpentry. Sue refused to be outdone and excelled in her field.

    If you have missed past columns on the “green church” project, go to www.alltechgreenchurch.ca for a review of where we started and how far we’ve come. Last week, the metal stud interior went up and it was decided that we would use Roxul insulation for the walls and the slanted part of the ceiling. Cellulose will be added to the wood chips that are already there in the flat part above that and closed cell spray foam will be applied in the crawl space.  The insulation package will be complete with the application of low pressure window/door foam. Any new home builder or major renovator, who hopes to attain the level of efficiency that we are aiming for, will have a similar package.

    Roxul is the result of combining basalt rock and slag; heating until it attains a liquid state, and spinning it into fibres, which are then blended into water resistant batts.  I have witnessed water poured directly onto a Roxul batt and watched, very impressed, as it simply rolled off. Due to its density, Roxul has a greater value in air reduction than other types of insulation, thereby helping with the energy performance that we are expecting. While we will not get every “nook and cranny” insulated in a renovation, every little bit helps and restricted air flow helps reduce the tendency for condensation to build up within the actual batts during the winter months.

    Roxul also has a number of other benefits that helped override the cost difference vs. fibreglass batt insulation. Most of it concerns workability and density. When you are expecting a batt insulation to stay put in an angled wall and hold its shape, you are asking a lot, Roxul stands alone here.  Spar and John came up with a simple jig. They built a 2x6 frame on a platform (see picture below) and, using a quick fit spacer to hold the batt and give them a straight edge, they were able to efficiently produce precise cuts. Because the church walls are not conventional height, it necessitated considerable “cut to length” pieces. With the drive to have everything fit snug, the jig worked beautifully. So very simple, yet it was a huge timesaver, too. The folks at Roxul actually have a “knife” they recommend and we found it very useful for cuts around electrical plugs and switches.

   Working in such close proximity to the insulation, it is an added benefit that Roxul releases so little fibre into the air. As well, in the bright interior of the church, thanks to those tall windows, when the crew was cutting the pieces, there was very little fibre discharge. John found that, while fibreglass batts irritated his skin in the past, he was able to work with Roxul with a short sleeve shirt on during the warm days.

   A crew of three worked well here. Cathy carefully trimmed the window foam, which had been sprayed in a few days before in order to give it a full cure time. It was important that the batts fit snug on the metal base plate. She than began fitting batts on the lower walls while, working off a platform, Spar and John fitted the angled roof section.

    While researching insulation for our project, fit was a major consideration. When we began putting the metal studs up we were told that the batts were 24 ¼ inches wide so that a distance of 24 inches between metal studs was recommended. With over 70 bags of insulation, you can appreciate the importance of getting that right. With this in mind, a couple of bags were brought onsite at the outset. We found that the extra ¼ varied, so we set our metal frame spacers at 23 ¾ inches and found this, ever so slightly smaller opening, made the batts fit nice and snug without compressing them; another concern that I had.


   While the crew from Phase One Electric had wrapped the plugs and switches carefully with 6 ml plastic, we found, as the job went along, that we had to replace the plastic wrap with considerably larger pieces due to the tight fit we were getting. Something you may want to mention to your electrician if you are considering this insulation. The construction crew came up with a system of cutting out a portion of the insulation batt to fit behind the BX wiring and then fitting the leftover piece over the lapped portion that was behind. This made for an amazingly snug fit around the wiring.

   This was the first time that I have used Roxul in such a large project; just over 3000 sq. ft. of insulation was installed. Once done, everyone was pleased with the workability, the lack of irritants and the density that allowed each piece to keep its place as another was added; a nice feature with 12 foot, plus, high walls.

     Every project has a number of supporting trades and suppliers. Atkinson Home Building Centres in Hartington and Kingston are our primary material supplier for this project. We thank them for the excellent pricing and for their commitment to their customers.  Next week the air barrier will go on and, in the meantime, we will be looking at the purchase of pine panelling to finish the walls.