Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Midnight Mission

Okay, I know I haven't been keeping up with this blogging thing very well...I think its been almost a month since my last update.  Obviously, a lot has happened since then.  We are in drywall right now, and our PM tells us that cabinets will be going in probably on Tuesday.  What else has happened since my last update, you ask?  Well, lets see....HVAC is in.  Plumbing is in.  Wiring is in.  Siding and brick is up.  Insulation is in...which brings me to my Midnight Mission.  But before I get into that, here are a few pics of the siding going up...

Okay, on to the Midnight Mission.  Thanks to several other RH bloggers I've been following, I saw that RH does not put any insulation or soundproofing in the interior walls, at least not here in North Carolina, because it isn't required by code. Several of these bloggers, especially Pinkrage, wrote about installing soundproofing and regular insulation themselves.  This inspired me to do the same.

In our home, the master bedroom and the bonus room are separated by a wall.  We are going to be using the bonus room as a playroom, and because I work nights I really want to do as much as I can to limit how much noise will come through that wall.  We also wanted to sound proof my wife's office on the first floor, which shares a wall with the living room.  So we decided to soundproof both of those areas.  I will tell you, this project turned out to be simultaneously easier and more of a pain in the ass than I thought it would be!

The hardest part was actually finding soundproofing insulation.  Pinkrage said she used this stuff called Roxul Safe and Sound.  For those of you who aren't familiar with insulation, it comes in different forms.  Among other forms, it can come it these flat sections called "batts".   They generally come in 2 standard widths; 16" and 24".  Roxul comes in batts, and its made of this stuff called mineral wool, or rock wool.  Its basically a sort of rigid foamy type of stuff that feels kind of like really firm, foamy cotton candy.  You can cut it with a bread knife, and it keeps its shape.  I researched this stuff and decided this was what I was going to use.  Even found a youtube video (also on Pinkrage's blog) that was really helpful in convincing me that I could do this myself.

So here's where I ran into my first issue.  Apparently, here in the Charlotte area, Roxul is impossible to find on the shelves anywhere.  I had read on Pinkrage's blog how she was able to order the stuff at a local construction supply business and have it within 2 days, so I assumed I'd have the same luck.  Not so.  I went to that same business and they hadn't even heard of the stuff.  When I showed it to them on my phone, they were like, "nope, we don't carry that."  But even worse, they couldn't order it or tell me where I could find it.  I ended up calling every construction supply business I could find, including Lowes and Home Depot, as well as actual soundproofing businesses.  Every place I talked to gave me one of two responses: either they had never heard of this stuff, or it wasn't in stock, and it would take over 10 days to have it shipped.  This was 7 days before I was going to need it.  I even contacted the regional distributor for Roxul, which is located several hours away.  When I asked how quickly I could get an order, they asked if I was ordering half a truckload or an entire truckload...turns out they won't sell to individuals.

I was getting extremely tense, one might even say shitting bricks, because I had made a huge fuss with my wife about how I wasn't going to pay our contractor friend to do it, because I was going to handle this myself...and now I couldn't get the materials I needed and I couldn't even find an alternative brand.  Not good...but then I found CK Supply and the guy there told me that, while they didn't carry Roxul, they had another product that was "identical" to Roxul, made of the same stuff.  It's called Minwool Sound Attenuation Fire Batts.  Apparently, its used as both a fire-safe product, as well as a soundproofing product.  It goes up the same way Roxul does; you just stuff it in between the studs.  So I went up there, figured out how much I needed, and hauled it home.  If anyone is planning on doing this, you will definitely need a truck or minivan.  I literally had every bit of room of my van filled with this crap, and I only bought enough to do a little more than 2 walls.  I could hardly turn my head without burying my nose in it.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures of what it looks like, but if you click here you can go to the IIG site and look at it.  I will say I was a little nervous when I got it, because even though the guy at the supply store said it was the exact same stuff, it doesn't look exactly like Roxul does, at least from what I saw from the video's online.  It also seemed a little less rigid than Roxul looks.  Just to be safe, I bought a construction-grade staple gun and 9/16" staples at Lowe's.  I also bought one of those coal miner's helmet lights, because I knew I'd probably be installing this stuff at night, and at that time there was no electricity in the house.  Both purchases ended up being very wise...or lucky.  Whatever.

Now, I've got to be clear about this for anyone who may not already know--if you're going to do this, you have to do it AFTER the pre-drywall inspection, but BEFORE they start installing drywall.  So there's a very small window you have available to do it, and you also have to be flexible.  When I told our PM (who I have to say is f*cking awesome) what I wanted to do, he was like, "just clean up any blood before you leave..."  Love this guy!  But I'm glad I asked him, because I assumed that I would be installing this stuff that night after our pre-drywall meeting.  Not so.  This was a Thursday night, but he told me that the inspector wouldn't be out until Monday or Tuesday to do the inspection, so basically I had to be ready to go with short notice.

That Tuesday afternoon I got the green light from my PM, but due to a school function for one of my daughters, I couldn't get started on the soundproofing until dusk.  Glad I had that headlight!  The installation went pretty well, even doing it all by myself.  The Minwool also cuts very easily with a sharp bread knife, the 10" kind that you keep with your butcher knife and steak knives.  Luckily, a couple weeks earlier when the house was first framed, I had taken measurements so I already knew exactly how much insulation I'd need, and in what sizes.  The 16" went up much easier than the 24".  The 24" was just too floppy.  That's where I was very glad I had the staple gun.  In fact, it wouldn't have stayed up without it.  But regardless, I persevered, and got both rooms done in about 4 hours.

So what did I learn from this?  First of all, that putting up insulation is hard work!  I only did it for a few hours, but it kicked my ass!  I was so tired, hot and itchy once I was done...and of course I had to just go home, take a shower, and go to work all night.  Not fun.  Okay, I also learned that I should have ordered the Roxul about a month in advance just to make sure I had it.  The IIG Minwool is about 15-25% cheaper than Roxul, but I think if I could do it over, I'd probably still try to get the Roxul, just because it looked a little more rigid in the video I saw online, and that means it would probably be easier to install the 24" batts than the Minwool was.  Here's a few pics I took during my stealth mission...I didn't take more because they didn't come out very well due to the low light.

Okay, so that's it for now...if anyone has any more specific questions about this, hit me up.  And stay classy.


  1. Hi! Thanks for sharing this! I'm building a Verona too! Your siding color looks great. I'm planning on putting in roxul this week. I haven't ordered it, but I saw some on the shelf at homedepot last week. I'm praying they still have it! Quick question. .... Where did you use the 24"? All of my walls between the rooms are 16". Did you do the ceiling too or something? Please advise me!

  2. I hope they have it in stock still...when I called Home Depot for mine, they said the closest store to my location that had it in stock was in Kansas! Anyway, if you have time, you can always order it--I just waited too long, which was why I went with the other brand stuff. But to answer your question, in my house some of the studs are 16" apart, and some are 24" apart. Most of the wall between the play room and master bedroom were 16" studs, and most of the wall between the living room and office were 24" studs. I didn't do the ceilings. Hope this helps!

    1. Thank you for the advice! I bought 4 packs of 16". Lowes had a bunch in stock! I got lucky. My PM is going to put it in for me. Nice huh? We are only planning to insulate the master/FROG and the second bathroom and the bedroom it shares a wall with. All of our rooms are full of kids and I don't want them up every time someone goes to the bathroom. Thanks again!

    2. May I also recommend doing the family room wall that has the staircase behind it? The main drain for the master bath runs through there and it is quite loud in the family room when someone flushes that toilet. The same goes for the drain for the laundry and secondary bath drains that are near the powder room/living room.

    3. Yeah I wish I would've had enough left over to do that area. I actually looked at doing that pipe in the wall under the stairs, but couldn't make it work with the remaining scraps of insulation I had left. And at that point it was close to midnight so I couldn't get more. Oh well...Hopefully it won't be too annoying to hear the pipes every time someone flushes a toilet!

    4. Queenj, I am very surprised that your PM agreed to do that for you! I hope you give that guy perfect marks on the customer satisfaction survey, because I haven't seen one other person on these blogs whose PM actually did it for them. Most of them seem to have the attitude of "I don't wanna know what you do when we're not here, but if some insulation magically appears over night, we won't rip it out.." Some people haven't even been that lucky, and their PM flat out told them no. So I have to say that you are very lucky to have such a good PM.