OK, the truth is that it’s been a slow 6 months, because it’s been about that long since Ginger was born. We haven’t had time to attempt even the simplest of projects, hence the post of a pug with a candy cane. Cute, yes, but what does that have to do with remodeling? Nothing, so that’s why I had to put a catchy title on this only marginally more interesting post. I just don’t want to look back months from now and realize that we haven’t had a real entry since November.
Well, a couple of weeks ago we were trying to get our temporary guest room ready for some guests. And by “guest room,” I mean let’s pull a mattress out the the basement and thrown it on the floor in Chloe’s old, empty room. But it is a big step up from the basement, to which our cat, Luna, claims full ownership.
Anyway, back to the room. For as long as we’ve lived here, the back bedroom has been the coldest room in the house. It’s not just a little bit cooler – it has always been at least 10 degrees more frigid in the winter and has the added bonus of being the only room in the house that gets a blast of late afternoon sun in the summer. Our neighbor’s house is taller and spares the rest of ours from the sun’s rays, but this poor room sticks out just far enough to get superheated. The problem, of course, is that the room has no insulation. This is something that we plan to remedy, but it’s standing in line with so many other projects that are competing for our time and money.
I shouldn’t admit this on the internet, where anyone can read and laugh at my lack of insight, but it never occurred to me before a few weeks ago that we could at least do something to improve the situation right away. A side note…I often let projects grow very large in my head, because I hate wasting effort, and I want everything done the “right” way. I would rather let something sit and sit as-is until I can get to it, since I don’t want to spend any time doing a temporary job that I’ll later have to redo. That had been my MO for this room for the last 3 years, so I never really sat back and wondered if anything could be done in the meantime. So that brings me to the topic of our window trim. I had removed all of it back in 2005, so that we could get it dipped and stripped. Two weeks later I picked up the trim, so if you’re paying attention, that means that it’s been sitting around for 34 months, patiently waiting to be lovingly refinished and reinstalled. Many, many times, we’ve commented “damn it’s cold in here,” and Stephanie has even asked “do you think it’d be warmer if we put the trim back up.” I always responded with a dozen reasons why it couldn’t be done now, since I wasn’t even sure if we should leave the walls or tear down the old plaster (it’s in bad shape, with lots of layers of paper over it), and we still haven’t decided if we’re just painting over the paint or stripping everything else down and going with stain. And again, the insulation issue…would we do it from the inside, the outside or just have some blown in? Too many decisions to make to actually commit to reinstalling the trim. So, fast forward to 3 weeks ago, and I’m staring at the empty cavities around the window, and I finally wonder what’s stopping me from spraying in some low-expansion foam. During all that time, I never gave it any thought, but once I did, I realized that spraying it right away would not interfere with anything down the road. Duh!
Four cans of foam later, the difference in room temperature was astounding. While it’s still colder than the other rooms due to its distance from the furnace, it’s temperature must have gone up at least 5 or 6 degrees. I know that to be true, because we don’t have to wear jackets and hats to walk into the room anymore. And, of course, the lack of draftiness makes it feel much more comfortable. So, $26 and 5 minutes of time saved us a whole bunch of natural gas. My belief is that because the foam stopped the draft issue in the room, it was just as or even more important than the wall insulation. We still look forward to getting that done, but in the meantime we’ve stopped a major source of heat loss in our house. I’m still kicking myself for the nights that we’d run a space heater just to make it tolerable for Chloe on the colder nights. And to think of all the countless hours spent painstakingly insulating every little nook and cranny of the upstairs, while every little gust of wind could blow its way through our exterior trim. Well, at least it’s done now…
9/6/2008 edit: this room is now on its way to being repurposed as our family/guest room.