Old Insulation

Removing lath from interior walls where there is nothing behind the lath is fun; removing lath from exterior walls with old insulation behind it not so much.  Mastering this job has involved a little bit of trial and error.  Being greeted with a cascading cloud of old, loose, dusty, blown-in fibreglass hasn’t been the best experience of the renovation process!

The first room to be stripped down to the bare studs was the living room and after tearing out the lath, there was quite a mess of plaster, wood, and insulation on the floor. 

removing a wall

The remains of some living room walls on the floor: plaster, lath, and insulation.

After picking out all the pieces of lath, the insulation was swept up and put into garbage bags, along with old loose nails, bits of remaining plaster, etc.  These all went to the landfill.  But then John came up with a better solution.

In all the other rooms, I’ve been salvaging the insulation.  We are still collecting it in garbage bags, but this time we’re keeping it clean and saving it for re-use in outbuildings such as the planned chicken coop. 

collecting old fibreglass insulation for re-use

A bag of salvaged insulation for the chicken coop and another plastic bag at the ready. The insulation in the box was from under a window and had obviously been quite wet at some point, so it has to go in the garbage.

There’s no question the demolition takes longer this way.  I can only pull a few strips of lath off at a time, then I put down my wrecking bar, reach into the gap I’ve created, pull out the insulation, and put it into a clear bag for re-use.  Usually I get several handfuls by reaching in as deep as possible, before it’s back to the wrecking bar to yank off some more lath.  Often there are bits of plaster in the insulation too which have to either be shaken off or picked off before that handful goes into the plastic bag.

Old blown-in fibreglass insulation in between wall studs

Reaching in for the old fibreglass insulation between two studs on an exterior wall.

While we’re saving a lot of insulation for re-use this way (and saving space in our local landfill), it’s impossible to salvage it all.  Near the bottom of the wall, the insulation is so full of bits of broken plaster and other junk that it just has to be swept up and thrown away.

Nor are we saving the wood shavings that serve as insulation in some of the older walls in the house. (This house has many interesting nooks and crannies as it has been added to a number of times over the years.)  Instead we sweep up the shavings and sawdust, put it in old cardboard boxes, and add it to our burning pile.


The exterior wall in the upstairs bedroom of the original house (built in 1908, we believe) was filled with wood shavings.

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One Response to Old Insulation

  1. Pingback: Earth Day: Reusing lath, insulation and stucco | prairiewoods

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