It is freezing in my basement so I decided to re-insulate my daughter's bedroom. I removed the old paneling walls to find that it wasn't insulated! There was a water barrier and a heat shield. My problem now is winter is almost here and the framing is 1x1's. I don't have the money to redo the framing. Do I use rigid foam board cut to size to fit the holes and spray insulation around that and cover with water barrier? Can I just spray insulation all over and cover with dry wall?

Please tell me there is something I can do, without having to take down the frame. I am taking about the outer wall and I live in Quebec Canada so it gets pretty cold.

  • 1
    Waht is the spacing between the centers of the framing?
    – bib
    Oct 1, 2012 at 12:55

5 Answers 5


There is a rigid polyisocyanurate foam core insulation, often sold under the brand name Super Tuff from Dow that has a higher R value than XPS. It is R-13 in 2 inch panels and is higher if you trap a small air barrier behind it (around R-15).

super tuff

The foam has a foil vapor barrier on the back.

You could

  • mount this on the existing furring foil side out, using glue and screws
  • seal the edges with foil tape
  • reinstall paneling with glue and screws throught the foam, into the existing furring.

HOWEVER: The paneling could hold itself up when mounted this way, and you could mount lighweight things, such as pictures. The walls would NOT be suitable for mounting shelves, fixtures, heavy mirrors, etc. You would need to take care and inform any subsequent owner that the walls were not intended for bearing any signifciant weight!

  • If I wanted to put shelves or something heavy...could I use long screws and just go right it to the wood frame? Oct 1, 2012 at 15:46
  • 1
    The foil acts as a vapor barrier, however. I'm not a fan of vapor barriers in basements. (Though they aren't uncommon)
    – DA01
    Oct 1, 2012 at 22:04
  • @DawnCampbell You might be able to. 1x1 is not very sturdy to begin with. The foam is pretty rigid and would not compress easily if it were faced with paneling. If the shelving were not too heavy and not loaded with stuff, it might work. I would not put it over a bed or something precious (like children).
    – bib
    Oct 1, 2012 at 22:51

One inch isn't much space for insulation, but you can get thin fiberglass insulation, which is how I'd go although foam is much easier to use. It'll help certainly.

To be sure the right way to do this is to re-do the frame and hang fiberglass insulation, but then again you know that. If you can't re-do the framing you could put an extra layer of rigid foam insulation on the outside of the frame as a temporary measure. It wouldn't take any weight, and you probably couldn't put outlets through it, but you could put a layer of drywall over it and pretty it up some. The thing is that costs money too.

Really there's no way to insulate that wall effectively without spending money on something, so why not spend it on doing it right?

  • I completely agree with you but I don't think I could remove the frame and I don;t have the tools to build a new one. I already purchased the drywall, rigid insulation and the spray before taking down what was there thinking there would be a 2x4 frame Oct 1, 2012 at 15:50
  • 1" of fiberglass isn't going to do much.
    – DA01
    Oct 1, 2012 at 22:06
  • Yeah, better than nothing, but not much.
    – GdD
    Oct 2, 2012 at 7:30

Sounds like you've committed yourself to XPS foam and gyp board regardless of other ideas offered here. Unfortunately, 1x1s are structurally worthless. No only can you not use them to support shelving and such, it's really not even adequate to support gyp board. You really should consider larger furring strips to give you more insulation and adequate support for wall finish.

If that is simply impossible, the best you can do is rely on glue to hold everything up. Glue the XPS well to the wall, then glue the gyp board to the XPS. Screw the gyp board to the 1x1s to hold things up until the glue sets, and pray the screws hold that long. Only use glue specifically noted for use with foam insulation, other glues can melt it!

Cut the XPS to fit snugly between the 1x1s, minimizing the spray foam needed. While using the spray foam behind the 1x1s sounds like a good idea for more insulation, the gain is minimal and there is a real chance the foam will expand enough to push the 1x1s off the wall, or at least cause them to bow out.

Assuming this all stays up, R5 will be way better than the R0.05 (wild guess) it is currently. Worth doing, even if it could have been done better. Many of us are in hard times, I understand the need to cut corners. But not installing adequate support may be cutting too much. Good luck.


A 1x1 isn't really considered framing. It's merely a furring strip. It can be used, but as you have found out, in a cold climate, it's rather silly.

Here's how I prefer to frame and insulate basement walls:

Should I use steel or wood studs for basement exterior walls?

The research comes from Building Sciences Corporation which has focused on cold climate basement insulation.

The bullet point highlights:

  • use foam board for insulation (XPS or EPS)
  • use metal studs
  • use paperless wallboard (such as densarmor)
  • do not use any vapor barrier

The arguments are that the foam acts as a moisture retarder, but not blocker. As such, that combined with NOT using a moisture barrier allows moisture on either side to eventually dry to the other.

Alas, that means you need to redo your basement, which is sounds like isn't an option at this time. You could go ahead and wedge in 1" XP foam boards and then re-sheetrock. In fact, I think that's about the only practical solution you have at this time. It'll help a bit. But it takes a lot of work to pull down sheetrock, add insulation, re-sheetrock, mud and paint. If you're going through all that work, you might as well take the little bit of extra time and money and reframe the walls properly, IMHO.


1" XPS rigid foam is only going to give you R5 (if that seeing how it will only be between studs and not along the entire wall) which will be better than nothing, but no where near the amount of insulation you should have for your climate (I'm in Toronto, ON and insulating my basement with 1.5" XPS and R14 Fiberglass giving me ~R21.5). If the foam was applied against the wall and all the seams taped it would form a vapor barrier, but installed only in-between the studs it will not so you still need a barrier on top of the studs.

Closed-cell spray in foam would probably give you the best R value but it is expensive compared to foam or fiberglass.

  • I already purchased the gyp, R5 insulation and a couple cans of spray insulation...before taking the wall down, thinking the frame would be as it should (2x4). I don't think I can take the frame down myself and do not have the tools to build a new one... I think I should add, there are shims behind the frame so I can spray behind it. Oct 1, 2012 at 15:42
  • 1
    Lumper is cheap - uf you can reframe it using 2x4's 16" OC then you can at least add fiberglass batts between the studs to give you a decent R value
    – Steven
    Oct 1, 2012 at 21:50

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