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I'm remodeling a 60s cabin home with vertical and horizontal wood board siding.

While I have the walls exposed, I wonder about possible improvements I should consider while I have access to the open walls. For reference, the walls are standard 2x4, 16" apart. Fireblocks already exist in the walls.

Here's what I've done (or am doing/will do):

  • Refinish all the siding (it was in rough shape, many had woodpecker holes). I've already refinished the majority of the wood and replaced what wasn't salvageable.
  • Replace old insulation (R-13, not much room for more).
  • Replace the old/brittle weather barrier with Tyvek.
  • Add nail plates over holes in the stud where wires were run.
  • I've found buried junction boxes in the walls. I am figuring out if the runs are actually efficient and making these accessible.

I'm curious if there's anything else I should be thinking about. For example,

  • What if I want easy access to the wire runs later on?
  • Any other structural things I should consider?
  • What about other "convenience" improvements? Access panels, ...?
  • I noticed fireblock foam wasn't in any of the vertical wire holes, or any for that matter (i.e., in the horizontal fireblocks between the studs). I might not be calling it the right thing here. In any case, I don't know if this is required or not (as I can't seem to find it mentioned in the local electrical code).

I'm doing the work myself, but I'm open to hiring help if it makes sense.

Thanks in advance.

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    Does the existing wiring have ground wires? – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Jan 17 at 20:34
  • Neutrals at switch locations for smart switches (might be required). – JACK Jan 17 at 20:49
  • @JACK I'm not entirely sure what neutrals at switch locations mean outside of having a neutral (typically white?) available. I haven't seen any that don't have this. Does that mean it's good to go? Or did I misinterpret the meaning? – Matthew Jan 17 at 22:04
  • @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact Yes, all existing wires have ground wires. – Matthew Jan 17 at 22:05
  • @AlaskaMan what kind of infrastructure? I've run a CAT 6a line for cameras, but those are pretty specific runs. Are there any common upgrades you recommend? I prefer to avoid tech that doesn't yet have a common protocol/format (generally speaking). But otherwise, I'm open to suggestions. It seems like a good idea at face value. – Matthew Jan 17 at 22:08
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Did you removed the drywall on the inside as well or just the exterior walls? If just the exterior consider air sealing around everything with spray foam when you pull the fiberglass insulation. You could consider rigid foam instead of fiberglass since 2x4 walls are not that thick.

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  • The inside walls are thin wood paneling. I have access via exterior right now. I plan to replace the wood paneling with drywall. But, I prefer not to remove both sides of the wall at the same time. It gets cold at night :) – Matthew Jan 17 at 22:00
  • @MatthewHardesty I get that, you'd be living in a shed at that point. But more seriously, when you replace the paneling on the inside of the exterior walls, depending upon how far you want to go, you might consider furring out the 2x4s with 2x2s to make room for more insulation. You'd have to either move the switch and outlet boxes on those walls or get box extensions. I don't have experience with ridged foam insulation, but I would think it would be hard to get an air tight fit in the stud bays, which is what you want, and probably pretty tedious to install. Other opinions? – George Anderson Jan 17 at 22:11
  • @GeorgeAnderson Ha, yeah I'll avoid the shed life if I can. Do the 2x2s typically go on the exterior? I wonder what that would mean for a weep screed at the bottom. I looked into the Zip System sheathing option, but found some contractor reviews that make a good case against using it. I also considered expando foam insulation, but that seems annoying to work with if I (or a future owner) need to fish anything through the walls. For rigid insulation, that has some nice "pros", but a couple folks have said that it's very hard to get air tight unless you spend a ton of time on it. – Matthew Jan 17 at 22:22
  • @Matthew Yeah, glad you found the same thing from pros re rigid insulation. Makes sense. Never worked with it, but the main think about insulation is minimizing air flow and it would be a lot of work to fit each piece into a stud bay snugly. My son is just finished up building a super energy efficient home and he went with spray foam for part of the insulation envelope....I think that's the same as what you called expando foam. It needs to be professionally installed, it's not cheap and makes a mess inside the walls. ...continuing in next comment. .... – George Anderson Jan 17 at 22:29
  • Regarding furring out the walls, I think it would be best to do that on the interior, even if it means moving a few switch boxes and outlet boxes a couple of inches inward or using box extensions. From what you were saying, it sounds like an extensive remodel/repair and you'll be replacing widow wrapping, doors, etc. Not knowing more details, these are only suggestions/ideas. – George Anderson Jan 17 at 22:33
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If you have the walls open, and are a tech-person, you'd be a fool to not put in cat-6 cable.

You could also put your cat-6 in plastic "smurf tube", for any future re-wiring. If you can find it, orange is the preferred color for low-voltage communication wire, though the color isn't all that critical.

I did this when I bought my house 12 years ago, and it's paid off enormously during the pandemic since I don't have to rely on unreliable wi-fi, and get extremely fast connections to my file-server from every room.

If I were planning it, I'd put in several cat-6 cables, since they can of course be used for a lot more than ethernet.

Beyond that, I'm not sure. Some people still like to put in Coax. I'm more of the opinion that technology is dead, and TV is now carried by ethernet.

Much of the rest of it depends on what you want to do with the space, now or in the future.

If you're ever considering putting in a bathroom somewhere along that same area you're tearing out the wall, you could put in waste and water lines, and then just cap them for later use.

If you wanted to put in electric heating, or floor heating or just higher amp outlets (some hobbies require 240 amp service lets say), you might consider putting wiring in for that.

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