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Location: Chicago-land area

Situation:

  • Finished basement about 1500 sq ft
  • Basement has a bathroom, washer/dryer, HVAC system, and water heater, and has heating registers down there to stabilize temp
  • Walls are insulated
  • Ceiling height is low, about 6.5 feet total, with steel support beams and a few heating ducts not recessed into the ceiling at places making the height only ~6 feet

Where I need help:

  • I want to insulate the basement ceiling to help keep the upper floor a bit warmer and provide some sound insulation - right now it's literally hardwood floor, then the subfloor, and then the basement. You can hear damn near everything that goes on down there
  • I'd like to do fiberglass batt insulation because to me it's the best bang for the buck and I figured additional insulation in our house will not hurt (especially with Chicago winters)

I need advice on how to do this the "right" way with the following wants in mind:

  • I don't want to put up drywall - it's expensive, would take forever, and the ceiling is already low enough (I could be convinced otherwise here at a future date, but lets assume no drywall for now)
  • I don't want exposed fiberglass insulation in a basement where there's carpet, a couch, I work out, my kid plays, and we have a guest room where people sleep (I know that backing should go towards the floor in a basement ceiling!)
  • I've seen 6mil sheeting as a suggestion stapled to the ceiling beams, but I also read the counter that if that catches fire it would rain hot molten plastic down on anyone down there (seems bad)
  • I've seen people say Tyvek house wrap, but as far as I can tell that's not for internal use (unless I'm looking at the wrong kind?)

Any advice/guidance would be appreciated here. I want to DIY this but I also want to do it the right way. I'd feel icky putting backed insulation on my ceiling the wrong way just because it would make things easier at the risk of mold under my floors.

2 Answers 2

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"I've seen 6mil sheeting as a suggestion stapled to the ceiling beams, but I also read the counter that if that catches fire it would rain hot molten plastic down on anyone down there (seems bad)"

And that is a problem because?

I have seen countless houses use plastic to keep fiberglass insulation out of the way. Yet to see your fear be a problem.

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Fiber glass batting with a paper backing. You can staple it and it prevents the fiberglass from making a mess. Works really well. I would use it.

Unlike plastic it acts as a vapor retarder. Not a vapor barrier. Direction doesn't really matter when used between 2 insulated rooms.

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  • I think this is the piece I was missing - "direction doesn't matter when used between 2 insulated rooms" - I didn't realize doing all that research that people insulating their basement ceilings were usually insulating their main floors from their completely unfinished, cinder blocked basement. Thanks for your advice! Commented Mar 18 at 16:28
  • That being said... It is a problem if your basement is really cold. I am assuming that a finished basement means that it is kept at a similar temperature to the rest of your house... If that is not the case and your basement isn't then, it could be a problem.
    – Questor
    Commented Mar 18 at 16:49

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