We have a 3/4 upper floor room that is in desperate need of a complete overhaul.

The current ceiling consists of 2x4 ceiling rafters with a foam vent and perhaps 2.5" of foam insulation, then the drywall. Needless to say, in the summer it can get unbearably hot without AC and in the winter, cold (though given our snow here in MN, winter cold is less of an issue than the summer heat).

I'm ripping out carpet and fixture and everything for a remodel and figured now is the time to try and help with the insulation a bit. As always, I'm trying to do it on a budget as well. ;)

My thoughts/questions:

1) tear down the drywall, apply more foam insulation on the under-side, then re-finish. I actually stumbled upon a tutorial of exactly that:


Thoughts about that? Any pros/cons I may be missing?

If I do go that route, I'd like to minimize the space I eat up, but still provide insulation of value. Would 3/4" suffice? I was going to go with XPS. Should I also get foil faced boards? If so, which way would they face? (I'm thinking 'up' to reflect summer heat).

2) I dread hauling sheetrock back up into this space. It's big, heavy, and we have an extremely narrow stair case (not to mention our house is 12 steps above the sidewalk). When I finished our basement, I used synthetic boards for all my trim. This is the PVC foam boards that are pre-finished. They are easy to cut and extremely light. Plus, they are prefinished.

An added bonus for the basement is that they are moisture proof (the main reason I chose them. An added bonus for the attic (I think) is that (in theory) they'd provide another layer of insulation. Is that a valid theory?

Either way, anyone aware of some nice(ish) looking tounge and groove synthetic ceiling boards? I found one that was a fake cypress wood finish. I'd really prefer white. Whether is has a woodgrain texture or not is less of an issue.

UPDATE (couple more questions...)

3) Even if I find the foam-board paneling, it may be quite expensive. I'm also thinking about using pine planks (the T&G boards with a v-groove down the center to make it appear as two boards). That'd be cheaper. Anyone use that before? Pros/cons? How well would it take paint?

  • You don't have AC in the house?
    – DMoore
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 4:43
  • @DMoore this post is now a bit dated. We left the house in MN and headed to the coast for cooler summers. :) At the time, though, we had window units. The one upstairs had to run constantly to keep the upstairs comfortable. Had we stayed, we were hoping to beef up the insulation a bit in hopes of reducing the need for constant AC.
    – DA01
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 5:10

1 Answer 1


The most important thing to know is you still need air movement in the cold space. So air moving from soffets into air vents etc. This will stop mold. Then because of the overwhelming exposure, you will need lots of insulation. Check your local building codes. Where I'm from, it's something like R-28 with vapor barrier, and then whatever type of drywall.

Secondly, if you're making this a habitable zone, you need to have a way to heat/cool this space as it's now part of your dwelling.

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