Well, found another big project to stress me out...

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.
Not open for further replies.


Minister of Fire
Hearth Supporter
Hi all,
Hope your summer was enjoyable. Mine was till now.

I posted this on GBA also, but looking for ideas and opinions. Please no heated debates, just want to find my best solution.

My situation is this: The previous owner of my home expanded a hunting cabin in a fairly good size home (2,666 sf.) up and out. He use pre-engineered scissor trusses at 2' centers for the roof/ceiling framing. The entire second story is cathedral ceiling with 1" x 8" T&G pine, no drywall or any other type of air barrier, just the T&G nailed to the bottom of the bottom truss chords. There is a R30 F/G paper backed batt insulation installed on top of the T&G, whether it was fastened correctly to the bottom of the cords, or laid in on top, I do not know.
I live in NE PA, zone 5 I believe, although last winter felt like Zone 6.

While I was able to poke my head up through a small access area in a small closet, I was not able to actually get up in the space above. The batt over the access area was not fastened in any way, as I was able to push it up to peek my head up and also take a few photos. While there may be about 3- to 3-1/2 foot of space near the top of the trusses, that diminishes steadily as you get down to the soffit area. I can confirm no moisture issues or mold growth, which is the only plus I have found so far. The soffit and ridge venting is working well, and baffles were installed down at the soffit end of the trusses.

There is no other access to this space. There are also 2' x 4' skylights with standard shafts to the ceiling that are covered in vertical T&G also. As far as insulation on those, I can't get a good look at this time, but given the rest of the building practices in this place, I doubt anything worthwhile was done insulation & air sealing wise on the skylights.

Obviously a ton of air & heat is cruising up through the gaps in the T&G and venting out to the wild blue yonder, along with some stack effect I am sure.

I was a roofer for years, and have done all work on the house myself, mostly by myself.
I feel I am very capable of doing the work, but need opinions on the easiest, most economical way to remedy this problem. My main concern at the moment is air sealing the ceiling area. I know I need more insulation, and will most likely have to make some access and blow cellulose in on top of the batts. at some point, but my main goal right now is air barrier to stop the flow.

My thoughts thus far:
1st off, the 3 skylights...I want to get rid of, cover the bottom of the shafts, and remove the actual skylights whenever I get to reroofing. The only other penetration in the ceiling is a ceiling fan box, which I will seal as best as I can with caulk or other materials if you know of a better seal?
While I like the look of the skylights, they don't bring that much light and are a big heat loss which far outweighs the aesthetics.

1. Easiest
Install 1/2" Ultra light or similar drywall to the existing T&G(bottom side), mud & tape all seams and perimeters & install new T&G under the new drywall. I could rent or purchase a drywall lift and do 75% of the drywall with not much hassle. The area over the lower living room is open all the way up, 16' x 16' area, 22' from living room floor to peak of cathedral ceiling. This will be a pain, but if needed, I will buy, rent, borrow scaffolding to get up there, maybe I can get the drywall lift set on a platform to aide in setting the drywall in place, then screw it up. Still not easy getting the drywall up to the lift at that height. I may be able to bribe a friend into helping me instead for this area. My other option is to hire a drywall contractor to do this area, or the entire ceiling.
I know the lift and scaffolding add extra cost, But there are other areas around the house I could use them i the future. Getting all the drywall in the house and upstairs will be grueling, but can be done. Wondering if I go this route, do I need to paint the drywall with a vapor retardant primer?
My other concern is how to fasten the new T&G through the drywall, old T&G and into the truss. This would take a heck of a long fastener, and not sure they make a 15 or 16 gauge pneumatic fastener long enough, including the angle of the fastener through everything?(Blind nailed through the tongue).

2. Not as easy, but still done from underside.
Remove the existing T&G, who knows if insulation, mouse scat, and lord knows what else starts falling down into the house as the T&G is being removed. Had a mouse nest just above the access boards and was not fun taking a mouse scat shower. Probable to crack & break much of the T&G trying to remove it. Haven't found any mouse problems since sealling some other areas around the house left open by the PO.
Install 1/2" light weight drywall, mud & tape seams & perimeter, attempt to reinstall the T&G under the drywall. Note, The T&G is stained dark with a subpar stain & seal all in one product. I am partial to natural wood sealed with clear. Due to cost savings, I would entertain the fact of removing & reusing the existing T&G, but am still considering scrapping that, and installing new natural finish T&G.
The one issue I will have with removing the existing T&G, is the ceiling was put up, prior to dividing walls on the one side of the upper level. The T&G is now sandwiched between the divider walls & the truss bottom cords. Would have to find a good way to cut the T&G as flush to the walls as I can.

3. Hire a foam contractor to spray closed cell on top of the ceiling from the attic side. Or possibly do it myself, although I would rather not tackle that one myself. I would most likely have to remove some roofing &/or siding & sheathing to allow for access to the attic area, and would still be very tough to get around in there. Getting down near the eaves would be especially tight, concerns of quality of install and amount of coverage another huge issue. Expense a huge issue, and although I read some good things about foam, just not sure this is the right circumstance for it.
Not looking to redo the roof, so can't combine the two.

I am leaning towards option 1, but I have weight load concerns on the trusses. Although I have read standard load rating is 10 psf. I think even with added blown in cellulose in the future I should be okay? And how do I fasten the last layer of T&G securely without face nailing to keep it looking good yet secure?

I apologize for the long winded post, I have been stressing this pretty heavily since I discovered the issue, and although not as panicked as when I first found it, still weighs on my mind heavily.
I want to address this issue, not rush, but research and come up with a best plan of attack.
I have been heating with wood which costs about $350.00 a year, but still would like to keep the heat, in the house, and struggle less doing so, especially on very cold nights in the dead of winter.

I would greatly appreciate some opinions & advice from those that know more about this than myself. Feeling a bit overwhelmed. Note that I did not choose the colors of the walls, I plan on covering them in T&G or log siding when time & cash flow become available. I will also be removing the T&G on the gable ends and installing sheetrock there also, and address any insulation issues I find. Some photos attached.



  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    18.4 KB · Views: 297
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    16.5 KB · Views: 296
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    22.3 KB · Views: 289
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    22.5 KB · Views: 316
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    19.9 KB · Views: 305
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    23.4 KB · Views: 294
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    22 KB · Views: 290
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    20.7 KB · Views: 306
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    21.5 KB · Views: 312
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    14.1 KB · Views: 278
Additional photos...


  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    19.8 KB · Views: 248
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    15.3 KB · Views: 256
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    14.3 KB · Views: 222
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    14.9 KB · Views: 230
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    15.9 KB · Views: 240
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    13.2 KB · Views: 236
  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    13 KB · Views: 256
What's the "issue"? You've got R-30, that's good. The paper face on the insulation acts as a vapor barrier (if installed properly), no mold or moisture issues says that excess inside air isn't getting into the cold space and condensing, this is good as well. Unless I'm missing something you already have what a lot of people strive for.

Why sheet rock and not just a poly vapor barrier?

If you do out up rock over the boards, new boards nailed with 2.5" finish nails through the rock into the old pine would hold just fine, for added peace of mind some construction adhesive in conjunction with the nails would add some extra holding power.

If the attic area is venting and breathing well now I would be cautious about adding any insulation up there that may interfere with soffit / proper vents if there are any.
I want to air seal to keep the heated air from the home from easily migrating into the attic. Yes, the ventilation is doing it's job, but losing the heated air to the attic is still an issue, along with the stack effect it also creates.
Kraft paper is not truly a vapor barrier, and given how the PO built this place, I am sure nothing was done well or tight. Every project turns into 5 more due to his "handywork". Poly while some have used it, will be like swiss cheese by the time it is tacked up and the new T&G was nailed through it. And Poly truly is for Zone 7 and higher, think Northern border of UA & Cananda and north. I actually want some vapor to passively pass through the drywall,paint would retard it some and that is fine enough, but have the drywall as an actual air barrier, to stop the migration of air.
I was thinking with the original T&G anchored well, as well as the drywall being screwed up well and also anchoring the old T&G, I could depend on the new tongue and groove nails to hold into the old tongue and groove even if is spans through the drywall. Seems you agree on that. Just don't want the new T&G falling down later on. I guess the original layer of T&G would be not different than ceiling planks in older homes. I think it should hold okay.

As far as venting. There is baffles, and in this area, R30 is not near enough, again losing heat up and out. I want to blown in enough cellulose to get to around R60. I can always add another row of baffles to assure soffit area does not get plugged up. Id rather go a little overkill where affordable and possible, then just settle. The insulation would be added at another time in the future. I am almost positive I'll notice a difference by air sealing the ceiling alone.
Last edited:
Personally, I am a fan of spray foam......

I think if you go R60 you're going overkill. I have R50 and my neighbor is Santa and we're fine. The gain between R50 and R60 is not worth the cost.....IMHO only :)
I can see why you're concerned but wonder if its as big a problem as you might think.
You said you've done a lot of work on the house. Is the rest of the place relative airtight? Have you had a blower door test done by chance?
I ask because I'm thinking the stack effect won't cause much heat loss at the T&G ceiling if air is not leaking in on the lower levels.
Maybe the insulation was installed well and the kraft paper is doing a good job as air barrier?
You could also check for leakage at the T&G by filling the house with smoke, pressurizing it with a fan in a window or door, and looking for smoke exiting at the soffit and ridge vents. Some use a fog machine for producing the smoke.

BTW, your story if a familiar one to me. I'd like to have at least one project go well without finding some other issue that kicks in all the "might as wells".
  • Like
Reactions: bobdog2o02
As a long time roofer and carpenter and every thing in between I think you know what you need to do first. Get rid of those sky lights. Insulation wise what I have done in the past on similar homes was to put R-board between the T&G and the rafters and then create an air space between the R-board and the insulation on top of the rafters. Clear as mud right? But you want the house to have some breathing room.
  • Like
Reactions: bobdog2o02
If you're trying to seal the place up a little, I'd be inclined to go with poly directly over (under) the existing T&G. Use good sealer along the nailing strips and then nail up new T&G if that's what you want as the finished ceiling. As for the skylights, I think they look good - I'd keep them and make sure you have them well caulked and look at replacing the glass with something better insulated (low e double or triple pane). Part of the reason you think they're not doing much now is the current T&G is quite dark (at least in the pictures). If it was me, I'd go with a much lighter stain/finish as it will brighten up the whole house.
Last thing - blow in cellulose up to R50 - that will save money in the long run. We had R20-ish in our house and one of the first things I did was bring it up to R50 - night and day difference.
As you do all this, make sure you caulk all the windows well, and seal up any other penetrations. Take a look at your exterior wall outlet/switch boxes - make sure they are sealed up. Make sure any bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans close properly when not in use. Lots of little things, but it doesn't take much for cold air to get in a spoil your nice warm home.
Caulk between the T&G? Nothing really airseals like spray foam though.

Before doing anything I would get up there somehow and pull up some of the fiberglass that is against the T&G to look for the telltale black/dirty marks caused by airflow to determine just how much leakage gets through the T&G.
Just a couple of thoughts...
If drywall is going to be used as an air barrier, why not use 1/4 or 3/8" rock instead of the 1/2". If you are gonna leave the original T&G you have all sorts of area to screw the thinner rock down to secure it. Less weight, less thickness (for nailing purposes), Still does the same job.

Why rock and not a fan-fold style insulation like that used when siding a home?
Spray foam is the best air seal.
I am either going with 3/8" drywall, or most likely foil faced 2" Polyiso board fastened to the bottom of the old T&G . Lath under the iso and new natural finished T&G.
This was would give me an additional R13 to add to the insulation factor. Found some 2" foil faced iso at a local surplus building supply house for $22.00 per sheet. Much cheaper than bog box store $31.00+ pricing.
3/8" drywall would certainly be cheapest, but no R factor either. Not rushing into nothing, I am a researcher and planner by nature.
If I had the money I would go spray foam, but due to lack of real access and cost of foam, that ain't happening.
Thanks guys for the input, I do appreciate my burning brothers.
Good call. That was my first thought when I read the thread. Why not rigid insulation with taped seams over the old T&G. Then furring strips and new T&G. With that and what you already have you should be good to go. I would dump the skylights. Keep us posted.
Good call. That was my first thought when I read the thread. Why not rigid insulation with taped seams over the old T&G. Then furring strips and new T&G. With that and what you already have you should be good to go. I would dump the skylights. Keep us posted.

Gonna be going with the rigid foam faced iso board, 2". Just debating going over the old T&G or tearing that off first.
Furring strips, then new T&G. Getting new T&G either way.
The lil woman likes the skylights, I like them, but feel they are not worth a damn as far as the heat loss they create vs the aesthetics.
Plus added insulation to, and air sealing of those will cost more also. And the lil woman also likes the dark T&G.
I want natural finish with the knots showing and satin clear coat. I love that look.
Told her I am making an executive decision. :cool:

Not sure I will tackle this till next spring, kinda have to wait for tax return check to buy what I need.
Unless, I just can't wait any longer. Crap like this just sits and festers in the back of my mind.
The dark ceiling appears to be sucking the light out of the room. I'm wondering if you could recover that T&G wood by carefully pulling it down, cleaning out all nails and running it through a planer if need be or just flipping it over to the unfinished side? If it is dark due to aging, maybe consider a lightening stain?
It is dark due to the stain the PO used when he installed it.
I have been considering maybe stripping the stain off, which would be a lot of work, and if I can't get it off the tongue decent enough, even worse.
The back side is going to be beaded, and I just don't like that look. Still weighting pulling it down, or going over it.
Some nice natural finished matched end would really look nice. I am going to do log siding on the walls at some point, so may pull down and reinstall leaving as dark, to contract natural finish log siding.
So many things to yet do with this house. But I am gearing my focus on the ceiling for now. Even if I get the insulation board up and taped and sealed, the rest I could do later on. Main goal, board & seal.
The problem with a planer, which I don't have, would be the stain & poly coating gumming up the planner blade. Good thing I am in no rush, and will carefully plan what I want to do.
Keep the skylights, just stuff them with insulation. That way you'll be a peace of mind and the little lady gets to keep the her skylights. However, something tells me she won't be pleased with the new look.

Keep us posted.

Keep the skylights, just stuff them with insulation. That way you'll be a peace of mind and the little lady gets to keep the her skylights. However, something tells me she won't be pleased with the new look.

Keep us posted.

Interesting thought though. What if you were to stuff them with bubble wrap?
I may try that on one of ours to see what it looks like.
Everything I have read on bubble wrap is that it is a sham.
Might be okay for a reflective barrier.
I started in the smallest bedroom. Got the ceiling planks down, and the upper side wall planks off.
Ton of mouse crap and a few old nests. Nothing had a strong smell, so I am hoping they are old nests.
Tore the F/G batts out of the upper wall cavities, and installed Roxul. I have to fix the PO's insulation fastening, as he went to the inside sides of the truss chords with the staple flanges, and I can see a ton of air was traveling through those "tunnels".
After I fix the insulation flanges to the bottom of the truss chords, I'll start installing the 2" polyiso.
Looks like I will be able to reuse the T&G I pulled down. Want new, but gotta budget.


  • Well, found another big project to stress me out...
    30.3 KB · Views: 233
Everything I have read on bubble wrap is that it is a sham
I think you're referring to the Reflectix product and I would tend to agree (at least the claims of its effectiveness are way exaggerated).
I was just talking about taking standard transparent bubble wrap and stuffing multiple layers of it in the skylights to fill the air cavity with something that traps air but lets light through.
Might work. I was also thinking of another layer of glass/plexiglass on the bottom of the skylight shaft.
I think I will just encase the shafts from top to bottom all 4 sides in polyiso board. 3 layers of 2" would be R39. Maybe even 4 layers.That should help. Sealing everything properly of course.
Might work. I was also thinking of another layer of glass/plexiglass on the bottom of the skylight shaft.
I've considered this also. We have 4 skylights in our main room above the wood stove. It irks me to think of the heat lost there.
Me too, they are by far the biggest funnel for heat out to the great wide open.
I might still get rid on mine, not sure yet.
I'm just going to stir the pot a bit....

I get it, you got 'nominal R-30', and a 1960s tech Kraft 'vapor barrier', but you do NOT have an effective **air barrier** so you may be losing a ton of conditioned air and BTUs. This means it may be a major source of heat loss for the whole structure, and defeating the R-30 almost completely. Airsealed R-30 might be enough insulation, non-airsealed R-30 never is. Loss of air is a comfort issue, dry air in winter, drives AC bills higher by latent load, degrades IAQ/allergens, and can lead to roof sheathing rot (the last is ruled out).

The skylight chimneys are **dark**. :rolleyes: And the ceiling finish is dark :rolleyes: Doesn't really make for a nice space or decent daylighting.

Your plans make sense, but seem like a huge PITA. I suggest the following...

For a few hundred, get a blower door test done, with the stipulation that you want them try to estimate the leakage in that room (by closing doors or taping over opening and putting the blower door in there), as well as the whole house. Sometimes we tell ourselves stories (that ceiling is a sieve) but data is better. If the PO did staple the Kraft paper....it might not be a major source of air leakage compared to the rest of the house. get a blower job an find out. What if the air leakage through the T&G is ~10% of you whole house air leakage? Do you still care? Can you get a >10% air leakage reduction somewhere else for a lot less effort?? If the room is cold now...call it a balance issue, adjust your HVAC and fix it that way.

I think the 'dark' color is the problem. IF the air leakage is NOT a problem that needs to be solved, paint the existing T&G satin white next weekend and call 'er done. IF the new look doesn't grow on you in 12 mos, then execute your plans. I think the dark ceiling draws attention. A white ceiling never does, and the joints of the boards in the white ceiling will make an elegant effect. If you hate it, you're out a half gal of paint.

Re the skylights. If they don't leak water, I would keep 'em. I really do not like the chimneys. I say you get your aggressions out by ripping out the chimneys, and replacing them with nicely insulated drywall chimneys, to be painted bright white. For extra credit....Flare them a little towards the inside, at least in the horizontal direction. With these changes you will get a LOT more light and maybe skyview, and not lose more heat. Still a MUCH smaller job that ripping out the whole ceiling.

Ok, now what if the T&G IS a sieve....what other options you got? You could go for thin drywall and mud it. That would be a great air barrier. After you nail a bunch of T&G up to it, will it still be an air barrier? If you don't want the T&G look (if it was me), I would be tempted to just drywall the area, paint it white and stop there.

Assuming you do want T&G, I would be tempted to just staple up a vapor permeable membrane like tyvek and tape all the seams and staples with tyvek tape. Then do new **light finish** T&G under. Not that much work with a nailer I suppose. At your snow loads, I doubt the weight per sq ft will make a difference (assuming it is code compliant now for snow loads).

In summary:
So, fix the damn skylight chimneys, rather than ditching them. Get better topside glass when you redo the roof for an energy upgrade.

For the T&G, if DATA says they leak, then taped tyvek and new T&G under. if it doesn't leak (much) air then paint the suckers, and live with it for a year and see if you still care.

When you have settled the airsealing issue (one way or another), call a cellulose company to blow over the 'R-30' chit to bring it up to R-50+. They will send a little guy up there...his nickname will be 'Weasel'...its too small for you.
Last edited:
On reflection, I realized the T&G ceiling is much of the structure. For blower door test, you tape up v thin an cheap poly dropcloths over the whole ceiling, get a blower door read. Then pull down the poly and get a second read.

On the skylights, I realized they are prob stuck between trusses you won't be cutting. I would still make the chimney interior **white** and maybe flare it up and down, if you were game for a project.
Not open for further replies.