Stick figures of Chloe, Andrew and Henderson with their camper parked in front of Blue Mountain beside the Susquehanna River. Playful Curiosity.

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Interior - Finish work and flood repair
(August, 2012)

The clock was ticking, the work behind schedule, money exhausted, compromises being made (re-use hated old light, get cabinet handles later, etc.) and the worst - the absolute worst - was the unrelenting refrain from the old Europe song pounding in my mellon - It's the final countdooooown.

Interestingly, this was the first time we were actually repairing the damage from the flood. Most of what we've done up to now was to comply with the ICC (Increased Cost of Compliance) requirements.

Packages of Rock Wool Insulation.
Roxul Rock Wool Insulation. R15 for exterior walls, R23 for garage ceiling.

Rock Wool. This was one of the more interesting choices we made. I'm not sure how I stumbled onto it but I ran into rock wool and did some research.

Rock wool is made of slag and volcanic rock. They heat it up to ridiculous temperatures and then whip it like cotton candy. However, instead of it being light and stringy like fiberglass insulation it ends up being thick mats.

What got my attention with rock wool was the sound deadening properties because of the cross fiber (thick mat) and the weight of it (one of those packages weighs 60lbs). Killing sound is important living next to train tracks.

Another thing about the cross fiber business, it is thick and harder to burrow through or build nests in - making it less rodent friendly.

The final and really cool thing is how fire resistant it is. My parents house burnt down in the 90's and I've been a little bit leary of fire since.

For all those benefits it is not much more expensive than fiberglass. It's also much more pleasant to work with (but still itchy if you're really sweating). Oh yeah and it's "green". Rock wool is made from slag - essentially a waste product that would go into landfills.

Check out the video below. If you don't have the patience, here's how it ends. SPOILER ALERT: The fiberglass melts in no time, they get bored and shut off the camera before the Roxul lets flames through.

Roxul vs Fiberglass

We will have two ways into the house - one up the steps onto the deck and another set of steps from the garage. The garage entrance has a "mudroom".

We had some problems fitting the garage staircase in. Because of where it needed to go if we put a door at the top of the steps we would have to partially cover or relocate a window. If we point a door at the bottom of the steps, it would interfere with the exterior door in the garage. Hence the mudroom.

Notice the studs look funny?

Mudroom to stairs.
Mudroom to stairs

In the event of another flood we would roll the garage doors up and let the water in. At $1000 each you can be darn sure I'm rolling those doors out of harms way.

The problem with that is then anyone can walk into the garage. Drywall turns to mush when wet. With normal 16" placement of studs, a thin person could push through the mushy drywall, squeeze through the studs and have access to my house.

My solution was to have Ren do studs 8" on. Someone determined could still get through with a sawzall but the basic mischief maker and opportunist would be thwarted. If you think I'm being paranoid, read the tractor story.

Of course doing studs so close together meant a really annoying job insulating it - lots of cuts (which you do with a bread knife - another neat thing about rock wool). Naturally, Ren made me do it. My idea to do narrow studs.

Tightly spaced studs for security.
Security studding

Stairs from garage to house.
Stairs up to the house.

Rock wool insulation.
Rock wool insulation installed.

Drywall up.
Drywall up.

We needed to have the screws inspected before we could mud. That was a new one for both of us - not that most of it wasn't new to me.

See the gi-normous breaker box? We upgraded to 200 amp service. No more flickering lights when the heat pump kicks on. Also means I have the sub-system for a charging station when electric cars get worthwhile. Yeah baby!

Chloe painting trim. Ren mudding.
Chloe putting in sweat equity.

Hard at work. Chloe primes the trim while Ren does the last layer of mud in the TV room. SPOILER: (sort of) We are going to do two-tone base trim. Neither of us has seen it done before but we liked one color a little and the second color a little. When we put the two together everything just worked. We'll see how it goes.