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Musings of an Energy Nerd

Flash-and-Batt Insulation

Spray foam between the studs can reduce air leaks, but a continuous layer of exterior rigid foam makes more sense than flash-and-batt

The flash-and-batt method of insulation combines a layer of spray foam insulation — in this case, the spray foam is blue — with conventional fiberglass batts. The installation method can be used for floors, walls, or roof assemblies; the photo shows a garage ceiling. At this job, the spray foam is on the warm-in-winter side of the insulated assembly; at most flash-and-batt jobs, on the other hand, the spray foam is on the cold-in-winter side.
Image Credit: Image #1: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulation has several desirable characteristics. It’s an excellent air barrier, an excellent vapor retarder, and it has a high insulating value per inch (about R-6). Unfortunately, it’s also expensive.

Insulation contractors who want to obtain at least some of the desirable performance characteristics of closed-cell spray foam at a lower cost than a full spray-foam job sometimes promote the “flash-and-batt” approach. This involves spraying one or more inches of closed-cell foam against the interior side of the sheathing and filling the rest of the framing bay with a fiberglass batt.

A variation of this method is called “flash-and-fill” or “flash-and-blow”; these terms refer to an insulation job that combines closed-cell spray foam with a blown-in insulation material like cellulose or blown-in fiberglass.

The flash-and-batt approach can be used for walls, floors, or ceilings.

Some insulation contractors wonder whether they should compress fiberglass batts that are installed in flash-and-batt cavities. The answer is simple: Compressing fiberglass batts is a good thing to do, since (a) compressed batts have a higher R-value per inch than uncompressed batts, and (b) compressed batts are more likely to be in direct contact with the cured spray foam — and that type of direct contact is a code requirement for flash-and-batt roof assemblies.

A history of the flash-and-batt method

My first article on the flash-and-batt method was published in the November 2007 issue of Energy Design Update. At that time, the flash-and-batt method was still a little-used approach. I contacted a range of insulation manufacturers — both spray foam manufacturers and fiberglass insulation manufactures — and none of these manufacturers were willing to endorse the flash-and-batt approach.

Even though flash-and-batt wasn’t widely known in 2007, a few spray foam contractors claimed to have been using the method for a long time. Matt Momper, president…

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  1. christopherw | | #1

    Mineral wool on the exterior?
    I'm hoping to do flash-and-batt with a couple of inches of ComfortBoard on the exterior. This is in Northern NJ, zone 5. My current ideal wall stack would be:

    - Mineral wool or fiberglass batts.
    - 2" of closed-cell spray foam.
    - OSB/Plywood sheathing with WRB (Zip?) - the air seal.
    - 2" exterior continuous mineral wool.

    The idea would be to use the exterior of the sheathing as the air barrier. I'd like the closed-cell spray foam to provide a second line of defense there, but I'm unclear as to how you could meaningfully test that in a real-world build process. I would think you'd want to rush be seal up the outside first to keep up the moisture, and then you'd lose the ability to uncover any gaps in the CC air seal.

    Keeping the exterior mineral wool down to 2" should simply a lot of the installation pain points involved in using it on the exterior, while still providing the key benefits. Also, the property taxes are kind of insane here, so wall thickness has an impact on long-term costs outside of what one might consider rational and sane.

    I find it depressing to discover that no one is currently doing closed-cell spray foam with the more friendly HFO1234yf blowing-agent. (thanks for that update) I'd love to hear about it as soon as someone is.

    I know the idea of a "foam sandwich" is extremely unpopular, and I'm not really such a fan of exterior foam myself, but I'm not really convinced it's so bad as long as you provide an appropriate gap. I know it's been heavily discussed, but I'll point out again from the BSC's Mind-the-Gap: "Unless you provide a small gap between the exterior face of the OSB and the back surface of the foam sheathing to provide for some hygric redistribution." Huberwood provides also provide a detail sheet utilizing this advice "Zip system wall detail w/ closed cell insulation & exterior foam". I'm not sure why it just gets boiled down here to "Don’t try to mix the two approaches".

    Note: I've found the following article BSC report helpful in pointing out various quality-control risks regarding in relation flash-and-batt air sealing - "Hybrid Wall Construction and Quality Control Issues in Wyandotte" -

    In case it's not completely obvious, I will point out that my experience in this area is extremely limited. I've managed a lot of large projects building software, but none building a building. I'm relying on family, friends, and sites like this for everything I know in this space. Thank you for all your insight.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Response to Christopher Welles
    One thing I've learned over the years is that there are many, many ways to detail high-R walls, and every designer and builder has a different favorite approach. If you like the wall you have chosen, from a cost perspective, a buildability perspective, and a performance perspective, then you should go ahead and build it. It certainly works from a moisture-management perspective.

    There may be some green builders reading your comment who will note that the environmental downsides to closed-cell spray foam (the blowing agents with a high global warming perspective) are serious enough to give your approach a thumbs down. After all, you say that you will be taping the seams of your wall sheathing to create an air barrier. So you might as well just fill your stud bays with cellulose -- you aren't getting much benefit from the spray foam, and you have a continuous layer of exterior insulation to address thermal bridging.

    But, as I said earlier, everyone has their own opinion and their own favorite approach. If you like your system, use it.

  3. lowelllodesign | | #3

    Flat roof assembly
    Mr. Martin Holladay,

    Thank you for all your green technical advice. I am an Architect in Toronto, Canada. I just submitted a design for a flat roof assembly for permit. I don't have that much experience in flat roofs but read your articles on the website.

    Because the building is attached to other buildings on both sides so I think I need parapets that extend above the roof. So I thought venting it would be difficult. The size of the roof area is about 37' by 16'.

    Here is the assembly from top down:

    -Mechanically fastened mod-bit (torch down) roofing on 1/2" plywood on 5" XPS extruded poly insulation on #15 asphalt felt on 3/8" plywood on 2"x12" spruce roof joists 24" O.C. filled underside of plywood with 2" of closed cell with membrain smart vapour barrier on 1/2" plywood on 2"x3" chase space for recessed lighting on 1/2" drywall

    My questions are:
    1. Is mod-bit roof the right type of roofing to use, I have one interior drain in the middle of the roof area, can that work with an interior drain?
    2. Because of the 2"x12" roof joists, I thought it would be difficult to fill the cavity the entire space with batt so I thought I would use 2" closed cell spray foam instead under the rigid insulation and have the void of the joists empty, is that not a good idea?
    3. Do I need the 2"x3" chase space for lighting to avoid punching holes in the vapour barrier as it will be required in Toronto?

    Thanks for your help again,


  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Response to Lowell Lo
    Your roof assembly includes several vapor barriers, including the roofing membrane, the 5 inches of XPS, and the 2 inches of closed-cell spray foam. So don't waste your money on MemBrain. Your assembly is so vapor-tight that the idea of adding a "smart" vapor retarder that can open up and be vapor-permeable is a total waste of money.

    I don't know much about modified bitumen roofing, but I can't think of any reason why you couldn't use it with a roof drain.

    If you want to fill your 2x12s with fiberglass batts instead of installing 2 inches of closed-cell spray foam, you can. If you install 11.25 inches of fiberglass, the R-value of the fiberglass is about R-40. (Obviously, that's more than the R-12 you get from the spray foam.) You've got R-25 of rigid foam on top, so a total of R-65 -- making the rigid foam layer about 38% of the total R-value, which should work in Climate Zone 6.

    I'm not sure I understand you last question. You don't need another vapor barrier, since your roof already has 3 vapor barriers. Whatever you do, don't put in any recessed lights that interfere with your insulation.

  5. lowelllodesign | | #5

    Thanks for the reply.
    Thanks for the reply and advice again Martin.


  6. lucyna99 | | #6

    Compressed fiberglass batts?
    Hello, do I read correctly in this article that the compressed fiberglass batts have higher (?) R-value than uncompressed one? We've just finished correcting a bunch of fiberglass batts installations because we were told by Energy Star /Resnet raters that they were too big/compressed and would not perform correctly. Similar statements are made in the

  7. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #7

    Response to Lucyna de Barbaro
    Compressing a fiberglass batt reduces the R-value of the batt but increases the R-value per inch of insulation.

    If you are installing a 3.5-inch-thick batt in a 3.5-inch-deep cavity, you don't want to compress it. You want to fluff it up so that it achieves its full, labeled R-value.

    However, if you decide instead to install a 6-inch-thick batt in a 3.5-inch-deep cavity, you will achieve a higher R-value per inch of insulation.


  8. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #8

    Yes, that's right
    As the density of the fiber insulation increases, so does it's R per unit of thickness (up to a point.) An R19 batt at ~6.25" thickness is R19, or ~R3 per inch. Compress it to 5.5" (in a 2x6 framing cavity) it's total performance drops to R18, but that is an INCREASE in R/inch to about R3.27/inch.

    Compressing it even further to 3.5" (a 2x4 framing cavity) it drops to R13, but that's an even higher R3.7/inch. And...

    Compressing it into 2.5" (a 2x3 framing cavity) it performs at R10, which is R4/inch. The density is more than twice that of it's manufactured & tested loft of 6", but it's R/inch has improved by 33%.

    Cramming it into 1.5" (a 2x2 framing cavity) it's performance is about R6.6, or R4.4/inch, at about 4x the density of it's manufactured loft, but that's about the limit of what you can get out of fiberglass per inch.

    Study the manufacturers' compression chart values carefully, and look up the weight per square foot of product and the thickness at which it was tested. You'll find that an R19 and an R13 weigh the same per square foot, but the lower loft of the R13 means it's higher density.

    Whether the RESNET raters correctly assessed the situation or not is impossible to say without more detail, but if you were compressing an R19 into a 2x6 flash & batt and counting the R of the batt at it's full loft, that would have been an error, since it isn't R19 even when installed in a 2x6 bay without the flash-foam thickness. But whatever thickness it is, it's possible to interpolate the charts to estimate it's true performance.

  9. Expert Member

    The first thing you need to do is read the two relevant sections of your building code. Requires all roofs to be vented "unless it can be shown to be unnecessary". The appendix cites "specialized roof assemblies... used on factory-built buildings". So you are going to need to develop a case for not venting if that is the route you want to go down.

    9.26.11 Has all the requirements for flat built-p roofs. You need to at least incorporate some of them into your specifications.

    More generally, my advice would be that if you are unfamiliar with flat roof construction you should employ a roofing consultant to develop the details and specifications, rather than relying on the advice we are giving you here.

  10. charlie_sullivan | | #10

    open cell?
    I was expecting Dana to comment on the choice of closed cell vs. open cell, and say that open cell is actually better at air sealing, and thus a good choice for this application.

    On Martin's three reasons, the first is that closed-cell is better for air sealing in thin layers. Is that the key point--open cell does a better job of air sealing in thick layers, but closed cell does better in thin layers? Or is that still an open question?

    As far as vapor permeability, I would think that open-cell's permeability would actually be helpful in allowing some drying to the exterior in the winter, keeping the cavity dew point a little lower than the inside air dew point.

    But regardless of those points, if the local interpretation of the code is that open-cell can't be used in that application, it can't be used.

  11. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #11

    Response to Charlie Sullivan
    This topic (the rate of air leakage through closed-cell spray foam and open-cell spray foam) is the topic of an upcoming blog; stay tuned.

    The short version of the story is that you need a minimum of one inch of closed-cell spray foam to limit air leakage enough to meet the definition of an air barrier material -- that is, leakage of no more than 0.02 l/sec-m² @75 Pa (0.004 cfm/sf @ 1.57 psf).

    Most types of open-cell spray foam can't comply with that standard (and be considered an air barrier) unless they are installed at a thickness of 5.5 inches or more. A few manufacturers of open-cell spray foam claim that their products form an air barrier when installed at only 3.5 inches. Even still, these products aren't airtight enough to be considered for use on flash-and-batt jobs (where the spray foam is generally installed at a thickness ranging from 1 to 2 inches).

  12. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #12

    Response to Dana Dorsett
    I'm writing an article on this topic, and I'd prefer to reserve the discussion until my article is published.

    Briefly, BSC's Thermal Metric testing you refer to involved stud cavities filled with open-cell spray foam. That's 3.5 inches of open-cell spray foam.

    Some, but not all, open-cell spray foams qualify as an air barrier material at 3.5 inches. The results of ASTM E283 and ASTM E2178 test results for any brand of spray polyurethane foam can be found by looking up the foam's Evaluation Service Report (ESR). The minimum thickness of open-cell spray foam needed to qualify as an air barrier material ranges from 3.5 inches to 5.5 inches. No open-cell spray foam qualifies as an air barrier at 1 inch or 2 inches.

    For closed-cell spray foams, the minimum thickness is typically 1.4 or 1.5 inch.

  13. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #13

    It's the vapor retardency, not the air sealing quality.
    At only an inch or two open cell foam is more vapor-open than some housewraps, and even with a perfectly air-tight but ~5 perm painted interior the sheathing is going to gain quite a bit of moisture over a winter in a zone-4A/B & higher climate (zone 4C is more complicated.)

    But with closed cell foam even 1" is closing-in on class-II vapor retardency at 1.5 perms max, dramatically reducing the moisture uptake, and at 2" it's well under the 1-perm margin.

    At an equal R-value (rather than thickness) of R13, open cell foam appears to have a more consistent air tightness across outdoor temperature than closed cell foam, has a better overall air-tightness average according to the experimental data presented by the Building Science Corp, that Martin covered in this earlier blog:

    Note how the infiltration & exfiltration numbers barely move between the 42C/108F data and the -18C/0F data for open cell, whereas with closed cell it nearly doubles:

    But both are fairly good at air sealing, if not a perfect solution. The assemblies tested had no caulking under bottom plates, or between doubled-up top plates, places where the foam doesn't reach. But in those conditions (common in retrofits, and in a lot of new construction) here is a very real net performance difference. Looking at the average degradation of performance with imposed air flow, the R13 open cell is substantially less than with the R13 closed cell:

    But R13 open cell foam is still on the order of 10 perms the very high end of class-III vapor retardency (about 2x as vapor open as interior latex paint), whereas R13 closed cell is on the order of 0.5-0.7 perms, a class-II vapor retarder. Ten perms is way too high to be of any use in limiting the moisture uptake into the sheathing. Even if the condensing surface (the foam/fiber interface) is enough for dew point control the high vapor permeance of open cell foam makes that fact pretty much an academic footnote. Depending on the climate zone and the construction details of the assembly it could still need an interior side vapor retarder tighter than 5 perms, even though no condensation occurs at the foam/fiber boundary.

    Roof decks don't dry toward the exterior in most assemblies, and walls without rainscreens don't either. OSB or plywood are on the order of 1-perm when dry, and not great for flow-through vapor diffusion drying- they're the problem! A fiberboard sheathed assembly with an exterior vented gap might do just fine with an open-cell flash & batt even in a cold/very cold climate but there are a lot of particulars to consider before using open cell foam that way.

  14. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #14

    I'll be very curious to see that blog!
    There are lots of moving parts to the story, and I'm happy to wait to read what you come up with!

    A financial side note on the prior BSC testing: The installed price of 3.5" of ocSPF is typically 25-35% cheaper than 2" of ccSPF.

  15. charlie_sullivan | | #15

    I thought that would an interesting discussion--it already has been and I look forward to reading more.

  16. lowelllodesign | | #16

    Malcolm Taylor
    Thanks Malcolm for your advice.

    Lowell Lo
    Architect Toronto

  17. user-971555 | | #17

    Flash and Batt in Regard to Vapor Barrier
    Would you consider the flash and batt concept in Zone 1, 2 or 3? The issue being the vapor permeability of the closed cell insulation.

  18. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #18

    Response to Bruce Rachel
    Yes, the flash and batt method can be used in hot climates. That's why I wrote, "It’s a good method for hot climates, since the spray foam layer interrupts inward solar vapor drive."

  19. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #19

    More on vapor barriers
    You seem concerned that the closed-cell spray foam layer in a flash-and-batt wall creates a vapor barrier. While 1 to 2 inches of closed-cell spray foam has a vapor permeance of 0.8 to 2.0 perms -- meaning that it's either a vapor barrier or almost a vapor barrier -- it won't cause any problems in hot climates. Everything on the exterior side of the spray foam layer can dry to the exterior, and everything on the interior side of the spray foam layer can dry to the interior. The surfaces of the cured spray foam will never get cold enough in Climate Zones 1, 2, or 3 to become a condensing surface.

  20. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #20

    The sheathing IS a vapor retarder!
    A closed cell foam is between 0.8 and 1.5 perms @ 1",and 0.4-0.8 perms @ 2".

    OSB or CDX is between 0.5 & 1 perm @ 1/2" (unless the average relative humidity of proximate air is high over a very sustained period of time weeks, raising the moisture content of the wood). The sheathing itself is as much of a vapor retarder as an inch or more of closed cell foam in a cooling dominated climate. A rainscreen gap or other back-vented siding (eg vinyl) keeps the sheathing from becoming vapor open, but a stucco or brick-clad assembly may still have fairly permeable sheathing if the cavity isn't properly vented, due to the high moisture retention of those types of siding, keeping the RH of the air in the siding gap high.

    With properly vented siding the effect of the additional redardency of the foam may be measurable in a lab, but from a practical and latent cooling load point of view it doesn't matter NEARLY as much as the air-tightness of the assembly in a cooling dominated climate.

    Paraphrasing a 1990s internal Clinton campaign slogan, "It's the air leakage, stupid!" It only takes but a miniscule amount of air leakage to move as much outdoor humidity into the assembly to equal the vapor diffusion through a full sheet of half-inch OSB. The cable guy's air leaks introduce a whole wall's vapor-diffusion worth in a typical installation.

  21. Tim C | | #21

    Martin, what's your take on flash and batt's "sibling", flash and loose fill, for unconditioned attic floors?

  22. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #22

    Response to Tim C
    You are asking about the use of a thin layer of closed-cell spray foam against the ceiling drywall -- sprayed from the attic side -- before installing a thick layer of cellulose or loose-fill fiberglass. Right?

    I certainly agree that every ceiling needs to be air sealed before cellulose or fiberglass insulation is installed above the ceiling. I described the necessary steps in my article on the topic, Air Sealing an Attic.

    However, it's almost always unnecessary (and unnecessarily expensive) to install a layer of closed-cell spray foam over the entire surface of the drywall ceiling in order to perform air sealing. It makes more sense to think about where the air leaks are -- for example, at the gaps between partition top plates and partition drywall; at plumbing vent penetrations; and at electrical penetrations -- and to address those air leaks with an appropriate sealant (two-component spray foam, one-component spray foam, tape, or caulk).

    One other reason why you don't need to install a layer of closed-cell spray foam over the entire ceiling: closed-cell spray foam is manufactured with a blowing agent that has a high global warming potential.

  23. user-971555 | | #23

    More on Vapor Barriers Response to Martin
    Thank you, Martin. I have always been told than in zones 1-3 we want the vapor to go all the way thru the assembly. That is why I wanted to confirm.

    What I really want to build in Zone 3 is this wall assembly:
    The issue that has been confusing me is that all of the structural insulation sheathings I have found have a 0.X perm rating. So they are a vapor barrier.

  24. anderslewendal | | #24

    flash and batt
    Martin: What about installing 1 1/2" of closed cell foam on the outside of the studs and spraying 2" of closed cell foam in the cavities against the exterior foam and then blow in 3 1/2" of cellulose to finish the insulation? Interior shear walls of either plywood or 5/8" drywall will substitute for not having exterior sheathing. Yes, an engineer is required. I have done it a few times with good success.

  25. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #25

    Response to Bruce Rachel
    In Climate Zone 3, you can use any thickness of rigid foam you want on the exterior side of your studs. You can use 1/2-inch rigid foam or 3-inch rigid foam -- it all works. There is no condensation worry in Climate Zone 3, because your winters never get cold enough for you to worry about this issue.

    If you end up with an exterior vapor barrier created by installing exterior rigid foam -- all the better. The rigid foam stops inward solar vapor drive, and that's a good thing.

    For more information on these issues, see Calculating the Minimum Thickness of Rigid Foam Sheathing.

  26. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #26

    Response to Anders Lewendal
    Q. "What about installing 1 1/2 inch of closed cell foam [I think you mean rigid foam] on the outside of the studs and spraying 2 inches of closed-cell foam in the cavities against the exterior foam and then blow in 3 1/2 inches of cellulose to finish the insulation?"

    A. From a building science perspective, that works just fine. From a financial perspective, it's a little expensive (because of the cost of the spray foam). From a green building perspective, it gets the usual thumbs down, because of the fact that the blowing agents used to make closed-cell spray foam have a high global warming potential.

    I'd prefer to see you develop a way to use the exterior rigid foam as an air barrier -- for example, by taping the foam seams. That way you could skip the spray foam.

  27. energylogic | | #27

    Flash and Batt Air Barrier Requirements
    Martin, We believe that fiberglass insulation needs to be installed full encapsulated with an air barrier on all six sides to meet manufacturer's installation requirements and to reduce convective loops within fiberglass assembly. I would like to get your opinion on if flash and batt meet the IECC air barrier requirement and installation requirements in attic knee wall applications or chase wall applications where drywall or other air barrier will not be installed on the fiberglass side of the assembly.

  28. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #28

    Response to Robby Schwarz
    You wrote, "I would like to get your opinion on if flash and batt meet the IECC air barrier requirement and installation requirements in attic knee wall applications or chase wall applications where drywall or other air barrier will not be installed on the fiberglass side of the assembly."

    Usually, flash-and-batt is installed with the spray foam layer on the exterior side of the assembly. It sounds as if you are talking about backwards flash-and-batt -- with the spray foam installed on the interior side of the assembly (as it was in the photo used for this article).

    I'm not familiar enough with IECC air barrier requirements to give you a code ruling -- and in any case, my opinion is irrelevant. (The only code interpretation that matters is the opinion of the local code official.) But I know the building science answer to your question: You always need an air barrier on the fiberglass side of the assembly.

  29. user-7126435 | | #29

    Butterfly roof w/ Flash & Batt & Membrane

    Good afternoon. Thank you for the information above, this is a great resource. We have a project in climate zone 5. It entails a large butterfly roof condition 2:12 pitch with a large (50'lx13'h) wall of glass on the rear of the home. The glass wall faces mostly due east for what it's worth.

    The proposed roof structure is 12" joists at 24" o.c. Because of the butterfly roof and limitations on venting, we opted to use a flash & batt method to avoid it all together. Per our climate zone we are figuring R-20 -- 3" of closed cell spray foam and R-30 batts making up the remainder of the 12" of structure. We are calling for taped drywall ceiling behind our T&G wood ceiling.

    Our original intent was to put an additional layer of 2" rigid insulation on the exterior side of the sheathing and a membrane roof on top of that. However, you mention in the article above not to add this second layer of rigid and combine the two methods as it would trap moisture and cause the sheathing to rot. Would moisture resistant sheathing be an option. How do you feel about a membrane roof. Is it allowable to use a membrane roof with or without the added rigid insulation.



  30. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #30

    Response to Kevin (Comment #29)
    You may install rigid foam above your roof sheathing, followed by membrane roofing, if you want. People do that all the time, even when the roof sheathing can't dry inward. While this approach may not be ideal, it's a common approach for a roof, and it works.

    The obvious point is that when you encapsulate the roof sheathing -- in your case, the closed-cell spray foam will be installed after the roofing is finished -- make sure that the roof sheathing is dry. You don't want to encapsulate the sheathing when the sheathing is damp.

    Some people worry about sandwiching roof sheathing between two impermeable layers. I usually advise those people, "If you are a worrier, and you don't want to encapsulate your roof sheathing, design your house to have a vented unconditioned attic."

    You're not doing that, however, so you should stop worrying and proceed with your plan.

  31. mj62mj62 | | #31

    Hello! Thank you for such a great site! I’m hoping you can help:

    I have a factory-made 18' x 8' brand new garden shed, made into a fully-fitted office/studio with 2 rooms:
    - studio for ceramics work
    - kiln room (a pottery oven that gives off considerable heat)

    We are in the UK and are doing the interior ourselves to save money.

    - Sloped
    - Shed felt on timber decking (felt details:
    - Unvented:
    o Soffit is well sealed
    o No rear overhang or rear roof vents, but air gets through where wall meets roof unevenly
    - 2.5” rafters (not very deep!)
    - Cold roof only. Adding insulation on top is not an option

    Ceilings (sloped)
    - Drywall connected to the rafters in the kiln room
    - Wood cladding connected to the rafters in the studio room
    - Just 6’ from the floor – we would not want it lower

    The ‘closed-cell-foam + fibreglass batts’ solution looks great, but the foam is too expensive and looks too toxic for DIY application. So I was going to use the same style but with Rigid Insulation + fibreglass, ensuring I use tape to ensure the rigid insulation is airtight first. I appreciate this is not as-good-as foam but I'm hoping it's good enough?

    What do we do with the front soffit and the tiny rear space (which is draughty).
    Do I fill those as much fibreglass as possible? There are wires running perpendicular through the rafters in the soffit, making it a very small and awkward space < 2.5” high.

    Our plan for the studio room ceiling is wood cladding. You said they leak air, but that seems okay because we’ve made the rigid insulation airtight and the cladding is up against the fibreglass with no plastic membrane in between. Is it ok?

    The outside walls are wooden cladding. For wall-insulation I had planned for 1 inch rigid insulation between the studs, flush with the front of the studs, with a 1.25 inch gap behind. Then tape it up to make it airtight. That way the side that is most likely to be damp (the outside cladding) has some air space – but that air isn’t vented. Should we use the same solution we used in the roof instead?

    Many Thanks!

  32. Ryan_Huddleston | | #32

    Would using Zip R 12.5 (2" of foam) be a good option for a roof? I'm in zone 4A Its not exactly flash and bat but its the same concept. It takes care of thermal bridging, air sealing, and is easy to replace in the future.

    Replacement of roof sheathing with spray foam is one of my big concerns. I don't want to have to tear out the drywall in my cathedral ceiling to re spray if a piece of sheathing ever needs replaced.

  33. erikdavitt | | #33


    Not sure if you have any ideas for a better wall in a retrofit scenario. Currently the house is located in climate zone 6 in New Hampshire. During renovation of some rooms we found that the sheathing was very moist and mold is growing on the sheathing. I believe the moisture is from condensation and not bulk water.

    Currently the 2x6 wall of the house from inside out is:

    1) Drywall
    2) polyethylene vapor barrier
    3) r19 fiberglass batt
    4) OSB sheathing
    5) Tyvek
    6) Cedar Shakes

    From what I can tell the wall is not very air tight. The OSB is not taped and air leaks are noticeable just by standing near the walls. Also the polyethylene vapor barrier does not look like it was installed ver well. It think this is why the wall currently as is, is not working.

    I was curious about going the flash and batt route to create a better air barrier and to help keep the sheathing dry. I was thinking of using 3" of closed cell spray foam and then compressing an R19 fiberglass batt in the remaining space.

    With this method I do have a couple questions.

    1) Is there a better method when working from the inside?
    2) one concern I have with closed cell spray foam is it's global warming potential. Are there certain closed cell spray foams that contribute less to global warming?

  34. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #34

    Your flash-and-batt plan makes sense. For more information on brands of closed-cell spray foam that are less damaging to our atmosphere, see this article: "Next Generation Spray Foams Trickle into the Market."

  35. queensbee | | #35

    I am a complete neophyte on this topic, but was wondering: Could you address thermal bridging by combining ZIP-R with flash-and-batt? Since the foam layer is on the inside of the ZIP-R, you wouldn't be sandwiching the sheathing between layers of foam. Is there a reason that this would be a risky or ineffective approach?

    1. GBA Editor
      Martin Holladay | | #36

      Yes, you can safely install fiberglass, mineral wool, or cellulose between the studs of a wall that has Zip-R sheathing. The OSB layer of the Zip-R sheathing is able to dry to the exterior if it ever gets wet.

      If you do this, however, it isn't really flash-and-batt. There wouldn't be any need for spray foam if you have a continuous layer of exterior rigid foam (which is what the Zip-R provides).

  36. yokamal | | #37

    We're considering how to use ccSPF in a Zone 4 (Seattle) retrofit to encapsulate a hip roof attic, to R49, and do it all on a budget. The roof assembly is slate shingle, tar paper, skipjack board sheathing, 2x4 rafters. 4" of ccSPF against the skipjack sheathing would give us R30, and in theory offer some thermal bridging of the rafters, while allowing us to unvent the attic. We can't figure out how to add flash and batt cost effectively however, without furring out the rafters 4"-6". What about mineral wool in the joist cavities?

    1. MartinHolladay | | #38

      Four inches of closed-cell spray foam won't give you R-30, no matter what the salesmen tell you. I would say that R-26 is more realistic, especially a year or two after installation, when the R-value has dropped from its initial value.

      If you want R-49, you obviously can't do that with 2x4 rafters. There are lots of options, but they all require adding depth to the rafters (and lowering the ceiling height). If you want to use mineral wool batts without any spray foam, you'll need to create a vented assembly -- that that's very hard with a hip roof.

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