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Insulating a 1925 stucco home

user-7546055 | Posted in General Questions on

I posted a version of this question previously, but it didn’t get as much activity as I was hoping, so I’m trying again. Really hoping for Martin or Dana to weigh in here.

Climate Zone 4 (central VA). House is a 1925 balloon-frame stucco 4-square. There is blocking in the wall stud cavities in between floors. The stud cavities are not open from basement to attic like in some old balloon-frame houses.
Wall assembly is painted stucco on metal mesh>tar paper>1″ x 12″ wood plank sheathing>3.5″ open wall cavity. We have removed all of the old plaster/lath to facilitate electrical, plumbing, and insulation updates. This is a gut/rehab.

The vast majority of the exterior walls are in what looks to me to be amazingly good shape considering the age. As you’ll see in the photos of the attached PDF, there is some evidence of minor moisture wicking at the nails used to fasten the tar paper and stucco mesh to the sheathing. 
There is also some evidence of leakage around windows (which I was expecting), but we’re replacing all the windows, and will address these areas at that time. This is the only place I’ve found even the slightest evidence of mold/wood rot.

So…How should I insulate these walls? 
Dense-pack cellulose and rely on its hygroscopic properties (simple)? Treat it like a house with no sheathing and build an air gap, then dense-pack (labor intensive)? 

Thanks in advance.

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  1. user-7546055 | | #2

    Nope, that's not me. Very similar circumstances though. The responses there seem to be somewhat contradictory, which is what I've also found while looking through old posts. Hoping to get more a more definitive answer than they did. Maybe wishful thinking.

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