an actual use for duct tape
Wednesday, September 26 2012
Today while waiting around to deal with action items on the ongoing blown-deadline web development project, I put on my Sony Walkman FM stereo and went down to the greenhouse. That way I could listen to podcasts broadcast on the FM band from my computer while also listening for the tell-tale sound of an incoming instant message that would tell me to return to my computer and perhaps do some work. Today's task at the greenhouse was to install insulation. I had three big rolls of the stuff (some of which I've had for months), and it was all of the unfaced variety, which meant that working with it would be a nasty job. So I put on latex gloves and wore a fancy face mask, the kind with two detachable filters (these things are often referred to as respirators, though I think of a respirator as having some sort of active motorized component and perhaps a tank of oxygen). Despite these precautions, I managed to get enough glass fibres in my eyes to cause mild discomfort.
The main problem I had with the insulation installation was the impossibility of getting the overhead stuff to stay between the rafters. I tried firing a line of horizontal screws near the bottom of the rafters to catch the insulation and hold it, but the insulation was too soft and easily collapsed past the screws. Had the insulation had backing, I could have fired staples through the extra "lip" that such backing comes with, but there was no backing. The solution to this problem ended up being that most useful of useless commodities: duct tape. Duct tape is handy for quick and dirty project, but hopeless for permanent creations: solar radiation turns it into powder while in the absence of light time turns it into goo. But in this case, I only needed to support the insulation long enough to install a plastic vapor barrier. So it was a perfect application for duct tape. I strung it in several lines beneath (and perpendicular to) the rafters, supporting it at each rafter with a staple. It held the unfaced insulation perfectly.
Later I covered all of the insulation with a layer of black plastic, which would serve as a vapor barrier to keep indoor humidity from working its way into the walls. That's normally the purpose of the face on faced insulation, but in this case my custom barrier would have many fewer penetrations.
By this evening I had done all the prep work necessary to begin hanging drywall, so I installed two sheets along the north wall, each being a normal four by eight foot sheet cut down to a height of only 66 inches.
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