Renovation & Design

Renovation & Design

Insulating a garage a worthy project but proper steps required for health, safety

Question: I have an attached, unheated garage. I am considering spray-foaming the walls and ceiling. The roof vents will still be exposed and the shared wall to the house has drywall. My question is, do I need to drywall over the exposed spray foam on the exterior walls as well? I do not intend to heat the garage permanently, but will use a space heater if I need heat to work in the winter. Thanks for your time, Sean.

Answer: Using high density polyurethane spray foam to insulate an attached garage may be a very good idea, but leaving it exposed is not. This product not only provides excellent thermal protection for the thickness, it is also water resistant and an excellent air barrier. Because of these properties, concerns with moisture and condensation issues, common in garages, should not be an issue. The only downside of using spray foam is the cost, which may be substantially more than other types of traditional insulation. For the health of your family and for fire protection, spray foam must be covered with a fire-rated sheathing.

It is unclear from your question whether your attached garage already has a drywall ceiling, or if you are planning on spraying the underside of the roof sheathing with the foam insulation. If you currently have a drywall ceiling, and have not made the common error of referring to the underside of the roof as a ceiling, then there should be no concern. The ceiling should already be constructed from 5/8-inch fireguard drywall, which should be secured to the bottom of the trusses or ceiling joists. The foam could be blown in between the bottom of the trusses, or ceiling joists, above this proper sheathing. The gypsum sheathing will then provide all the covering you require, both for aesthetics and fire safety.

If you are planning on blowing the foam onto the underside of the roof sheathing, to give a more spacious feeling to the insulated space, there are other things to consider. First, the current roof vents will have to be removed, and the roofing patched, as they will no longer be required. Adding this type of insulation to the underside of the roof, in sufficient quantity, will provide a sealed roof system, rather than a traditional vented attic space. Putting the air and moisture resistant insulation in this location will stop heat and air from transferring through to the roofing and the exterior, so venting the top of the garage would be counterproductive. If this is indeed your proposal, the insulation should certainly be covered with fire-rated sheathing to prevent burning of the foam during a fire.

Any exposed foam insulation, whether it is spray applied or in rigid sheets, should be covered with fire-resistant sheathing inside the living space, or garage. The main reason for this is to prevent easy combustion of the plastic insulation in the event of a fire. When this type of insulation is burned, it may give off toxic fumes that can be fatal to anyone occupying the same enclosed space. The entry door to the home from the garage is required to be a solid-core, fire rated door, with a self-closer and weatherstripping, for the same reason. Neither exhaust from the vehicles, or fumes from a garage fire, should be allowed to easily enter the living space, which could compromise the health of those inside the home.

Adding a layer of fireguard drywall, or other fire-rated sheathing, will extend the time it takes for a raging fire to penetrate to the highly combustible foam insulation. This may be a matter of several minutes, which can be critical in allowing safe escape of the home occupants. Especially with a fire in an attached garage, which may go unnoticed until it is quite severe, preventing deadly smoke and toxic fume intrusion until the home can be vacated may save lives. If your home is newer, it may also have a heat sensor mounted on the ceiling, which should be connected to the home’s hard-wired smoke detectors. This will alert anyone in the living space to the danger while it is still safe to evacuate through the exterior doors.

Another alternative, which will likely be less costly, is to install the spray foam on the walls only and insulate the attic with traditional insulation. Blowing in cellulose fibre insulation above the garage ceiling, after ensuring a proper 6MIL poly air-vapour barrier is in place, may be a better idea. Especially since you will have enough space to add much more insulation than with the foam, a higher level of thermal resistance can be reached, with less expense. You will also be able to leave the roof vents in place, since they will be required to vent the newly insulated attic. In that situation you will still need to cover the wall foam with sheathing. Also, ensuring vented soffits are left open for proper attic airflow will provide a better insulated garage for less cost.

Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and the past president of the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors — Manitoba ( Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his website at

Ari MarantzASK the inspector
September 19


Renovation & Design

Batter up! Tackling split surfaces on cakes

QUESTION: When I bake marble cake, I use a loaf pan and the middle of the cake rises high and then splits. How can I avoid this? Rose

ANSWER: To prevent any cake from splitting while baking, make sure that the pan you are using is large enough; you may need to use a larger pan, or reduce the amount of batter. Reduce the oven temperature, overly high heat will cause any cake to crack; use an oven thermometer to ensure that your temperature is accurate. Avoid opening the oven door while baking.


QUESTION: I have a plate that has a chip on it. What can I use to glue it back on? Thank you, Rose

ANSWER: Krazy glue is a good option for this challenge. This product is strong and transparent, which will help to hide the damage.


QUESTION: How can I get black grease off a yellow working jacket? Rose

ANSWER: Consider using one of the following options: waterless hand cleaner or scrub the area with Sunlight laundry soap. Another option is to scrub the stain with an old toothbrush, baking soda and dish soap. Wash as usual.


QUESTION: My bedroom smells musty, I think it’s the bed, pillows or mattress. I leave the windows open and wash the bedding weekly. I spray with Febreze, but other than that, I don’t know what to do. Can you help? Thank you, Elizabeth

ANSWER: It sounds like the humidity in the room is too high. Consider purchasing a hygrometer to measure the moisture in the room. If the level is too high, consider buying a dehumidifier. Installing a fan may also help to reduce moisture in the room.


QUESTION: I have a screen door and between the panes, I cannot get anything but liquid, as it is so narrow. I cannot remove the inner pane. What can I pour in there that would clean the inside glass? It looks terrible.

ANSWER: This challenge sounds like a real pane! Drape a soft, high-quality microfiber cloth over a fly swatter, and use an elastic band to secure the cloth onto the fly swatter. Soak the cloth with plain water. Wipe the window with the fly swatter. Next, fasten a dry microfiber cloth onto the fly swatter and dry between the panes.


QUESTION: I have an upright freezer. Being a senior, I can access all my frozen goods; however, bread gets dry, and frozen vegetables get freezer burnt when I place food on the shelves of the door. What is the best type of food to place on the freezer door shelf? Minna

ANSWER: Since many freezers today come with an auto defrost mechanism, the freezer temperature fluctuates, drawing moisture from food. Begin by checking the seal of your freezer. A trick that I use is to open the door and position a piece of paper on the seal at the top of the door. Close the door and pull the paper, the paper should not easily slide out, if it does, the seal may need replacing. Secondly, make sure the freezer is cold enough. Freezer burn is caused by air becoming trapped between the food and the packaging. There are a few companies who have come up with freezer bags that have inner linings which form to food and then excess air is squeezed out. Or if you’re cheap like me, save old cereal liners and store food such as bread inside of each bag, or store food in a good quality freezer bag and suck out excess air with a straw.

While there are no set rules for how to store freezer foods, here are a few tips. Store meat products in the bottom section of the freezer, that way if the freezer breaks, the juices from the meat won’t contaminate any other food. Use the door shelves to store items that are packages and small enough to fit such as: juice, cookies and shredded cheese. Frozen veggies can be stacked and stored in the higher part of the freezer. Rotate and date items for maximum freshness.


Tips by Rose:

· To get rid of sewer flies, use about two cups of water and a couple squirts of dish soap. Pour the mixture down the drain. Repeat. This also works on cankerworms. 

· To get the sparkle back on my sliver ring, I used the liquid from my can of asparagus and the ring sparkles like the stars. I left the ring in the liquid for 30 minutes. 


Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.


Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website:


Reena NerbasSOlutions 
September 19

Renovation & Design

On the level

Marc LaBossiere
September 19

Renovation & Design

LED there be light

Marc LaBossiereReno boss
September 12

Renovation & Design

Keep those cukes under wraps

QUESTION — Why are English cucumbers shrinkwrapped? — Evan


ANSWER — If you were to compare the appearance of a shrink-wrapped English cucumber over two weeks versus a non-wrapped one, you would notice that the shrink-wrapped cucumber lasts about three times longer. Shrink-wrapping reduces dehydration and damage to cucumbers during transport and reduces the amount of moisture lost in the cucumber.

Extra Tip: Shrink wrap takes a while to remove. To quickly remove it, cut the cucumber in half so that it is easier to work with. Score the plastic along the seam, being careful not to cut through the cucumber. Remove plastic and cut off both ends of the cucumber, because the ends are a little bitter.

If you are cutting plastic off several cucumbers, consider using an electric knife.

Take extra care not to cut yourself when using an electric knife, because the cucumber may roll while you are working with it.

QUESTION — I am looking for an alternate solution to commercial toilet-bowl cleaners. Would you have one that I can make at home? I am really impressed with the window cleaner that you featured, so I hope you may be able to suggest one for the toilet bowl. Enjoy reading your columns. Thanks. — Helen, Winnipeg


ANSWER — Store your toilet bowl brush in either bleach or vinegar. Drop four denture tablets into the toilet bowl, leave for five minutes and clean with your toilet-bowl brush. With very little effort the bowl will look and smell great.

Did you know? Denture tablets are also useful for cleaning coffee makers. Drop two tablets into the tank and fill with water. Run as normal and pour the water out. Repeat using plain water.

Letter from Friendly Manitoban

Dear Reena — As I was finally finishing up a scrapbook, after 10 years sitting on the shelf and with a deadline, I ran out of my handy-dandy Tombow brand adhesive in its easy roller dispenser. I was nowhere near a store and I had to get the job done that night. As I pondered alternatives, I discovered the double-sided tape I use to plastic-cover the windows for the winter. It worked exceptionally well. Every box comes with plenty of tape and there is usually some left over once the winterizing is done. I think you can also buy the product separately from the plastic covering. — Sincerely, Lori


Gardening Tip of the Week

I want to share with your readers my favourite gardening tip. I use this hint on all of my garden vegetables, flowers, plants and grass. In a plastic garden mixer, I combine: 1 tbsp. Epsom salt with one gallon water. Epsom salt helps the plants produce chlorophyll, which helps plants to grow healthy and strong. I love this tip because it saves me money and makes a huge difference in my life. — Happy gardening, Max

Cheesy Tips of the Week

• Use dental floss to slice super-soft cheeses. Lay the floss under the cheese, pull it up and cross both ends to slice off pieces without squishing the block.

• When making homemade pizza: keep your crust crispy by sprinkling it with cheese before adding sauce.

• Colour cream cheese with liquid food colouring when using the cheese to fill rolled sandwiches. Use a variety of colours for every layer; slice it as you would a jelly roll.

• Cream cheese will last longer if you store it upside down to create a secondary seal.

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email to Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website:


Reena NerbasSolutions 
September 5

Renovation & Design

Food to grow

Colleen Zacharias
September 5

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