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T37Chef 01-26-2009 09:58 PM

I'm installing new ceiling panels since I had to take half of them down to install my new traveler, and I want to add insulation of some sort before I put the new panels back. Ideas?

BTW, is it common or not for a boat to be insulated?


billyruffn 01-26-2009 10:19 PM

Don't know what type of boat you have or how much room, but on BR we have two layers of 1" styrofoam boards cut to fit between structural members. It works well -- even in the tropics the cabin will be much cooler than the deck. (I think the white hull and deck helps a lot in that regard as well). My only concern with this form of insulation is for the day we have a fire as I know styrofoam puts out nasty, toxic smoke. With that constantly in the back of my mind I keep the fire extinguishers close at hand and hope for the best.

I should add that the advantage of this type of insulation is that it is easily removed and thus access to the underside of deck hardware is much easier. As BR is a steel boat, removable insulation makes keeping track of rust much easier as well.

T37Chef 01-27-2009 09:07 AM

Thanks BR,

I have a Tartan 37C, 1982. There is about 1"-2" of space and I had initially thought Styrofoam would work well. I even thought about your typical household insulation?

The fire related concern is a good, something I had not considered.


xort 01-27-2009 09:19 AM

blueboard wil not absorb water. 1" panels available at builder supplies

sailingdog 01-27-2009 09:24 AM

Not a big fan of foam insulation if you can avoid it. Most of the foam insulation is fairly toxic if it catches fire...and much of it is fairly flammable. It is fairly common for liveaboard and long-distance cruising boats to have some added insulation of some sort, since that makes the boat a lot more comfortable.

deniseO30 01-27-2009 10:10 AM

Honestly.. by the time the toxic fumes from the foam hit you.. wouldn't you already be dead? Or at least off the boat? Just some thoughts of my own

Cruisingdad 01-27-2009 10:20 AM

I would probably use 'insaboard' (it is a insulating board with foil on one side and and a barrier plastic on the other). It is very common in bullding. You can buy at Home Depot or Lowes for less than $9/sheet (4x8 sheet). I have used it a lot and it is easy to work with.

Yes, if I was you, I would insulate. It certainly would not hurt. They do make a flame resistent insulation that is used around fireplaces and smoke stacks... but I doubt I would be too worried about that.


BlueWaterMD 01-27-2009 10:53 AM

Make sure whatever you use won't absorb water. As far as toxicity goes, I don't think it is really that much of a concern. If your boat is on fire, you need to get off the boat. And when you think about all the fiberglass, resin, cushions and ather stuff aboard (that give off toxic fumes when burnt) a little foam isn't really going to make much of a difference. If you really are worried about toxic fumes in a fire, you need to get rid of all your cushions and mattresses on board. When burnt in a closed space, in addition to giving off carbon monoxide they also produce a cyanide gas (which I have personally seen someone poisoned from). You don't see anyone throwing them away though, so a little styrafoam in the ceiling isn't that big of a deal.

JohnRPollard 01-27-2009 11:18 AM

While T37Chef will probably be okay with some sort of off-the-shelf insulation board, I'm going to disagree a bit about whether the fire/fume hazard from certain insulations is a big deal or not.

Over the years, I've read several accounts describing smoldering insulation fires that forced abandonment of the boat because the toxicity of the fumes was overwhelming, making it impossible to combat what would otherwise have been a manageable fire.

We tend to read about these incidents in connection with insulated metal boats, but some insulated fiberglass boats are also vulnerable. Builders of metal boats always face a dilemma as they decide on how/whether to insulate their hulls (besides the thermal and acoustic qualities, proper insulation can minimize the corrosive effects of condensation on the interior of steel hulls.) Most opt for insulation, since the benefits generally outweighing the risks, but as BillyR mentioned they live with the nagging worry about fire (especially insidious electrical fires from wire runs through the insulation).

The U.S. Navy recently (within the past few years) developed and tested a new foam insulation that is supposed to be non-flammable/non-toxic. I think it was spray-on, but I'm not positive of that. I don't know whether it has trickled into the market yet.

T37Chef 01-27-2009 11:36 AM

Thanks for all the input, I'm liking CD's recommendation, especially the $$ factor :)

JRP, I wonder if the spray on stuff the Navy has experimented with is similar to what they sprayed on my trucks bed? Rhino or Line X type?

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