9 Steps to Drill and Fill Wall Insulation Projects

August 21, 2014
niki dube

I’m excited today to walk through the steps of drill and fill wall insulation. Drill and fill is a way insulate the cavities behind your walls.

I would rank this DYI as difficult but that as long as you keep a positive attitude, pay close attention to the steps below (and shower your loved one in gifts), you should be fine.

You are going to be drilling holes through the sheetrock of your beautiful walls. There will be many holes. It is also a bit of a time commitment – around 10 to 15 hours. If this is something you are wary of handling on your own, you might want to contact someone familiar with the process.

The upsides of this project, though, are worth the effort. You will not only improve the value of your home by eliminating hot and cold spots and drafts but you will also reduce energy bill by up to 30%!

Drill and Fill Wall Insulation Steps

  1. Prepare the room by moving or removing furniture and by adding drop cloths to capture sheetrock dust.
  1. To identify location of studs behind the wall, use a battery-operated stud finder. Based on the size of your room, it might take some time to tap, tap, tap your way to each stud. Mark the drill targets between each stud.
  1. Using your 4-inch hole saw attached to your power drill. Carefully, make a hole to avoid hitting a stud or other obstruction behind the wall. If near an outlet box, be especially careful. Turn the power off first.
  1. You will be creating a lot of dust, especially if your walls are constructed with plaster and lathe, an old DC technique for creating and finishing walls. Add another hour to your project if you discover old newspapers from the early 1900s as I did along with the original receipts from the brick delivery in 1921. Steaming the old receipts apart took about an hour. Save in one piece all the cutouts from the sheetrock.
  1. Once your holes are cut, setup to blow insulation into each hole until the cavity. Follow closely the instructions for safely using the insulation blowing machine. Use a long stick to prod and push the loose insulation down into the cavity.
  1. If a horizontal cross-member between the studs prevent the full cavity from being filled, then you will need to drill another lower hole to access the cavity.
  1. Since you will be creating a lot of dust, considering using a ShopVac or similar industrial-size vacuum to clean as you go.
  1. If you’ve gotten this far, nice job. You probably don’t have enough pictures to hang to cover up the 15+ holes in the wall, so now begins sheetrock repairs – mud, sand and paint. It’s called mudding for a reason. Use the sheetrock circle cutouts to fill the holes. Replacing the 15+ cutouts will require a series of steps from putting a backstop in place to position the cutout in in its original position. Then, completing the 3-step application of sheetrock mudding, sanding and painting. Due to the drying, add a few hours to this step over several days.
  1. Installing the backstop to secure the cutouts. Insert an 8-inch strip of lath into the hole and place it behind the whole so 2 inches of each end is behind the sheetrock. Drive a screw into each end of the 2-inches behind the sheetrock. Place the cutout into place and spread mud into the open space in and around the cutout. Spread out the mud evenly, then sand when dry. You may have to repeat this process to get a nice smooth finish without being able to see the edges of the mud or joint compound. In a circular motion, create a smooth surface on the wall using a fine sanding block. Vacuum as you go.

Tip: Be sure you schedule this DIY when your wife or partner isn’t expecting guests or family over. Or, make sure the weather is beautiful and the grill and outdoor table are set.

Tools and Materials

  • Air filter mask. (sheetrock drilling is dusty)
  • Work gloves. (Make sure they are snug, form fitting gloves).
  • Power Drill with 4 inch hole saw.
  • Stud finder.
  • Powervac. (make sure hose is plugged into the intake hole at the risk of blowing dust throughout your living room.)
  • Drop cloths.
  • Light. (For your safety, properly light your work area.)
  • Tape measure.
  • Pencil. (pencil marks should wash off with soap and water)
  • Bucket of sheetrock joint compound
  • Bucket of clean water and rag to clean up joint compound dripping all over your floor.
  • 6 in. Hammer-End Joint Knife
  • 210 Sandpaper or sanding block
  • Long strips of lattice
  • Box of 2” sheetrock screws. (include proper drill bit)
  • Insulation blow machine with minimum 3” pipe.
  • Long extension cord. (You may need two depending on the machine requirements plus another for project lighting).
  • Loose fill Insulation (choices are cellulose, rock/slag or fiberglass).

Want to live more comfortably and save money? Contact Max for a free consultation and estimate. Call or email today — Max@maxinsulation.us or (202) 750-2180. Ask for Max.