3 Ways Adding Interior Wall Insulation Can Help Residents Feel at Home

New products and wall insulation practices are creating a shift in the way some builders are reducing noise, providing more energy efficiency and creating safer apartments, say insulation specialists.

How Wall Insulation can Improve the Apartment Resident Experience

Insulating interior walls, in addition to those on exteriors, is becoming more common. The return on investment, says Home Depot Merchant for Insulation Arianna Jackson, is retaining residents who desire quieter, more comfortable living spaces.

“One of largest complaints around multifamily properties is noise transference or lack of privacy,” she said. “The reality is people are moving into multifamily housing for longer terms of their life. What may have once been a short-term step to a home, multifamily is becoming an increasingly common way of life for us in the U.S.  And that quality of life cannot be overlooked by builders as they build into multifamily properties.”

Jackson says demand is up for interior wall insulation products as builders and redevelopers are changing how the insides of apartments, homes, and commercial property structures are being built.

Three reasons why Jackson believes interior wall insulation can make multifamily housing more desirable and increase resident retention:

Insulation Multifamily

1. Quality of life

For years, insulation has been used in residential and commercial buildings to seal the outside envelope from the elements. Interior walls have been left as open cavities – nothing in between the sheetrock except for studs and electrical wires.

In most states and cities, insulation is required on exteriors and walls that separate units, but code seldom exists for insulating walls within units. However, filling interior walls with traditional fiberglass insulation or newer products made from stone wool will muffle noise even from room to room. That can improve resident satisfaction, says Jackson. For example, the whir of a washing machine softens when all walls are insulated, providing a quieter setting in the adjoining bedroom for a child doing homework or a professional working from home.

“You think about walking into a property and where it’s built – it might be built next to a loud roadway or train system – and interior wall insulation is going to reduce noise transference,” Jackson said. “It enhances the quality of life.”

2. Greater fire safety

Interior insulation provides a safety net during fires. Insulation made from non-combustible materials can withstand extreme temperatures and delay the spread of fire, Jackson says. That’s nothing new, but improvements are being made to better contain fires.

“All insulation provides a fire retardant that slows the progression of fire,” she said. “It’s getting better. A lot of people think that fiberglass will burn, but the reality is that it creates density and a dense wall will burn slower than an open cavity where oxygen is more present. Regardless of the material, it will slow the progression of fire. By having that dense property between walls, it give another barrier that the fire has to eat through before it gets to the other side of the wall.”

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3. Energy efficiency

As multifamily developers add larger units to the market, interior insulation can be beneficial in providing more balanced, conditioned space. Typically, says Jackson, larger apartments or living spaces have hot and cold spots – places where air flow is minimized and maintaining consistent ambient temperature throughout is more difficult.

Insulating walls provide an additional layer of energy efficiency within a unit, Jackson says.

The energy benefit from interior wall insulation is probably not the greatest reason that builders should fill wall cavities, but every little bit helps, she said.

Adding insulation to existing walls can be important to redevelopment

Jackson says the best time to insulate interior walls is to do so in new construction, but that retrofitting is possible when redeveloping older properties. Typically, drywall must be removed and batt, blow-in or spray-foam insulation installed, but in some cases walls can be insulated by cutting holes and filling the cavity.

Going the extra step to insulate interior walls can add to the value of apartments and make them more desirable to prospects and residents.

“Once they insulate, the premium for rent can be significant,” Jackson said. “As a prospect walks in, they hear the quiet, and that’s certainly something that can be marketed. It’s very important to residents as they are looking at properties.”



Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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