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Dear Jim: We built a new two-car garage and we want to convert our old attached one-car garage into a playroom. It has uninsulated masonry walls. Would we insulate and finish the walls just like a basement? -- Paul M.

Dear Paul: You will definitely need some insulation on the walls or you will be uncomfortable year-round and your utility bills will be sky high. The insulation and finishing procedure will be similar to doing a basement except that you need not be as concerned about moisture through the walls.

Over the past several years, many of the major wall insulation manufacturers have developed entire masonry wall insulation and finishing systems that make the job a snap. Since a one-car garage is not large to start with, you will want to minimize the loss of floor space.**

Choose a finishing system that uses some type of rigid foam insulation. This provides the highest insulation R-value per inch thickness leaving more free floor space. A two-inch wall finishing thickness can provide an insulation value as high as R-10 in addition to the masonry's R-value.

You can find these systems at most major home centers. Look for ones with notched rigid foam insulation boards. With the edges notched the entire vertical length, it makes a perfect pocket for standard furring strips. Dow "Styrofoam Wallmate and Truefoam "Truewall are examples of this design.

The furring strips hold the rigid foam to the wall and they also provide a flush nailing base for the drywall. Most building codes will require foam insulation to be covered with a non-flammable material.

Several companies (Homasote and Owens Corning) make insulation systems that have a completely finished fabric wall surface on one side. Once the insulated panels are up, the job is done. The Owens-Corning system has attractive wood trim, but it is only installed by professional contractors.

An easy do-it-yourself project to insulate the wall is with movable wall panels. This is an ideal method if your garage already has a window. When the insulating panels are closed, the window is covered and insulated too. When they are open in the summer, the attractive brick wall will show.

This wall insulation system consists of four simple panels made from one-inch-thick rigid insulation boards. Cover them with 1/2 -inch gypsum and finish them with any attractive material or fabric to match your room's decor.

The two stationary outside insulating panels are spaced out from the brick wall. The two center panels slide on tracks behind them. To close them and insulate the entire wall, slide them together from behind the outside panels. Add weatherstripping on the panel edges to eliminate chilly drafts.

Write for (or instantly download -- Update bulletin No. 805 -- list of masonry or basement insulation systems and DIY instructions for making a movable insulating wall. Please include $3 and a business-size, self-addressed stamped envelope.

James Dulley, The Buffalo News, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

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