Bluewater Interiors Designs by Roxanne

bluewater interiors blog


"Remodeling is like pulling a loose thread on a cheap sweater – the job keeps unraveling."

Margo Kaufmann | Authour

Do you know what’s behind your walls? Or IN your walls?

You should! So put down the sledge hammer and read on!

Knowing what is behind you walls is essential before you start demolition of any kind. Whether it is pulling down old panelling or taking the entire wall out, you had better know what you are getting into. 

You really do want to know what is behind the drywall before you hit it. It could mean a huge expense you are not ready for or health issues.  Seriously.

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We are not talking about electrical, plumbing and HVAC here. Don’t get me wrong – those are important and you do need to know where they are located in your walls so you don’t do damage that is going to result in calling in the professionals. 

What I am talking about here is old insulation, asbestos and mold.

Old Insulation

Do you know what happens to insulation over the years? It breaks down.  It becomes brittle because the glue holding all that fibreglass together dries out. And then the insulation starts falling apart….like really, really easy. 

And if you start taking the wall down without knowing how old that insulation is, all those airborne microscopic glass toxins get into the air and then you breathe that shit in. Yah I said ‘shit’. Because this shit is not good for you. 

So how do you know? You don’t….but you can check it out easily. Take the electrical outlet out of the wall….you will be able to see if any insulation is in there and what shape it is in.  From there you can decide how you want to proceed. 


This nasty product was used in drywall manufacturing before the 80s. Not that we knew it was bad back then, of course! 

Some paneling (the stuff that looks like wood or brick) in mid-century homes may also have contained asbestos depending on when it was installed. It was used in manufacturing during the peak of asbestos mining – the 1960s and 1970s.

2002?!?! WTF?

The King City Asbestos Company (KCAC) mine in west-central California was the last active asbestos mine in the U.S., closing in 2002. WTF? Oh and get June 2018, the US EPA announced that it would consider new uses of asbestos. Idiots, no?

Again, like insulation, the panels and drywall can become brittle over time. So taking the panelling of the wall could release the asbestos fibers into the air if it doesn’t come off as a full sheet. You need a professional to remove it. Even if you decide to cover it up with todays drywall, drilling holes to secure the material is a no no….it will release fibers. 

Little known fact, the drywal mud used to have asbestos in it too.  Where else is it, you wonder? Here is a list from the Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety:

  • Building materials (roofing shingles, roof sealants, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products and felts, house siding, and asbestos-containing cement and plaster products).
  • Friction materials (automobile clutch pads, brake linings, pads and shoes, and transmission parts).
  • Fire and heat protection wear.
  • Industrial furnaces and heating systems.
  • Asbestos textiles (fabrics).
  • Heat, electrical, and sound insulation or wrappings.
  • Insulation for hot and cold areas.
  • Packing materials, gaskets, linings, and coatings.
  • Reinforcement of plastic products, thermoset and thermoplastic resins.
  • Filler in resins, plastics and caulking and in asphalt road surfacing.

Crazy, eh?


Black mold. God, doesn’t that make you cringe??

Mold often grows out of sight in wall cavities due to water problems like flooding or leaks. And if you start using your sledgehammer on a wall, those spores are going EVERYWHERE.  Not that they are not already everywhere….because they probably are. Mold creates a toxic environment in your home, compromising the indoor air.  

It’s just down right nasty stuff. It is advisable to seek professional when treating mold in or on walls. 

So how do you know if you have mold? Well you can cut open the wall and look. Or there is a second method that is suggested:  sniff around electrical outlets.  If mold is actively growing, it produces a musty, earthy odour.  So take the sniff test, ok?

A Final Word

I want you to be safe. I do not want you to breath in stuff that is toxic simply because you got all gung-ho with the sledge hammer.  Seriously.  Insulation, asbestos and mold is serious shit.

Until next time, stay safe…


P.S. If you want help with your renovation check out my Renovation Design Plan service. The best thing about this service is it is tailored to YOUR needs. Set up a 20 minute chat with me to see if it is the right fit for you.

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Hi, I am Roxanne

Interior Decorator + Designer

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