- Types of Insulation
- Fiberglass Insulation
- Cellulose Insulation
- Foam Board Insulation
- Radiant Barrier Insulation
- Spray Foam Insulation
Types of Insulation
Insulation plays a crucial role in helping to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures and conserve energy. It is essential to understand the different types of insulation available when choosing the best option for your home or business. This article will provide an overview of the most common insulation materials, including each type’s advantages and disadvantages. We’ll also discuss determining which insulation is suitable for your needs.
Fiberglass insulation is one of the most prevalent forms of insulation used today. It offers many advantages and serves to control the temperature in homes, as it helps to prevent air exchange between the inside and outside of homes. Fiberglass insulation also holds sound and helps homeowners save money by lowering energy costs.
- Low Maintenance
- Environmentally Friendly
- High R-Value
- Limited Lifespan
- Limited Fire Resistance
- Potential Health Risks
- Not Environmentally Friendly
- Prone to Moisture Damage
- High Initial Cost
Glass wool is a thermal insulation that consists of intertwined and flexible glass fibers, which causes it to “package” air, resulting in a low density that can be varied through compression and binder content. It can be a loose fill material, blown into attics, or, together with an active binder sprayed on the underside of structures, sheets, and panels that can be used to insulate flat surfaces such as cavity wall insulation, ceiling tiles, curtain walls as well as ducting. It is also used to protect piping and for soundproofing.
Fiberglass batts and blankets
Batts are precut, whereas blankets are available in continuous rolls. Compressing the material reduces its effectiveness, and cutting it to accommodate electrical boxes and other obstructions allows air to cross through the wall cavity. One can install batts in two layers across an unfinished attic floor, perpendicular to each other, for increased effectiveness at preventing heat bridging. Blankets can cover joists and studs as well as the space between them. Batts can be challenging and unpleasant to hang under floors between posts; straps, or staple cloth or wire mesh across beams, can hold it up.
Gaps between batts (bypasses) can become sites of air infiltration or condensation (both of which reduce the effectiveness of the insulation) and require strict attention during the installation. Careful weatherization and installation of vapor barriers are necessary to ensure that the batts perform optimally. Air infiltration can also be reduced by adding a layer of loose cellulose fill on top of the material.
Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation
Loose-fill fiberglass insulation utilizes a professional blowing machine for installation in open spaces to fill hard-to-reach areas like corners, edges, and around framing. As a premium alternative to cellulose, it does not settle or decay and can effectively provide insulation for the home’s life. It can provide R-values from R-11 to R-60.
Cellulose insulation is a popular choice for many homeowners looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. It’s made from recycled paper products and has numerous advantages that make it an attractive option for residential and commercial buildings.
- Cost-Effective Heating and Cooling
- Long-Lasting Durability
- Eco-Friendly Insulation
- Soundproofing Qualities
- Fire Resistant Properties
- Easy Installation and Maintenance
- Poor Resistance to Moisture
- Limited R-Value
- Susceptible to Pest Infestations
- Poor Fire Resistance
- Low Soundproofing Ability
- Difficult to Install Properly
Four major loose-fill cellulose products have been developed under various brand names. These are generally characterized as dry cellulose, spray-applied cellulose, stabilized cellulose, and low dust cellulose. These insulation types are used in different building parts and for various reasons.
Dry cellulose (loose fill)
Dry cellulose is used in retrofitting old homes by blowing the cellulose into holes drilled into the tops of the walls. It can also be blown into a new wall construction using temporary retainers or netting clamped in place and then removed once the cellulose has reached the appropriate density. This form of application does settle as much as 20%, but the stated R-value of the cellulose is accurate after settling occurs. In addition, a dense-pack option can be used to reduce settling and further minimize air gaps. Dense-pack places pressure on the cavity and should be done by an experienced installer.
Loose fill-in walls are an old technique of using cellulose in wall cavities. The home performance industry and its accrediting bodies support the dense-pack standard of insulating wall cavities, which does not settle. This method stops the stack effect and convective loops in wall cavities.
Spray-applied cellulose (wet-spray cellulose)
Spray-applied cellulose is used for applying cellulose to new wall construction. The differences are the addition of water to the cellulose while spraying and adding some kind of moisture retardant, such as chlorine, to prevent mold cultures. In some cases, the insulation might also mix in a tiny percentage of adhesive or activate a dry cement in the cellulose. Wet-spray allows application without the need for a temporary retainer. In addition, the wet spray provides an even better seal of the insulated cavity against air infiltration and eliminates settling problems. Wet-spray installation requires the wall to dry for a minimum of 24 hours (or until a maximum of 25% moisture is reached) before being covered.
Stabilized cellulose is used most often in attic/roof insulation. It is applied with minimal water to activate an adhesive, reducing settling and decreasing the amount of cellulose needed. This can prove advantageous in lowering the product’s overall weight on the ceiling drywall, helping prevent possible sag. This application is ideal for sloped roofs and has been approved for 5:12 (41.66%) slopes.
The low-dust variety is the last primary type of cellulose insulation on the market. Nuisance levels of dust are created during the application of most types of dry insulation, causing the need for simple dust masks to be worn during installation.
Foam Board Insulation
Foam board insulation is an essential part of any home’s insulation. As one of the most common types of insulation, foam board can be used in many areas throughout the house, including walls and attics. It is designed to reduce air infiltration, improve energy efficiency and provide an excellent thermal barrier.
One of the main benefits offered by foam board insulation is its ability to fill gaps between joists and studs quickly, easily, and efficiently. This helps create a tighter seal on both sides of the wall, reducing air leakage from the outside environment. The low cost and ease of installation make it an attractive option for many homeowners. Additionally, since it comes in precut sheets or boards, installation often requires less labor than other types of insulation.
Radiant Barrier Insulation
Radiant barrier insulation is a popular option among homeowners looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This type of insulation works by reflecting heat away from the building, reducing heat transfer into and out of the structure. Radiant barriers are made from aluminum foil or reflective paint and applied directly to ceiling joists and rafters in an attic space.
When considering various types of insulation for a home, radiant barrier insulation is often worth investigating due to its affordability and effectiveness in homes with limited attic space. When installed correctly, this type of insulation can reduce air conditioning costs during summer months by up to 10% and increase heating efficiency during winter. Homeowners will also find that radiant barrier insulation requires very little maintenance once installed, making it an ideal choice for those seeking an easy-to-maintain solution for their energy needs.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation is becoming increasingly popular for residential and commercial use due to its numerous advantages over other types of insulation. Spray foam is a cost-effective and energy-efficient way to insulate homes or businesses, as it expands upon contact to form an airtight seal that helps prevent air leakage. Not only does spray foam provide superior insulation when compared with traditional materials such as fiberglass and cellulose, but it also offers additional benefits such as soundproofing, fire resistance, and the ability to fill difficult-to-reach places in walls or ceilings. In addition, spray foam can help reduce energy costs by up to 50 percent annually.
Spray foam comes in two primary types–closed cell and open cell–each has distinct properties that make them suitable for different uses.