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Proper insulation is important to ensure an energy-efficient home. Insulating your house not only makes you comfortable but also minimizes your heating and cooling costs by reducing heat loss and gain via your building’s envelope. There are primarily four major types of insulation according to material and the ideal category for your property will depend on the climate, the age of your home, and whether you are getting the job done via a professional or as a DIY project.

Types of insulation according to material

Spray foam insulation

Spray foam insulation, as the name suggests, is done by spraying foam in specified locations via spray holders. This type of insulation is best for fresh wall spaces, an unfinished attic, and even existing walls.

Foam insulation is expensive — costing around $0.50 to $0.70 per board foot for open spray-cell foam and $1 to $1.50 per board foot for closed-cell spray foam. Moreover, if not done properly, it may become messy. Additionally, foam is composed of harmful chemicals, which can be detrimental to your health, especially when you have respiratory issues. Hence, we would recommend you to always hire a professional when you undertake this task.

spray foam insulationPhoto by dunktanktechnician on flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Fiberglass insulation

Fiberglass is the most common type of insulation used by homeowners. You can get them either in batts or loose fill. This option is usually the cheapest — costing approximately between $0.60 to $1.20 per square foot. The process is comparatively easier, mess-free, and quicker. Since it is non-inflammable, it acts as a good protection film for your home.

Fiberglass insulation can be done between joists, beams, and studs. During the installation process, make it a point to stay away from the location since it can have negative effects on your lungs and skin. Additionally, cover the layer with a vapor barrier to prevent moisture damage. Also, note that fiberglass insulation is prone to sagging. Hence, regular upkeep and re-installation are necessary.

fiberglass insulationPhoto by David Cedrone on flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Mineral wool insulation

Mineral wool aka rock wool insulation, similar to fiberglass, is easy to install. The material arrives in the form of loose fills and is poured from bags on the specified location. Additional advantages of mineral wool are that it is tolerant to high temperatures and is sound-proof.

Note: Mineral wool insulation is quite expensive as well. Its price ranges between $0.5 – $0.75 per square foot. Additionally, it is not available easily in the market and the slivers from loose fills can cause lung problems when inhaled.

Cellulose insulation

Cellulose insulation is an organic and environmentally friendly option. Composed of recycled paper, it arrives in loose fills. The material effectively protects your home from moisture, heat, and pests.

One of the major disadvantages of cellulose is that it absorbs moisture and is prone to water-related damage. Hence, you may need to re-install them every five years. Moreover, the installation costs are also comparatively higher when compared to other types of insulation.

Types of insulation according to form

thermal insulationPhoto by Riisipuuro [CC BY-SA 3.0] from wikimedia commons

Every insulation material is available in various forms as well. Below are the most common types:

Loose-fill or blown-in insulation

Loose-fill insulation or blown-in insulation, the most common types of insulation, can be blown into a wall cavity or space with the help of equipment designed for this purpose. You can install it in new wall cavities, existing walls, unfinished attics, or any other crevice that’s difficult to access.

Batts and rolls or blanket insulation

Batts and rolls insulation are generally preferred in obstruction-free spaces. It takes the form of a blanket and you can lay it out between joists, studs, and beams. You may opt for batts and rolls in floors, ceilings, and unfinished walls.

Rigid foam board insulation

Rigid foam board insulation is usually used in commercial buildings. It is comprised of polyurethane and is installed in new construction projects, mainly over unfinished walls and unvented roofs.

Reflective insulation

You can go for reflective insulation on attic ceilings under the roof. It works by reflecting sunlight and by not absorbing it. You can find it in the form of foil-faced kraft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles, or cardboard. Reflective insulation is usually fitted between studs, joists, and beams.

What is the best type of insulation?

In order to recognize the best type of insulation, you should know its R-value. R-value is a numerical figure that measures the material’s ability to resist heat transfer. The higher the R-value, the better is the insulation property of that particular material. For example, rigid fiberglass has an R-value of 4, whereas blown cellulose has an R-value of 3.3 – 3.7.

Which areas of your home should be insulated?

window insulationPxhere

There are certain specific areas in your homes which must be insulated as they are more prone to heat loss and gain. Below are the major locations:

Attic and loft

When you live in a double-story house, it is necessary to opt for loft or attic insulation. Else, the upper floor will be really hot during the summer months. Proper insulation of the attic leads to lower utility bills, regulates temperatures, decreases noise levels, and ensures healthy air.

Walls

When you insulate your entire house, start with the walls first. You should insulate both the external and internal walls for ensuring maximum energy efficiency. Moreover, this step makes certain that your house is completely soundproof.

Crawl space

Crawl spaces are the limited areas under your floor and roof that are used for inserting plumbing and wiring connections. They are quite prone to a lot of energy loss. Hence, insulation of crawl spaces will ensure that you contribute toward an energy-efficient home.

Floor and ceiling

Subflooring and floors, especially above the garage, must be properly insulated.  Since heat seeps into and escapes from buildings via the flooring, insulating it is necessary. Additionally, ceiling insulation between the attic and the rest of the house contributes toward a more sound-proof and comfortable home.

Conclusion

Now that you understand the various types of insulation with their major attributes, you can choose a variant that best fits your climatic requirements and is perfect for the areas you wish to insulate in your home. Opt for a type that has the ideal R-value and also matches your budget requirements.

What Are the Different Types of Insulation for Your Home was last modified: May 28th, 2019 by Anisha Dutta
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