Deciding which kind of insulation to use in your home can be a tricky, yet important, process, as well as an important one. There are enough good options on the market to make your head spin – so how do you choose the best one for your home?
If you don’t already have a strong understanding of how insulation works, then now is the time to change that. Let’s start with insulation’s R-Value.
The R-Value is simply a way to measure the thermal resistance (the effectiveness against heat) of any insulation. The higher the R-Value is, the higher its thermal resistance is. Insulation with the highest R-Value is going to be the most effective choice for any season. It keeps the heat inside your home during the cold months and blocks the heat from outside during the hot summer months.
So what’s the right kind of insulation for your home? It mostly depends on where you live and what the local climate is like. You can find official recommendations for your region of the country by checking in with the local code enforcement office. Don’t neglect this step, as it is deceivingly important; after all, a home in Texas and a home in Alaska are going to require insulation with very different R-Values.
One common misconception about insulation with a high R-Value is that it will always perform at that height, no matter how it is applied in your home. If you smash down the insulation in order to “maximize” the space it is taking up while still maintaining a high R-Value, you will actually be doing the opposite. The R-Value is greatly helped by the air pockets located within the insulation, meaning if these air pockets are reduced, the R-Value is also reduced. It is, therefore, important to never squash down your insulation.
Types of insulation
Not only do R-Values of insulation differ, but so do the very materials that the insulation is made of. Different types of insulation work best in different areas of the home and in different climates – so pay close attention to get a good idea of what you might want for your home.
Insulation made of fiberglass is pretty simple to figure out: the greater the thickness, the greater the R-Value. It is generally positioned between studs in walls, ceiling rafters, or joists on the floor. It is the most “blanket-like” of the types of insulation.
This type of insulation is relatively flexible and can be manually cut to the size you want it. Thicker foam insulation also has a higher R-Value. Fiberglass is generally more efficient than foam insulation, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the better option of the two. Foam insulation is often used with concrete, such as the walls of a basement, in order to increase the wall’s ability to insulate and keep water out. It also is often used for the exterior of the house.
Blown-in insulation is literally blown into the locations you want it. It is comprised of shreds from various materials and is best used for insulation on the roof. It’s important to note that blown-in insulation is not to be disturbed (i.e. from walking through it) or its R-Value will rapidly decrease.