Insulation can save your home from around 58% of heat loss through the roof and walls. It is practically a straightforward thing to insulate to significantly reduce heat loss. The areas where homeowners typically retrofit insulation are the loft and the walls.
The type of wall or roof that you have will determine the best insulation type. But for every insulation project upgrade, a vapor control layer (VCL) and a breather membrane should always be installed on the warm side of the insulation.
The VCL will prevent the entrance of water vapor and increase the effectiveness of your insulation material to reduce heat loss. The breather membrane will aid in preventing heat loss from where air movement over the insulation draws heat out of it.
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Types of Insulation
There’s a vast array of insulation types available for your home construction or upgrade. Here are the available types of home insulation you can choose from:
1. Foam Insulation
Foam insulation is either made from polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, polyurethane, or phenolic substances.
They are best used in these areas of your home:
- Unfinished walls, including foundation walls
- Floors and ceilings
- Unvented low-slope roofs
The best advantage of foam insulation is its high insulating quality for a relatively little thickness.
Homeowners also choose this type of insulation because of its ability to block thermal short circuits when installed continuously over joists or frames. Hence, it works best on existing finished areas and irregularly shaped or hard-to-reach spaces.
When spray foam is applied, it reacts and expands to air seal cracks and spaces, making it very effective as a moisture barrier.
Likewise, the material is very light with an R-value of approximately R-6.3 per inch of thickness.
If you are concerned about whether it is safe for the environment, there are eco-friendly variants of spray foam insulation products.
The two most popular and best eco-friendly spray foam options are:
- Walltite ECO Spray Foam Insulation: ideal for under concrete floors, inside wool or steel framing, and foundation walls. It meets the strict standard of the GREENGUARD Certification Program.
- Icynene Spray Foam Insulation: a completely non-toxic spray foam insulation product tagged as “one of the safest, healthiest, and most eco-friendly insulation methods.” It is recommended by AMICA, the European Association for the Environmental and Chronic Toxic Injury, as completely safe to install in properties.
2. Blanket Batt and Rolls
According to Bob Vila, this insulation material is constructed with fiberglass, although there are current versions that are made of cotton, mineral (rock or slag) wool, sheep’s wool, natural fibers, and plastic fibers.
They are applied on unfinished walls, including foundation walls, including walls and ceilings, specifically installed and fitted between studs, joists, and beams.
The material is typically easy to install and relatively inexpensive, making it a popular choice for standard stud and joist insulating projects.
3. Concrete Block Insulation
These are insulating materials that are made from a foam board, placed on the outside of a newly constructed wall, or inside an existing wall of an existing home. The best places they are installed include:
- Unfinished walls, including foundation walls
- New construction or major renovations
- Walls (insulating concrete blocks)
Unlike the blanket batt and rolls, concrete block insulation is generally not considered a DIY project. It is best that you hire an insulation contractor because installing it requires specialized skills.
A major advantage of using concrete block insulation is that when it is installed outside a concrete block wall, it effectively moderates the indoor temperature.
4. Cellulose Insulation
If you are thinking of eco-friendly insulation for your home, cellulose insulation can be one of the best options. It is a very eco-friendly form of insulation composed of 75-85% recycled paper fiber and 15% boric acid or ammonium sulfate as a fire retardant.
Cellulose is a compact material containing no oxygen, making it a preventive material for fire. In fact, it has been named as one of the most fire-resistant forms of insulation on the market today.
5. Reflective or Radiant Barrier
A reflective system as an insulation material can be composed of foil-faced Kraft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles, or cardboard. They are best applied on unfinished walls, ceilings, and floors.
People living in warmer areas use this type of insulation in the attic, between joints, rafters, and beams to maintain an optimum temperature inside their homes.
Since the materials are typically lightweight, installing a reflective or radiant barrier can be a DIY project.
The reflective feature of these materials makes them suitable for framing at a standard spacing in an area that needs to be insulated.
You can also use radiant barrier insulation in bubble form if you need to insulate irregular spaces or if there are obstructions to the space.
Reflective or radiant barrier insulation is most effective at preventing downward heat flow, but this will depend greatly on spacing and the number of foils used in insulating.
What is the Best Type of Insulation For a Home?
The types of insulation for homes carry with them different benefits. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, with varying environmental benefits as well.
Hence, the best type of insulation for a home will significantly depend on the structural composition of your home, the purpose for insulating, the area where it will be installed, the budget, and the geographical area of the home.
Today, green building materials are becoming a trend and insulation materials are being manufactured to be eco-friendly as well.
You can choose the more sustainable types of insulation materials, so you can reduce your carbon footprint, save money, and help save energy.
According to Energy Saver, you should first consider the following when you choose the best type of insulation for your home:
- Where you want or need to install or add insulation
- The recommended R-values for areas you want to insulate
The Best Insulation Material
You should know the maximum thermal performance of the R-value of the insulation material and how to achieve it so that you will be able to identify the best insulation material for your home.
Contact a professional insulating contractor in New Orleans for materials that need professional installation, like spray foam insulation.
If you decide to install the insulation material yourself, make sure that you carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take precautionary measures.
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