What Type of Insulation Should I Consider?

August 29th, 2012

Finally, you have the land. You are building your dream house and so far so good. Now, all that you can think of is insulation. But there is also a big question in your mind – 'what type of insulation should I consider?' All the insulation materials available come at least in one of the four forms – batts, loose fills, rigid boards and spray foams. Batts One of the most commonly used type of insulation, batts can fit comfortably between wall studs and floor beams. Faced batts can be used for basement as they provide high flame resistance. Foil-faced batts are also used widely in cathedral roofs. The material is usually fibre glass but you can also find that mineral and plastic fibres are woven into thick blankets of insulation. Their R-value is around 3.5 per inch. Remember, the higher the R-value of insulation, higher is the comfort level. This means that you will experience less heat intrusion into your house in summers and lower heat loss in winters. If correctly installed with proper air sealing, it can help in reducing your air cooling and heating expenses significantly. What’s more? It is cost effective too. Loose fills The problem with Batts is that they come only in standard sizes and cannot fit easily into  areas like attics with wires and pipes. Loose fills are basically loose fibres or small pellets and they can easily fit into building cavities of any shape. The R-value is 3 per inch. Loose fills are mostly made of fibreglass, rock wool cellulose and polystyrene. Care has to be taken to install the loose fills in vents with the required density; else there may be a reduction in effectiveness of air sealing over time. The condition is called fluffing and it leads to reduction in the R-value. Hence, loose fills can prove to be risky at a lot of times. Rigid Boards Rigid Boards are usually installed between joists and studs. They can also be used in foundation walls effectively as they are more water resistant than any other type of insulation. Only a few materials used for making rigid boards (Polyisocyanurate) are not used underground, as they absorb moisture. Nevertheless, rigid boards can provide very good insulation from heat. They can provide R-values up to 35 (for a considerably thick board). Also, they last long. The only difficulty is screwing the boards to the walls. Is it not worth a life of comfort thereafter? Sprayed Foams Liquid foams can be blown into even tiny cavity with much ease. When sprayed, they expand and fit perfectly into the shape of a cavity.  A thermal insulator such as dry wall has to cover the foam. For effective insulation in cooler climates, the insulation should be much thicker. They act as a better air barrier than batts, hence the cost of an additional vapour retardant is reduced. The entire setting is costlier than the conventionally used batts. But, they have proved themselves worthy of such cost. Now that you know the various types of insulation available, it is time to choose one that suits your house.  It is better to choose a safer and more comfortable insulation material in order to reduce refortification costs. If your house is already built, it is time to upgrade.