Insulation helps to maintain temperatures and provide a more comfortable climate indoors, decreasing the amount of heat entering during warmer months and trapping heat during colder months. Most homes are insulated in the attic and any floors above unfinished basements or crawl spaces. The most effective places to add insulation to older homes are exterior walls, attics, and basements, which can certainly make it easier on your energy bill during any season. This guide can help give you some idea as to what to buy when shopping for insulation.
Before you begin to insulate, measure the depth of your current insulation. If you can see the ceiling joints, this is a sign to add more insulation. The ideal amount is 12 inches or more. If you have recessed lighting, make sure to leave space around the fixtures. To do this, you can easily cut around the material using a utility knife.
The type of insulation needed depends on the R-value, which is found on each product. The number is based on thickness and density of the insulation material. The higher the rating, the better the insulation. There are three different types of insulation materials: fiberglass, cellulose, and foam. The most common types of insulation are blown in/loose fill, batts, rolls, foam board, spray foam, and vapor barriers.
Types of Insulation
Loose Fill: usually made of fiberglass or cellulose and can be blown or sprayed into place with pneumatic equipment to fill wall cavities. This type of insulation is ideal for larger, hard-to-reach areas, and it can be installed over previous insulation.
Batts: precut sections of fiberglass or rock wool insulation. They’re designed for easy handling and are used between framing structures like studs and joists. When laying down insulation, it’s best to do the second layer perpendicular to the first. Try not to compress them while doing this as this helps avoid any gaps between the material. Batts are ideal for larger areas like attics and can be bought with or without an aluminum foil facing.
Rolls: great for larger areas with long runs. Rolls can come in continuous lengths ranging from 20 to 40 feet. They’re available in precut widths and are made to fit between studs and joints.
Foam Board: can be used to insulate any part of your home. These insulated panels can be installed in your attic or basement. To install the panels, just nail them to the wall.
Spray Foam: ideal for small gaps and cracks. This type of insulation is perfect for sealing around doors, windows, and vents. The foam sets quickly and can be trimmed, painted, or stained.
Vapor Barriers: help control the amount of moisture that passes through the insulation. If moisture from either direction builds up, it loses its R-value overtime, eventually letting mold set in and beginning to rot. If you don’t already have insulation down, use Kraft faced batts to prevent this. If adding to existing insulation, you’ll want to purchase an unfaced insulation.
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