Effective insulation for your home depends on some factors, the place you would want to install your insulation and the advisable R-values for the area you desire to insulate.
There are many types of insulations like blanket insulation, floor insulation boards, fiber insulators, structural insulated panels(SIPs), and insulating concrete forms(ICFs). You can install insulators by yourself, while others require professional expertise.
To have your insulator installed to perfection, you need to have a certified expert doing the work. Once you hire a qualified expert, ensure you acquire the estimates given by various contractors in line with your preference’s R-value(thermal resistance).
Second, inquire about their experience in working with your desired product. Lastly, get to know their air-sealing prices as it comes in handy covering the voids just before installing your insulator.
Suppose you want to install the insulator yourself; in that case, you will have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions keenly to do it well. You may also need to look into the safety precautions, building, and fire policies.
Below are the types of insulation you can choose for your home, their perks, materials needed, and how they are installed. But first, you need to consider factors when selecting your desired insulation.
Factors to look into when choosing an insulation type
Choosing insulation for your home is as important as picking out new furniture or decorations, as insulation enhances comfort levels in your house. Apart from comfortability, insulation saves you huge energy bills to cushion your pocket from unnecessary spending on energy.
The insulation types mentioned above all vary in what they offer, the strength and the scope of functionality, how they are installed and the costs associated. Consider the R-value, flammability, soundproof features and allergens attached to each type of insulation. Below are the factors well explained.
Installing insulators in your home means lower energy costs as you try managing your in-house temperatures. The R-value dictates the insulation type’s resistance to impede heat flow through materials.
This means that the higher the R-value, the lower the energy costs you incur. Some insulation types offer insane R-values, like the USA Premium Foam, which is 35% higher than other insulation materials.
No one anticipates a fire breakout at their home. Although insulation keeps temperatures controlled, a fire outbreak can be very detrimental, particularly if you have chosen a highly flammable material for your insulation.
Carefully choosing less-flammable insulation types and materials to be used helps you a great deal to keep fires away from your home. Although some insulation materials are coated with non-flammable facings, materials like cellulose can catch fire in a split second if not adequately treated.
Are you struggling with traffic noise, or is your neighbour’s dog too loud for you? Aside from lowering your energy costs and controlling your home temperature, insulation can also soundproof your home from all the surrounding annoying noise, particularly the injected or poured foam which is quite dense.
Fiberglass, mineral wool (rock and slag), and cellulose can act as allergens but are still being used in today’s world. They pose a health risk to users that are allergic to them.
Different Types Of Insulation
1. Concrete Block Insulation
Insulating concrete blocks for your foundation and walls can be done in various ways. For example, say the cores are not structurally filled with steel and concrete; insulation can be used in their place to increase the R-value of the wall.
On the other hand, installing insulators on top of the block surfaces is more advisable, whether inside or outside. However, placing the insulator on the outside is more effective because it controls the in-house temperatures.
Recently, polystyrene beads and rigid foam inserts have been incorporated into blocks of concrete by manufacturers for insulation purposes.
Having been used in Europe since the 1940s, AAC(Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) and ACC(Autoclaved Cellular Concrete) comprise up to 80% air of its total volume. These types of concrete are superior to standard concrete in terms of insulation, allowing them to provide insulation ten times better. Since they absorb water, these concrete blocks need to be protected from moisture.
They are large and surprisingly light with sawing, shaping, and nailing them a piece of cake with the correct common tools for construction. Pre-formed AAC and ACC use high-silica sand and fly ash, respectively; fly ash is found in electric power plants from burning coal as waste ash. Autoclaved concrete types have been recently introduced to the US market.
Hollow-core units can also be used and are made by mixing concrete and wood chunks. These units are dry-stacked, which means you don’t use mortar to bind them or fill the core with concrete or steel. However, a downside for these units is that wood is prone to moisture and insect interference effects.
For new construction works or extensive renovations, insulating concrete blocks can be used, while existing homes may consider the insulation of the blocks from the inside. Foam boards in concrete insulating are be used to cover the inside of an existing building or the outside of a new home, while air can also be incorporated into the concrete mixture to raise the R-values.
2. Blanket Insulation
Also known as batt and roll insulation, blanket insulation is characterized by its widespread use and ease of installation. These batts and rolls are bendable, with fiberglass being most frequently used.
Other materials for blanket insulation can be made from natural fibers like wool from sheep and cotton, mineral wool(rock and slag), or plastic fiber material.
Batts and rolls are pre-designed to fit standard spacings of wall studs, roof beams and floor joists. For 2 inch by 4 inch and 2 inch by 6 inch walls, R-13 or R-15 and R-19 or R-21 batts are suitable, respectively. If you decide to purchase continuous rolls, you can cut and trim them by yourself to make them fit.
When buying these insulation materials, you have to choose those batts and rolls with or without facings. Facings are coverings, either vinyl, kraft paper, that are designed to act as a barrier vapour or air.
There are areas where the insulation might be left exposed, which may require you to purchase the unique flame-resilient batts to the walls, say, basement walls. Installation of these materials may be problematic, but you don’t struggle with a facing as it makes fastening easy.
Liaise with the manufacturer or your local building expert or both to find out the ideal thickness, R-value and prices of batts and rolls you require, mainly if you are doing the installation yourself. Blanket insulation is best for unfinished walls, foundation walls, floors and ceilings.
3. Insulating concrete forms
To adequately insulate poured concrete walls, you need ICFs(Insulating concrete forms). They offer an outstanding R-20 thermal resistance for your wall and remain a section of the assembled wall. ICF insulated homes look pretty similar to timber houses, although they have poured concrete.
The materials comprise either joint foam boards or hollow-core blocks. Plastic ties affix the boards together for perfect insulation before pouring the concrete. You might consider adding steel rods (rebar) as reinforcement for your walls just before the concrete is poured. For foam blocks, steel reinforcement can be used on the hollow cores to ensure one-of-a-kind strength for the wall.
The foam network on cores filled with concrete may allow water and insects access. Therefore, manufacturers have recently decided to make water-proof blocks treated with insecticides to control this problem.
To insulate these foam boards or blocks can be very cumbersome if you try doing it yourself; hence, you need a qualified professional for the whole job. ICFs can be used on unfinished walls or new buildings being constructed. They also give off a top-tier thermal resistance for in-built insulators.
4. Radiant Barriers and Reflective insulation systems
Designed to reduce thermal conduction and convection by reflecting the heat off surfaces, these insulation systems help reduce cooling expenses in the hot summer. They are mainly used on attics subject to excess heating in high temperatures compared to any other part of your home.
This type of insulation reflects light through reflective surfaces, say, aluminum foils, into insulation materials that may be coupled with, for example, cardboard, kraft paper, or plastic film.
Like light, radiant heat moves in a straight line, and therefore if it encounters any surface absorbing the heat, the surface begins to heat up. Your roof may become so hot within a short time from the intense heat from the scorching summer sun.
The heat travels through the roofing materials by conduction, and sooner than you know, the underside of the roof is heated. The attic cooler areas gain heat through radiation from the heat on the underside of the roof.
The air ducts and the attic floor are not an exception. A radiant barrier may come in handy if you want to prevent this radiation since it reduces the heat flow through the air space onto other parts of the attic.
Radiant barriers can be essential for hot climate areas, particularly if your cooling air ducts are in the attic. Previously done research proves that an effective radiant barrier can save you up to 10% of your home cooling costs if you reside in a hot or warm climate.
You might even end up purchasing a smaller or cheaper air conditioning system. The good thing with this insulation type, you can do the installation yourself. Remember, its effectiveness depends on the foil numbers and allowed spacings.
5. Loose-fill and blown-in insulation
Loose-fill and blown-in insulation come in handy to insulate your home. Suppose the other insulation types are not viable. They can also be suitable for retrofits. These types of insulation are unique and versatile since they can be used on walls and other areas without disrupting structures.
Loose-fill insulation materials are recycled waste and may include fiberglass, cellulose and mineral wool which contains rock or slag. Cellulose is obtained from recycled newspaper, while mineral wool is obtained after recycling industrial material. On the other hand, fiberglass is up to 60% recycled glass.
Aside from the materials mentioned above, vermiculite, perlite and polystyrene beads are not commonly used. These materials are poured into spaces for insulation while cellulose, fiberglass and mineral wool are blown in. To ensure the work is done efficiently, hire a certified professional to blow in the right density levels for the desired R-values.
Manufacturers of these blown-in and loose-fill materials provide the R-values of their products and other useful information, including the thickness and the area each product can cover.
The information is contained on labels of the packages and fact sheets. This information helps you decide on the insulation type you want because they vary in the R-value across all the varieties and forms of insulation.
Installing the insulation is done by two installers whereby a tube is let run into the attic from the industrial blower, which is fed the material by one installer. The other one monitors the opposite end where the material is being poured.
A few hours should be enough leaving your home insulated. Inappropriate installation can reduce the insulator’s effectiveness with air pockets developed from the initial improper installation. On the brighter side-blown-in insulation can increase thermal insulation to upto 22% if well installed.
6. Rigid Fiberboard Insulation
Rigid fiberboard insulation or fibrous board insulation are primarily used in home air ducts and when the need arises for insulation that can bear extreme temperatures.
Characterized with various thicknesses from 1 inch to 2.5 inches, rigid fiber contractors from HVAC do fibrous insulation meant for air ducts. Each board inch can provide up to R-4, making this type of insulation quite effective. The outer parts of the duct can be insulated and fastened by impaled pins backed by speed clips or, preferably, washers.
These rigid fiber boards are manufactured from inorganic glass fibers bonded with resin. You can purchase either the faced boards or unfaced boards; faced boards are designed with a coat acting as a barrier to air or vapour.
A finish of insulating cement, all-weather mastic or canvas is suitable for rigid fiberboards. However, faced boards need the intersection of the boards well sealed with, say, pressure-resistant tape.
A considerable advantage is that they do not rot and they increase the structural wall strength. The boards can also fit into tight spaces and give off effective insulation regardless of their lightweight nature. Termites and ants may burrow their way into the board to build nests, but this applies to some types of materials. This insulation is expensive compared to the other insulation types.
7. Sprayed-foam and foam-in-place insulation
Liquid foam insulation materials offer a higher R-value than batt insulation materials with equal thickness. These liquid materials can be foamed-in-place, injected, or sprayed to cover the desired area adequately during installation.
This insulation can be done inside walls, the attic, or below the floor surface to obtain thermal insulation goals, including preventing air escaping. Small pressure-filled cans are provided for foam-in-place insulation to seal the electrical and plumbing spaces along with cracks on the walls.
In recent times, CFCs and HCFCs foaming agents have stopped being used for their harmful effects on the environment and the ozone layer. Polyurethane being the primary material, foam-in-place insulation is divided into two types; closed-cell and open-cell.
Open-cell foam cells are low density, air-filled and spongy, while closed-cell foam cells are gas-filled to aid the foam’s expansion to all the far areas of the space. Your pocket determines the type of insulation you may purchase. Closed-cell insulation offers a higher R-value, is denser, and prevents air and moisture leakages, making it more expensive.
At the same time, open-cell foam is cheaper because it is less heavy and cannot be used for insulation below the ground as it can absorb moisture. You need an expert to do this type of insulation for you and determine the best type of insulation for your desired area.
Other materials that can be used are cementitious, phenolic, icynene, tripolymer, and polyisocyanurate. Tripolymer, to be specific, has a unique fire resistance and prevention to air-leakages with a water solubility feature. To install liquid foam insulators, you need specific equipment that only qualified professionals can operate.
8. Structural Insulated Panels
SIPs are pre-made structural insulators incorporated into walls, ceilings, roofs, and floors. They can offer energy savings by up to 14%, with their superior prefabricated materials proving to be better than ordinary construction insulation.
SIPs filter off unwanted noise, enhance comfort, and, to top it off, help you cut down on energy costs. Manufacturers make panels of different sizes with others that need a crane to move and erect, like the 8 feet by 24 feet boards.
A properly pre-made panel should work well provided it is well cured, glued, and pressed because the quality goes in line with performance and longevity. Panel surfaces should be smooth with square ends to interconnect as required while installing them.
The common materials for SIP’s are polyisocyanurate and polystyrene foam. When ships are needed at the working site, they are ferried there.
With an experienced professional who has previously worked with these panels, your home is erected relatively faster than ordinary houses while still maintaining the building codes and not bargaining on quality.
With SIPs, you need a fire-resistant material like one made from gypsum. If a fire starts, the facing and foam are protected, saving time for people to escape the building. Manufacturers have provided procedures to prevent such scenarios for insect or rodent problems like boring their way into panels.
Spraying panels and the floor with good insecticide content before and after construction. House humidity percentages above 50% attract rodents and insects; therefore, keeping humidity levels low should work for you. Any tree with hanging branches should be trimmed as it may also channel insects into your house walls or roof, reaching the panels. Panels treated with boric acid daunt insects and are a good option for areas with many insects.
SIP buildings may be excessively airtight; therefore, adequate ventilation for air circulation should be ensured to comply with building policies for a safe and healthy environment. Installing SIPs needs qualified experts to place them well for the desired R-value.
9. Foam board or Rigid foam
Rigid foam sheathing insulation is versatile as it can insulate just any part of your house, you name it. They can be used in interior or exterior walls, including basement walls and the attic hatch.
Wood and studs are prevented from conducting heat from the roof onto the cooler areas of the house. Some of the materials commonly used for this type of insulation include polystyrene, both extruded polystyrene(XPS) and expanded polystyrene(EPS), polyiso and polyurethane.
The rigid boards offer from 3 to 5 R-value for every inch, thereby raising the overall wall insulation. High energy bills are caused by air infiltration in your home. Foam board insulation makes the house air sealed to help control the inhouse temperatures and reduce energy loss.
These boards are designed to resist fire from fire retarders added to them. In the long run, they help preserve people’s lives by buying time to get help and save people’s property from scorching to ashes.
Having full control of your energy bills is such a privilege, with the correct insulation material you can lower your overall energy bills by more than 25%. Although some may be expensive, on the brighter side, you will pay lower bills in the long run.
Insulation as mentioned above gives you more than just thermal insulation, with soundproofing and overall comfort being its other perks. With a certified professional and the correct insulation type, with a significantly high R-value, you are good to go.
If you love reading books or watching movies in a quiet environment, you won’t have to go to the library anymore. Soundproof insulation will have you reading peacefully right at the comfort of your home.
Are you living at the heart of the city and you can’t have some quiet time from endless traffic noise? Get your home insulated and enjoy the peaceful environment. Choose the insulation you need and not the one you want. This will reflect the friendly ills that will follow suit. For the DIYs, follow the procedures well.