The Complete Guide to Insulation

Insulation is a critical part of any house no matter where you live. Most people believe this is because insulation stops the heat. However, insulation only slows the transfer of heat.

In cold climates, insulation can slow the rate heat escapes the house. And in warmer climates, insulation can slow heat entering the home as well. Since insulation controls heat transfer in both directions it is ideal for all types of climates.

Insulation, however, isn’t universal. There are various types of insulation. There are different materials, forms, and even insulation specific to the location within the house.

Keep reading this complete guide to insulation and learn everything you need to know to keep your house properly insulated.

Different Forms of Insulation

There are various types of residential insulation which all serve their own unique features and applications. Here are four of the major forms of insulation for your home.

Spray Foam

One of the great advantages to spray foam is its ability to seal leaks and gaps inside existing walls. The liquid foam is sprayed into the cavity of the wall where it will harden and expand into a solid foam. There are two options for spray foam: an open-cell foam or closed-cell foam. The closed-cell foam is denser than the open-cell foam providing thicker insulation and a slower heat transfer rate.

Blown-In

This is probably the most common form of insulation. The insulation material is blown into the cavity between the walls. The benefit of using blown-in insulation is the ability for it to conform to nearly any shape. This makes it ideal for hard to reach places and irregularly shaped rooms or spaces.

Batts and Rolls

This form of insulation is also known as blanket insulation. This is because it resembles a blanket and is best for unfinished walls, floor, and ceilings. The insulation is designed to fit into most standardized spaces between wall studs, attic rafters and floor joists.

Reflective or Radiant Barrier

Reflective or radiant barrier insulation is different than the other forms of insulation. Whereas the other forms slow down the transfer of heat into or out of the house, reflective insulation reflects the heat away. Typically, this insulation is used in warmer climates and installed in the attic ceiling. This is to reflect the sun’s rays away from the house.

Insulation Materials

The various different materials used to make residential insulation offer differing prices, advantages and disadvantages. The following is a list of the most common insulation materials.

Fiberglass

By far the most common material to use today is fiberglass. The use of fine strands of fiberglass woven into insulation material makes it highly effective at slowing heat transfer. However, because of the fiberglass, it is important to always wear protective gear. The fiberglass insulation can easily cause damage to your eyes, lungs, and skin.

Fiberglass insulation can either be blown-in or installed as a blanket insulation system. It works in nearly any space to include exterior walls of your home.

Mineral Wool

Mineral wool can actually be made with different types of materials to include fiberglass, basalt, and slag. The majority of mineral wool in the U.S. is slag wool. Slag wool comes from the slag from steel mills.

Mineral wool is not flame resistant and therefore is not optimal for climates with extreme heat. It can be purchased as a loose material or as a blanket.

Cellulose

Made from recycled cardboard, paper and similar products, cellulose is by far the eco-friendliest insulation available. Where mineral wool offers little to no resistance to fire, cellulose can help reduce damage caused by fire. This is due to the lack of oxygen within the material because of how compact it is.

Polystyrene

An added benefit to polystyrene besides slowing heat transfer is its soundproofing and waterproof attributes. This type of insulation is best for walls since it is cut into blocks. Before installing the material needs to be coated in a fireproofing chemical. This is because the polystyrene is flammable.

Insulating Your Home

When it comes to insulation choosing just any old kind is not the best approach. Unfortunately, insulation is insulation just isn’t true. There are various different forms and materials for insulation. Knowing what each has to offer will help you choose the appropriate insulation for every area of your home.