What Is the Best Insulation?
Insulating your home is incredibly important in protecting your home and making it as energy efficient as possible. When looking at what options you have for insulation, it’s important to consider your home’s specific needs. Here, we’ve broken down the different types of insulation to choose from so you can make an informed decision on which one works best for you.
First off, insulation comes in multiple forms: batt or rolls (blankets), blown-in/loose insulation (shredded) and spray foam insulation. Each of these have different options to choose from.
Fiberglass is made up of sand and recycled glass. It can be installed as batts or blown-in. It is the most common and cost-effective type of insulation. It’s mostly used for thermal insulation but can offer some sound absorption as well. When installing fiberglass insulation, it’s important to avoid compressing the fiberglass. This reduces the R-value by making the insulation more conductive. You can install this insulation in your attic and walls, using the recommended R-value (R-38 to R60 for attics and R-19 to R-21 for walls). Aside from being the most cost effective, fiberglass can last for 30 years and most manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty.
R-value for blow-in fiberglass: 2.2 to 2.9 per inch
R-value for batt fiberglass: 2.9 to 3.8 per inch
Cellulose is made from recycled newspaper, magazines, and cardboard. This type of insulation only comes in blow-in form. It has better sound properties than fiberglass but it is still mostly made for thermal. Cellulose is also sprayed with boric acid which repels insects. When insects come into contact with boric acid, it attaches to them and once they self-groom, they dehydrate and die. TAP® insulation is also cellulose but contains more boric acid. Cellulose is a bit more expensive than fiberglass but fiberglass does not offer the pest resistance cellulose does. Cellulose is another great option for insulating your attic and walls.
R-value for cellulose: 3.1 to 3.8 per inch
R-value for TAP®: Typically 3.6 per inch
Cotton insulation is made from recycled denim and comes mostly in batt form. It is the most eco-friendly and provides great thermal and soundproofing protection, leading to higher HVAC efficiency for your home. It is treated to be resistant to mold and mildew. It’s the most expensive type of insulation after spray foam, but it doesn’t contain any chemical irritants and is the best option for people that have allergies to dust, fiberglass, etc.
R-value for cotton: 3-4 per inch
Foam insulation is mostly installed as a spray, but can also be installed as foam boards which are prefabricated spray foam. Spray foam is mixed at the site via two tubes. It then expands after being sprayed and can fill in all the hard to reach nooks and crannies. Spray foam costs 6 to 7 times more than fiberglass but it provides the highest R-values. It is made up of polyurethane and contains formaldehyde. For this reason, it’s important to make sure it is installed safely to ensure that the formaldehyde doesn’t affect the air quality and release toxins into your home. Spray foam can be used for your attic, walls, and crawlspace. There are two types of spray foam insulation.
- Open-cell spray foam provides the same R-values as fiberglass but with about 2 inches less of depth.
- Closed-cell spray foam can achieve higher R-values with even less thickness than open-cell, making it the more expensive of the two. Closed-cell is great for smaller cavities that don’t have sufficient depth to reach the recommended R-value using materials such as fiberglass and cellulose.
R-value for open-cell spray foam: 3.7 per inch
R-value for closed-cell spray foam: 6.5 per inch
Mineral wool is made up of rock. It mostly comes in the form of batts. It’s primary use is for soundproofing as it’s very dense, but it can also provide some thermal protection and resistance to moisture. Its R-value is lower than other insulation materials, but the combustion temperature of mineral wool is the highest of all.
R-value for blow-in mineral wool: 2.2-3.3 per inch
R-value for batt mineral wool: 3.3-4.2 per inch
So there you have it – the different types of insulation that you can use for your home. In the event that you decide to install any of these types of insulation yourself, make sure to wear a mask, a long-sleeve shirt and pants to protect yourself from any harmful irritants. However, it’s always best to make sure the job is done correctly by a trained professional. They can also offer guidance on the best type of insulation for your home based on its specific needs and your budget. At Insulation Labs, we inspect your home for free and help you choose what works for you. Call us today at (818) 351-2827 for a free estimate.