A well-insulated home provides a great number of benefits and is one of the best home improvement investments a homeowner can make. Once you determine that your home needs insulation, it’s important to understand some basics before having the work done. It would make the process really simple if there were actually a “best” type of insulation, but it’s not that easy. All forms of insulation perform very well if installed correctly along with air sealing. So how do you know what type of insulation to choose?
A professional insulation company can not only determine if your home needs insulation, but they can also tell you how much and what type they would recommend. With a little knowledge about insulation, you will be able to understand what work is being recommended and make a good decision for your home.
The Big Four
Insulation comes in several different forms, but there are four specific forms that are used the most.
- Fiberglass: Just like it sounds. Fibers of glass that are threaded together to create an effective insulator. Fiberglass is available in loose-fill, rolls and batts and can be used in walls, crawlspaces, attics and other areas that could benefit from insulation.
- Slag Wool: Slag wool is made from slag, minerals left over from smelting metals, and other raw materials. The insulating qualities are about the same as fiberglass, and it is available in the same forms.
- Cellulose: This mix of paper, wood and other forms of cellulose creates an excellent form of insulation. Chemically treated for fire resistance, it’s available in loose form or with binders.
- Foam: Made with different chemicals to create open cell and closed cell foam insulation. The foam is usually mixed on site and applied with a sprayer into walls, attics, and other voids.
While all those types of insulation are effective, none of them can give you the best insulation value without proper installation and air sealing. Air sealing is the added ingredient that helps any insulation insulate better. Attics, floors, windows, walls and doors all have their “leaks” that let air in and out.
Outlets, water pipes, and any other opening that comes from the outside to the inside, is a candidate for air sealing. Caulk or another sealant is used most often to seal up all those openings.
About the only other thing you need to know would be the way that insulation is rated. This means the ‘R’ factor. The ‘R’ factor sounds complicated, but it’s actually very simple. The higher the ‘R’ factor, the better the insulating. So R60 insulation will keep you warmer than R30 insulation as long as it’s installed correctly and combined with air sealing. Now you can talk “insulation” with the best of them and find out if your home would benefit from more insulation.