In the past, insulating your attic was pretty straightforward. You had one choice of product, so you bought it and installed it yourself (or had a handyman do it for you). The only relevant question was how much you needed to purchase.
Nowadays, the issue has become more complex. First, there are several different types of insulation options on the market today. But there’s also more detailed information available about what constitutes proper attic insulation for various types of homes. For instance, the Department of Energy now recommends that homes in the New England area have attic insulation with R-values of between R-38 and R-60 (and for some homes in New Hampshire, the minimum level is R-49). And it can be daunting for homeowners to figure out which insulation product is best for their needs.
Here’s an overview of the most common insulation options for your home.
Insulation Rolls or Insulation Blankets
The tried-and-true method of buying sheets or rolls of fiberglass or rock wool insulation is still popular today, largely because it’s the most cost-effective choice. Most of these products are measured perfectly for standardized widths between attic joists and beams, making them easier to install. But in attics with vents, hatches, windows, and other openings, these sheets must be cut to perfectly fit the area — which, if not done properly, can leave openings through which air can escape.
Rigid Foam Insulation
This is an alternative to rolls or blankets because it provides twice the R-value of fiberglass insulation, but doesn’t cost that much more. Rigid foam also comes in pre-cut sheets, like blankets of fiberglass. However, rigid foam tends to work better in walls than in attics, and the sheets have the same “cut-to-fit” problems regarding vents and openings that rolls have. Plus, rigid foam must be covered with another material (like gypsum board) to meet many building codes.
Blown-in Cellulose Insulation
This application method ushered in a revolution of sorts in the insulation industry. Instead of hauling in sheets or rolls of insulation up into an attic, all that is needed is a hose that is connected to a pneumatic “blower” device that can be placed at ground level. The cellulose (which is often made of recycled material) can be more easily applied into tight spaces and irregularly-shaped attics, especially when wires or cables are present. However, it requires professional installation, and it’s more likely to settle over time, thus reducing its R-value.
This professionally-installed method also added a wrinkle to the insulation market when it was introduced; and today, it’s even possible to buy spray-foam kits for DIYers. The application process is similar to blown-in cellulose, and the foam itself is less porous than cellulose. Furthermore, when the foam is sprayed into small spaces, it actually expands for a more secure fit. The biggest drawback to spray foam insulation is its cost, which is significantly higher than other insulation options.
It’s important to keep your home properly insulated to keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. But if you need some advice on whether your attic needs more insulation, contact the experts and Moonworks. They can provide insulation services as needed, and they’ll even conduct a full home energy audit free of charge. So fill out the form on the right of this page, or call Moonworks today at 1-800-975-6666 .