Understanding the Different Types of Home Insulation

Home insulation has become an indispensable component in new construction, renovations, and retrofitting. Today, with the high cost of winter heating and summer air conditioning, a homeowner is motivated to consider enhanced insulation. Comfort in the home has become a requisite for every homeowner, and while energy costs continue to rise, every effort is made to reduce energy consumption and save on the utility costs.

When it comes time to decide on an insulation approach, there are two fundamental things to consider. One is the product choice. The other is the installation. And whether its’ the attic or the basement, a quality approach is preferred. Most important, of course, is for a homeowner to be well informed. It means having a sound understanding of insulation; having a good base to converse with a contractor; and making astute decisions.

Foam insulation – the best product on the market today.

Foam insulation (also known as spray foam) is considered by the professionals to be the best insulating product on the market. It delivers more benefits than any comparable product, and can be applied inside walls, under floors, and throughout the attic or roof. Foam insulation is sprayed into a given space where it expands and hardens to completely fill a cavity. One application effectively provides an air barrier, vapour barrier, and insulator at one time.

Blown-in insulation: available in cellulose or fiberglass.

Blown-in insulation (exactly as the name implies) is commonly used in the attic. Without getting overly technical, this insulation is available in cellulose or fiberglass compositions, each with specific product advantages. Industry professionals agree that the cellulose option delivers a higher R-value than fiberglass per unit of measurement. Both products provide excellent insulation where installed and both are fire resistant (cellulose is fire retardant – fiberglass is fire resistant).

Blanket wrap: foundation blanket insulating system.

Blanket wrap insulation is designed primarily to insulate concrete basements, while reducing installation time and the associated cost. The product is considered to be a high-performance insulator, conforming to regional building codes, and suitable in a wide variety of applications. Blanket wrap insulation provides a continuous vapor barrier when installed, and helps reduce air leakage. It’s a product that easily wraps around, and can be cut and custom-shaped to fit.

Fiberglass “batt” insulation – those fluffy pink panels.

Fiberglass “batts” are a popular insulating product for wall assemblies. The “batts” are pre-cut to fit specific widths, and are manufactured with fiberglass content, thus providing reliable R-value and effective energy efficiency. This product is naturally non-combustible, making it an ideal installation for the attic. The “batts” do not absorb water or moisture, and will serve well as a sound absorbing material between rooms and floors throughout the home.

Apart from product and installation decisions, one aspect of insulation that’s often overlooked is removal. Whatever the reason or scope, insulation removal is best handled by an expert. There may be mold and mildew throughout – there may be water damage – there may be animal or insect contamination. And in a worst-case situation, the existing insulation may be hazardous (asbestos or vermiculite). Here, the best approach is the professional approach.