What is the Best Insulation for Basements?

While it’s true that there are a number of good options for insulating the basement, it’s also likely that contractors will have varying opinions. There is no shortage of insulation product on the market, and with so many product claims, choosing the best insulation for the basement can be somewhat challenging. But to be sure, working with an experienced insulation contractor will make a big difference. With a good contractor, it’s far easier to choose the right product for the job, and the right installation approach for the space. And for those who might opt for the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach, there may well be money savings, but the best project outcomes are with the professionals.

Regardless of insulation product or installation technique, professional contractors have their focus on making a basement airtight. Clearly its important to install a product that will achieve this aim, and here, Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) has become a favourite for many contractors. With one single application, a basement becomes airtight – the application serves as an air barrier, a vapour barrier, and an insulator simultaneously. In addition, SPF installs a level of R-Value that is far superior to any comparable product, or combination of products. However, in terms of project cost, SPF is a premium-priced product that may not be suitable for all basement projects.

Traditionally, fibreglass batts (the pink fluffy insulation batts) were a popular option for renovated basements. But on their own, they did not provide a complete air seal and did not provide any type of vapour barrier. Today, smart contractors are installing a combination of fibreglass batts and SPF – an install that combines the benefits from both products, and with excellent results. This so called “hybrid” installation allows for the SPF to effectively seal and insulate, while the fibreglass batts provide added insulation and excellent cost effectiveness. The finished install does it all – the basement is well insulated and energy efficient, and the cost savings on utilities is dramatic.

For any home-owner considering basement insulation, its important not to underestimate the benefits. The space is clearly valuable, and having it well insulated can add precious living space to a home. Beyond comfort, a properly insulated basement offers a number of other benefits: reduced heating and cooling bills; better balanced heating and cooling cycles; and annual savings that will pay off the original project costs. Here again, the SPF product (on its own or in combination) shows its strengths, especially in a space like the basement. Moisture is prevented from collecting; air movement is restricted; and R-Value is enhanced throughout the space.

In terms of cost-benefit, basement insulation is an excellent home improvement project that will deliver good value for years to come. Indeed, there is measurably more value derived than some of the more cosmetic home improvements. A professional installation, along with a quality insulation product will garner annual dollar savings that will quickly “pay off” the initial project investment. And not many home projects can do that.