The typical summer cottage has very little insulation, if any. In most climate regions, it’s just not necessary. In summertime, the warm temperature doesn’t create much indoor moisture, and the building structure remains dry. However, for cottagers who want to enjoy a year round getaway, insulating the cottage is going to be a necessity. Like a residential home, the objective is to ensure indoor comfort from season to season, and effectively manage both air leakage and air moisture.
Properly weatherizing a cottage requires a comprehensive approach that includes air sealing and insulating - it’s really the only way to ensure optimum efficiency. Doing it right, whatever the size of the cottage, has a number of benefits beyond creature comfort. Plumbing pipes are protected from freezing. Windows and doors do not need shuttering throughout the winter. And appliances can be operational around the year. In short, the cottage is fully functional through every season.
In most cottages, the roof cavity and exterior walls are the primary sources of air leakage. For the most part, neither the roof nor the walls are properly sealed or adequately insulated. When done expertly, most every professional will recommend air sealing as a first step. This will provide the necessary control measure for both air movement and vapour accumulation. Following this, a high performance insulation product can be installed to provide the required amount of R-Value.
Removing Old Insulation
Whatever the conditions are in the cottage, there may be a need to remove existing insulation. The materials may be underperforming, and in some cases, even deteriorating. Old insulation could be compromising airflow and impeding proper air circulation. The best option, of course, is to re-insulate a space from scratch, particularly a roof cavity. It will allow for the most effective air sealing and installation of new materials. In addition, any repairs and/or retrofits can be done at the same time. Importantly, removing old insulation should be done right from the start. And doing it professionally will ensure a clean, safe removal, while setting the stage for reinstallation that will provide years and years of indoor comfort.
Installing Attic Insulation
Done properly, attic insulation will dramatically reduce heating costs in winter while maintaining maximum indoor comfort. Regardless of the season, good attic insulation will make for an indoor environment that is well balanced, including both temperature and air moisture. Here again, the attic must be airtight so that air leakage is constrained. When a space is well sealed, energy usage is reduced, and therefore utility bills are lower. For most, this will impact heating bills through the winter, but for some, it may also have an impact on summer air conditioning. Additionally, high quality insulation will provide the thermal protection to guarantee indoor comfort. And finally, proper ventilation in the attic must be assured.
Blown Fiber Insulation
Blown fiber insulation is a cost effective approach to insulating attics, roof cavities, and exterior walls. The most popular blown insulation products are available in either cellulose or fiberglass. Both fabrications have similar insulating value, although professionals agree that cellulose has a slightly higher R-Value. As well, cellulose tends to settle over a long period of time, more so than the fiberglass product. Blown fiber (as cellulose or fiberglass) is fire resistant, and will not attract insects or animals, making for an ideal attic insulation install. Most important, however, is to have a professional installation. These are products that require expert application so that that every “nook and cranny” is effectively covered and insulated.
Fiberglass Batt Insulation
Fiberglass batt insulation is a popular insulation option for both attics and walls. The product is made of fine glass fibers that are fabricated into thick pads (batts). Fiberglass batts are designed to be non-combustible; they do not absorb moisture; and they absorb sound. In a cottage, batts are very effective in insulating the attic, the roof cavity, and any exterior walls. Here again, a professional install is highly recommended - a poor installation by an inexperienced installer can actually compromise the R-Value in a very significant way. Furthermore, batt insulation must be installed once the space has been properly air-sealed. Without an airtight space, this product will not perform up to the manufacturer’s assurances.
Spray Foam Insulation
For the unique needs of a cottage, spray foam insulation has proven to be ideal as an air sealer and insulator combined. Spray foam effectively seals roof rafters, wall cavities, and every crack and crevice that might allow air to infiltrate. The product can also be used to weatherproof doors and windows where leaking air is a problem. Most professionals agree that spray foam insulation is superior to other products on the market. With an expert installation, the finished space will benefit in a number of ways: air leakage will be blocked; moisture collection will be prevented; and R-Value will be better than any other application. Spray foam will outperform other products and will not ever require replacement/replenishment.
For cottage owners who are considering insulation, Great Northern Insulation offers an array of products and installations, each designed to deliver the best return-on-investment. The experts at GNI will determine which product/installation will deliver the best long-term outcomes, based on the situation at hand. Importantly, GNI does it right the first time, with high quality products that are manufacturer warrantied, and workmanship that is full guaranteed.
Depending on the budget, Great Northern Insulation can recommend the product application that will be most cost effective. Naturally, the primary aim is to ensure indoor comfort throughout the seasons, but as well, the best installations will improve energy efficiency significantly, and reduce utility costs. Best of all, with a professional install, the longer term savings on winter heating (and summer cooling) will offset the original project cost in a few short years.
Whatever the size of the cottage, insulation work should be left to an expert. Insulation experts have the necessary product knowledge, and understand the nuances of every installation. And like any home improvement, insulation is worth doing right the first time.