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Everything You Need to Know About Home Insulation In 2020

March 12, 2020

everything you need to know about insulation

Here at the GNI offices, we put together this small list that addresses our most frequently asked questions about home insulation. If you would like to start a conversation with us about installing, removing, or upgrading the insulation in your home, please fill out the form below. Once you are in touch with our Customer Experience Team, you can also request a free assessment to help you figure out where to start. 

How Does Insulation Work?

Insulation works like a cocoon that wraps the home in a thermal blanket to prevent energy loss through heat transfer. If it is cold outside, the insulating material in your home keeps you warm for as long as possible by essentially trapping the heated air inside. The opposite is true in the warm summer months - as it keeps your air conditioned interior air cool for as long as possible. Without it your home would be incredibly expensive and difficult to keep comfortable. 

Why Does a Home Need Insulation?

A home needs insulation to keep its residents safe, protected and comfortable from the weather outside. When combined with effective air sealing, a home’s insulation provides many different benefits to the homeowners, such as:

  • A more comfortable living environment
  • Better air quality
  • Lower utility costs
  • Higher home resale value
  • Lower environmental impact
  • Fewer drafts and cold spots

What Type of Insulation Should I Choose in 2020?

There is no single type of insulation that is the best for all purposes. Instead, each type of insulation provides a unique set of benefits capable of being maximized in certain uses. GNI can help you determine which type is the best fit for your needs. To help you get started, we have laid out a brief introduction to each type below.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is a versatile and effective product with an extremely high R-Value for every inch that is applied. It can be used in nearly every part of a home, including rim joists, wall cavities, attics, and basements. Available in both open cell and closed cell variations, an industry professional can help you determine which of these two options would be the best choice for your purposes. Spray foam insulation also offers an air and vapour barrier in addition to its insulative qualities.

Fibreglass Batt Insulation

An affordable and effective option for homeowners looking to make upgrades, fibreglass batt insulation is a common choice for wall insulation. Made using recycled materials, fibreglass batts are flame retardant and can greatly improve a home’s energy performance when professionally installed. They are also versatile, and can be installed in wall cavities, attics, and other areas of the home. They are cut to fit snuggly into any area that requires insulation.

Blown In Insulation

Blown in fibre insulation is capable of providing strong improvements to a home’s level of comfort and energy efficiency. When properly installed, it is able to reduce air pockets in a wall cavity and helps to improve its overall effectiveness. It is also able to be installed using the retrofit drill and fill method. This allows a wall cavity to be insulated without having to tear down the entire outer layer of the wall for access.

What is R-Value?

R-Value is the measurement of how well a material insulates. The higher the R-Value, the better the material will be at keeping the home comfortable and energy efficient. Spray foam provides the highest R-Value for every inch of application, however blown in fibre or fibreglass batts may be a more cost-effective choice for some uses. You should also remember that insulation is about more than just installing insulation.

What is a Thermal Barrier?

A thermal barrier is a fire delaying /  prevention measure. In the case of a fire, the thermal barrier works to slow down the temperature rise in the insulating material of the home. This is a necessary precaution to help keep homeowners safe and protected from potential fire hazards. There are special applications and more common methods, such as drywall.

What is a Vapour Barrier?

The vapour barrier is the part of a home’s wall system that prevents moisture accumulation through vapour diffusion. It works in cooperation with the home’s air barrier system and greatly helps reduce the risk of moisture related issues - such as mould.

What is an Air Barrier?

The air barrier is the part of the wall system in a home that prevents air leakage and controls airflow. When professionally installed and managed, the air barrier and vapour barrier work alongside the home’s insulation to form the building envelope. A well-functioning air barrier is an important part of maintaining home comfort and energy performance.

What is Air Sealing? 

A home’s air sealing works to prevent unwanted air flow and control air leaks. By upgrading your home’s air sealing you can see several improvements, such as:

  • A lower risk of sick building syndrome
  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Lower utility costs
  • Superior home comfort
  • A more consistent temperature on each floor

Blower Door Test

The first step to upgrading your home’s air sealing is to have a professional evaluate where your home leaks its air. This can be done through a blower door test, which locates and identifies the source of every air leak within a home. To arrange to have a blower door test done on your home, please contact our Customer Experience Team at 1-800-265-1914. 

What is Hybrid Insulation? 

Hybrid insulation is when two different types of insulating materials are used in combination with one another. Spray foam is usually mixed with either fibreglass batts or blown in fibre to maximize the benefits of both types. A combination such as this provides optimal air sealing coverage and effective insulation. This can be the most cost-effective approach for certain applications - GNI can help you determine if it is right for you. 

What is Net Zero Home Insulation?

A Net Zero Home requires strong energy performance and on-site renewable resources capable of supplying the home with the same amount of energy that is being used. This means that the insulating material in the home needs to be efficient and effective enough to reach higher levels of energy performance. A building envelope consultant can act as a guide for reaching the necessary requirements of a Net Zero Home.

What is Passive House Insulation?

A Passive House is an extremely energy efficient home with an incredibly high level of air sealing. The insulating material in a Passive House needs to be able to reach the highest extremes of energy performance. This means that R-Value and air sealing are among the most important factors to weigh when choosing the type of insulating material to use. 

DIY Insulation vs Professional Insulation

Although it may be tempting and seem more cost-effective, a DIY insulation install often leaves homeowners with higher maintenance costs and unforeseen problems in the future. With a professional install from GNI, you can also be sure that your upgrades are done in the most cost-effective manner possible. This helps prevent you from over-upgrading certain areas while ignoring the others that may require more attention. 

A DIY install can also be dangerous in some cases, as certain materials can pose a health hazard when disturbed. For this reason alone, we recommend contacting a professional first - before you start undertaking any renovations or upgrades. 

Western Ontario

935 Keyes Drive
Woodstock, Ontario
Canada N4V 1C3

Phone: 1-800-265-1914

Fax: (519) 539-7946
TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

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7035 Industrial Drive
Comber, Ontario
Canada N0P 1J0

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Canada P1P 1R1

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29 Ferndale Industrial Drive
Barrie, Ontario
Canada L4N 9V5

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Port Perry, Ontario
Canada L9L 1B2

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GTA & South Central Ontario

450 Industrial Dr,
Toronto (Milton), Ontario
Canada L9T 5A6

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1035 Moodie Dr #1,
Nepean, ON
K2R 1H4

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259 Campbell Street
Sarnia Ontario
Canada, N7T 2H3

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Niagara Region

6260 Don Murie St
Niagara Falls, ON
L2G 0B4

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914


Great Northern Insulation - Better Business Bureau Profile.


Best of 2017

From reputation to responsiveness, HomeStars consistently ranks Great Northern Insulation at better than 95% for customer satisfaction. Thanks to everyone for the great ratings! 

HomeStars 2018

Best of 2018

For the second year in a row, HomeStars consistently ranks Great Northern Insulation at better than 95% for customer satisfaction. Thank you again to everyone!

Homestars Best of 2019 Award

Best of 2019

For the third year in a row, HomeStars ranked Great Northern Insulation at better than 95% for customer satisfaction.

Homestars Best of 2020 Award

Best of 2020

For four years now, HomeStars has ranked Great Northern Insulation at better than 95% for customer satisfaction.


GNI is the Authorized & Trusted Insulation and Air Sealing Installer for Lowe’s

Enenrgy Savers

Energy Saving

Energy saving and energy efficiency is easier than one might think. Great Northern Insulation helps to identify performance issues, while taking advantage of improvement opportunities.

100% Canadian

100% Canadian

Great Northern Insulation is recognized as Canada's largest full-service insulation contractor. GNI is 100% Canadian owned, proudly serving Ontario customers since 1980.

Foam Masters

Do it right the first time
- with foam mastersTM

WALLTITE® ECO™ is a high-performance system, professionally installed by certified and approved specialists. Its C.C.M.C. approved (Canadian Construction Materials Centre) - with product quality guaranteed - and with installation by highly trained experts with the technical know-how to do the job right, the first time.


Gold Certification promise

GREENGUARD® Gold Certification ensures the strictest criteria for low-level chemical emissions. Certified products are safe for individuals with sensitivities (children/elderly) and safe for use in school environments and health-care facilities. The product certification is widely recognized by the LEED Rating System (Leadership in Energy/Environmental Design).

Insulthane Extreme

Insulthane® Extreme

For the ultimate in high performance spray foam insulation, Insulthane® Extreme is the professional choice for residential, commercial, and industrial application. With improved thermal performance over other products, Insulthane® Extreme has an exceptionally low Global Warming Potential (GWP). Considered environmentally friendly, this next generation spray foam insulation is non-ozone depleting, and exceeds specifications of other HFC product alternatives.


Multi-attribute product certification

ECOLOGOTM is an accredited sign of environmental performance – holistic – green – sustainable - and compliant with strict, third party standards. Life cycle criteria for product certification may include manufacturing and operations; health and environment; product materials and performance; and product innovation, development, and management.


3MTM products.
Quality + Performance = Savings

3MTM energy-saving products are designed to keep warm air in, and cold air out, while keeping energy bills down. Products optimize energy efficiency in buildings and homes; improve indoor environment for occupants; and effect the reduction of seasonal energy costs. 3M products are authorized for LEED credits (Leadership in Energy/Environmental Design).


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Professional, Certified and Insured

Baeumler ApprovedTM gives you peace of mind when connecting with contractors, trades and home service providers. All Baeumler Approved members have demonstrated high quality work for customers and other trade professionals. Members must also have Workers Compensation, liability insurance of at least $1,000,000 and prove professional certification.

Holmes and Holmes

Holmes and Holmes


Mike Holmes and his son Mike Jr. (MJ) convert MJ’s bachelor bungalow into a two-storey home for MJ and his girlfriend Lisa. Choosing the newest materials and build techniques, the father and son team follow Mike’s famous motto – “Make it right.” The show can be watched on HGTV and DIY Network.


Enbridge Incentives

The Energy Conservation Program provides incentives of up to $1,600 to customers who achieve energy efficiency and fuel savings – and Great Northern Insulation can pave the way.


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