What Are the 4 Types of Attic Insulation?
Keeping your home warm is likely high up on your priority list. You don’t want to be paying thousands of dollars for your energy if it’s not remaining warm after it’s been switched off, however.
If you notice that you need to keep your heating on more than it’s off, and that the heat it provides evaporates shortly after being switched off, there’s a good chance that your attic insulation isn’t working for you.
Another indication is that your heating bills are sky high, and your house isn’t warm.
When you turn your heating on, the heat in your property rises to your attic. Without solid insulation, this heat runs out of your roof. At this point, you might as well be throwing hundreds of dollars out of your window.
So, clearly attic insulation is a must-have.
But how are you meant to choose which type of attic insulation to install? What are the advantages and disadvantages of them?
This article will help you make an informed decision by explaining the 4 types of attic insulation, what they can offer you, and their drawbacks.
Fiberglass Batt Insulation
When you hear the word “insulation,” you often picture rolls filled with cotton-candy like material. That association is fiberglass batt insulation, and it’s the most common type of attic insulation around.
Fiberglass is made from tiny glass fibers. Before being formed into glass, it was originally sand and recycled material.
The glass fibers are then installed into batts, which are large sheets, rolled up and glued together with vapor.
The Advantages of Fiberglass Batt Insulation
There are clear reasons why fiberglass batt insulation is the most used attic insulation out there. Here are the advantages:
- The fiberglass itself is an eco-friendly form of renewable energy. The material is made from sand, which is then formed into glass.
- The vapor that is used helps flame-proof the insulation.
- Fiberglass batt insulation doesn’t easily shrink or collapse.
- It’s easy to install fiberglass batt insulation. Many homeowners choose to install it themselves. This eliminates the need to pay for installation fees.
- The material acts as both a heat-barrier and a sound-barrier.
The Disadvantages of Fiberglass Batt Insulation
What are the cons of choosing fiberglass batt insulation?:
- There is a risk of injury from multiple elements of this type of attic insulation. Though it’s tiny slivers of glass, it can still pose a threat of an injury.
- The vapor that’s used as glue is a harmful chemical which can be dangerous if inhaled or touched. If you choose to install this yourself without the help of a professional, you must wear gloves and a mask for your own safety.
- If the fiberglass is exposed to any moisture, it will absorb it, which makes it ineffective. It also takes an extortionately long time to dry out again. A leaky roof is enough to take the attic insulation out of action.
- This moisture absorption can also cause mold, which is a health concern.
- Rodents enjoy fiberglass batt insulation and set up a home inside them. As such, you’re increasing your chances of a rodent infestation.
Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation
Blown-in fiberglass insulation uses the same material as fiberglass batt insulation. However, the way it’s distributed differs.
The fiberglass is made from tiny slivers of glass, but it’s not rolled into batts. Instead, it’s blown into the attic to fill the space with a blowing machine.
This tweak in distribution could save you up to 35 percent on your heating bills, as it’s far more effective at filling small gaps and holes.
The Advantages of Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation
Is blown-in fiberglass the best attic insulation type for you? Here’s the benefits of blown-in fiberglass insulation:
- Blown-in fiberglass is a highly energy efficient method of insulation. This keeps your home warm, the planet greener, and your bank account fuller.
- Using the blown-in method reduces any open gaps or cracks, ensuring the heat stays in.
- Unlike having fiberglass batts installed, the blown-in approach allows your insulation to be up and running in a few hours rather than a few days.
- Blown-in fiberglass insulation improves the air quality in your home. This is particularly beneficial to those who suffer with allergies.
The Disadvantages of Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation
To know whether blown-in fiberglass is the right insulation solution for you, you must also be aware of the disadvantages:
- Ultimately, whether it’s blown in or installed in the form of batts, fiberglass can pose a risk of injury. It’s even sold with a health warning, explaining that it could be harmful if not used properly and with care.
- When the insulation settles, it’s proven that the R-Value falls. In the long-run, it’s not as effective as other types of attic insulation on our list.
- If the fiberglass gets damp, it can grow mold.
- Getting rid of it and replacing it can be painful, as it’s not tied up in neat batts. Instead, you’ll need to wear gloves and pick it all up, bit by bit. While it is quick to install, cleaning it up takes a considerably long time.
Another type of attic insulation is blown-in cellulose. This follows the same distribution method as blown-in fiberglass, whereby the material is blown into the attic to fill the space.
The difference, this time, lies in the material. Cellulose is made from fully recycled material, like newspapers, wood-based materials, and cardboard. It’s then treated with boric acid and other substances for fire-proofing.
Then, as with fiberglass insulation, it’s blown into the attic to prevent heat from escaping.
The Advantages of Blown-In Cellulose Insulation
Blown-in cellulose is a solid type of attic insulation. Here are the advantages:
- For the most part, this is a relatively eco-friendly method. Cellulose itself is made up of totally recycled products.
- Boric acid and other chemicals combine to fire-proof the insulation.
- There’s a clear improvement in R-Value, being better than fiberglass batts by 23 percent.
- Cellulose insulation helps to reduce wind-washing.
The Disadvantages of Blown-In Cellulose Insulation
Is blown-in cellulose the right type of attic insulation for you? Here are the cons of blown-in cellulose:
- Despite cellulose itself being eco-friendly, the chemicals that are added in the final stages of production are actually harmful to the planet. There are only 3 mines that will mine the chemical boron, which is required to create boric acid. This process has a negative impact on the planet.
- Again, this can be a messy procedure to clean up should you want to renovate your home or inspect for mold.
- And, again, cellulose also doesn’t mix well with liquid. If it becomes damp, it can produce mold quickly, and it’s not a quick-fix.
Spray Foam Insulation
Finally, our forth type of attic insulation is spray foam insulation.
This is gaining more and more popularity, which is due to its many benefits.
Contrasting all the other attic insulation types on our list, spray foam insulation is the only one that comes as a liquid.
Once it’s sprayed, it broadens in thickness, before setting as a rigid foam. The foam fills any gaps, cracks, or awkward framing, blocking any escape routes for your heating and closing the door on cold air.
The Advantages of Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation is a great choice for your attic insulation. Here are the reasons why:
- Unlike other forms of attic insulation, spray foam insulation doesn’t wilt over time. It continues to be high-performing after it settles, making it a great choice in the short and long term.
- Spray foam insulation has a fantastic R-Value of between 5.6 and 8.0
- The foam can add structure to your property.
- It’s impressively energy efficient.
- There’s no vapor barrier.
The Disadvantages of Spray Foam Insulation
While spray foam insulation is a fantastic choice, it’s not entirely perfect. Here are the disadvantages to using spray foam as your attic insulation:
- The upfront cost is higher than other types of attic insulation. That said, bear in mind that it’s brilliant for energy efficiency. If it doesn’t balance itself out, it’ll likely be cheaper to run in the long-term.
- Should any gaps be missed during the installation process, the spray foam can cause, or add to, extensive water damage. This can be an expensive problem to rectify and be a massive source of stress.
- Due to this, it’s best to have a professional install spray foam insulation, which adds to the upfront cost.
- The chemicals within the foam are dangerous, and, if they come into physical contact with your skin, they can cause swelling, skin reactions, and inflammation. You’ll need to wear goggles, gloves, and a respirator whenever you’re near the foam.