There are many, many choices when it comes to the type of insulation used in constructing or remodeling a home or building. Here are some details about each type and their respective pros and cons.
• Fiberglass insulation. Long a popular choice for home and building insulation, fiberglass is an effective and relatively inexpensive method of insulation. Made of tiny fibers of glass packed together into a soft blanket, fiberglass has been around since 1932. It is an attractive choice for homes because it is not a fire hazard. Fiberglass insulation is most commonly installed batts (a blanket of fiberglass attached to a paper or foil backing) that are then stapled into place. The R-value (resistance to heat flow) per one inch is rated at R3.1-3.4. Thicker batts offer higher R-value and some can be rated as high as R38 for ceiling insulation. Fiberglass can be dangerous when touched, as the fine glass particles may lodge into pores of the skin and cause an itchy rash. When disturbed, fiberglass releases tiny particles into the air that can damage the lungs.
• Cellulose insulation – Cellulose is a great alternative to fiberglass insulation, as it does not pose the skin and lung irritation risks that fiberglass does. However, it is not fire resistant on its own and must be chemically treated to achieve this characteristic. It is also chemically treated to resist rodents and insects. Cellulose offers an R-value of 3.5 per inch of insulation thickness. For comparison, one inch of solid wood has an R-value of 1. Blown cellulose can be applied as thickly as the homeowner wishes, so its overall R-value can be much greater. Cellulose is made of 80% recycled newspaper, which makes it a very “green” alternative. It does absorb moisture, though, so a leaky roof could lead to mold problems, and the chemicals used to prevent fire can become corrosive when wet.
• Closed-cell Spray Foam insulation – SPF (short for spray foam insulation) is a very strong insulator when it comes to R-value ratings. One inch thickness provides a rating of R6.0-6.5, making it the best insulator in this category. Because it dries to a solid state, bugs and pests cannot make nests in it. The chemicals used to produce SPF can be toxic, so it is important to have it professionally installed and then to stay out of the area for several days after installation. Although a bit more expensive, it is by far the best insulator because it expands to fill in all of the cracks and gaps which are responsible for approximately one-third of an average home’s heat loss. It is fire resistant by nature, will adhere to almost any surface, and does not absorb moisture.
The experts at Energy Assault Solutions can visit your home or building and provide an insulation recommendation specifically for you.