There are several types of
insulation, however the prevalent types used in homes are batt and blanket
insulation, rigid foam insulation, blown cellulose fiber insulation and sprayed
foam insulation. Each has different R-values due to the fact that they are
manufactured out of different types of materials.
Batt and Blanket Insulation
Batt insulation, or blanket insulation is
typically made from pink fiberglass or yellow looking rockwool material and is
used prevalently in walls, attics and between floors. Their R-value is
approximately 3.14 to 4.0 per inch, respectively. This type of insulation is
slid into place between wall studs and ceiling and floor joists and stapled into
place. Some types come with a paper facing, others do not. Blanket insulation
typically comes in long rolls that can be cut to length, whereas batt insulation
comes in many 4 or 8 foot lengths per bundle.
Rigid Foam Insulation R-values
Rigid foam insulation is typically
used on exterior sheathing or around foundation walls. It is also used in
basements between furring strips attached to concrete walls. Typically rigid
foam insulation has an R-value of 4.4 per inch.
Spray Foam Insulation R-values
Spray foam insulation is used in
homes between wall studs and floor joists, and in ceilings. It is typically
installed by a professional as it requires some sophisticated equipment. The two
part liquid polymer is sprayed from a nozzle into walls, floors and ceilings.
As it is sprayed it rapidly expands to fill the cavity. When used in between
wall studs on new home construction, after it has been sprayed and expanded, it
is then trimmed to the wall thickness using a saw. Spray foam insulation is
ideal for older existing homes, as small holes can be drilled in between the
wall studs, and the insulation sprayed in. The R-value of spray foam insulation
is approximately 3.7 per inch.
Blown Cellulose Fiber Insulation
Blown cellulose fiber insulation is
made from chemically treated recycled newspapers. The chemicals help to ensure
the insulation material is fire retardant and moisture resistant. Cellulose
fiber insulation has an R-value of approximately 3.5. Though it can be used in
walls, attics and between floors, it is ideally suited for hard to reach places,
such as attics. It is great for filling in between cracks and otherwise hard to
insulate places. Typically a professional needs to install this type of
insulation as it requires some special equipment for blowing it into place.
Overall blown cellulose fiber insulation costs a little more than batt or
blanket insulation, however it has a better R-value and more tightly seals hard
to insulate areas.
Use the Correct R-Value for Your
It is important to use the correct
insulation R-values in specific areas of the home, for your region of the
country. The U.S. Department of Energy has published guidelines for the
recommended R-values for each region of the country. (See below). It is
important when buying a home to make sure that the building contractor has
insulated the home using these recommend R-values for your area.
U.S. Department of
Energy Recommended* Total R-Values for New Houses in Six Climate Zones
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