2. Spray Foam
3. Blow in Blanket
4. Rigid Board
5. Mineral Wool
Insulation has various types and uses in a building or home. Some types are more suitable for new construction or unfinished spaces, while others are easier to use for people interested in doing home remodeling projects themselves. Consider the following when selecting the best insulation for San Francisco Bay Area homes.
What does R Value mean for Insulation?
The R-value measures the resistance of a two-dimensional barrier, such as insulation, to the flow of heat. A higher R-value means better insulation. However, higher R-values typically cost more. R-values can range from R10 for some flooring to R60 for dense attic insulation. It’s important to note that the assigned R-value represents the heat resistance per inch of depth. Therefore, using more of a lower R-value material can provide comparable insulation properties as a higher R-value material. For instance, one inch of R60 insulation is equivalent to two inches of R30 insulation. Understanding R-values is crucial to determining the best insulation for your home or building. A professional insulation contractor can help you determine the best type and amount of insulation to ensure your home is energy-efficient and comfortable.
One of the most common types of insulation is Spray Foam. You primarily use this type of insulation to seal leaks and gaps inside existing walls. You spray liquid polyurethane into the wall cavity, and it then expands and hardens into solid foam. Spray foam comes in two constructions: open-cell foam or denser closed-cell foam. Closed-cell foam has one of the highest R-values of any insulation, around R-6.2 per inch, but it can be expensive. Open-cell foam insulation values are around R-3.7 per inch of thickness. When choosing spray foam to increase the R-value of a home’s insulation, consider calling a professional to do the job such as Home Stewards., Installation can be trickier than simply aiming and spraying.
One of the top choices for many homeowners and general contractors in Sonoma
County is fiberglass. It offers cost-effective insulation that maintains its shape over time
and provides acoustic dampening. Fiberglass insulation is also fairly easy to install in a
variety of spaces. It comes in batt form or as a loose-fill material, and offers a high R-value or (thermal insulation). Types of fiberglass insulation include: encapsulated, foil faced, un-faced and blown-in. Another large benefit to using Fiberglass is that it tends to keep its structure and resists moisture and mold to help preserve your home’s walls.
Blown-in insulation is a commonly used type that applies by blowing a paper-like material into the space that needs insulation using a machine. It’s often made from materials like fiberglass, rock wool, or reclaimed cellulose material such as recycled newspapers or cardboard. This type of insulation conforms to fit nearly any location, even the toughest spots. Blown-in insulation has R-values ranging from R-2.2 for fiberglass to R-3.8 for dense cellulose. If you’re up for a simple insulation job, you can rent the blower from a local home improvement store. However, for best results, it’s worth considering calling a professional. Home Stewards is a team of professionals that you can count on if you need a professional in Marin and Sonoma Counties. In summary, you should use blow-in insulation to add insulation to horizontal areas or hard-to-reach, oddly shaped spots.
Another type of insulation is Foam Board. There are a number of different uses such as
insulating a floor or an unvented low-slope roof. However, foam boards work well to insulate everything from foundation walls and basement walls to unfinished floors and ceilings. Foam boards and rigid foam panels can also be beneficial at reducing the amount of heat conducted through wood, wall studs, and other elements that make up a homes structure.
Many homeowners rely on this type of insulation for their home. Manufacturers usually make foam board from polyurethane, polystyrene, or polyisocyanurate, and it serves as part of both exterior and interior wall sheathing. R-values typically vary between R-4 and R-6.5 per inch of thickness. With that said, foam boards and rigid foam panels reduce energy consumption better than many other types of insulation on the market. You should use foam board for unfinished walls such as foundation walls and basement walls, floors, and ceilings. Despite it’s amazing air-sealing and R-Value, many are concerned about flame retardants in foam insulation.
Manufacturers make mineral wool, also known as “rock wool,” from recycled industrial materials. These materials include rock and furnace slag which create superior thermal and acoustic insulation properties. The types of mineral wool include: batt, blown-in, or board. An interesting fact or benefit to using mineral wool is it’s naturally resistant to flames. It’s also unique because it offers sound insulation with a relatively high R-value.
Reflective insulation reflects escaping heat back in the direction of your home’s interior. By harnessing the loss of heat, in return it lowers your heating bills. During the
summer months, it reflects the heat away from your home to lower your AC bills. You can install reflective insulation in the attic ceiling to reflect sunlight and reduce the radiant heat transfer from the underside of the roof to other surfaces in the attic. This helps keep your home cooler and more comfortable. You can also use radiant barrier materials around HVAC components and conductive pipes to create a more enclosed and efficient energy system.
Insulation plays its part by reducing the need for natural gas, propane, fuel oil, and electricity to heat and cool buildings. It also benefits the environment by reducing emissions of pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide, among others. Many of the environmental benefits of insulation are obvious. Insulation in a home or building reduces energy use, which in turn cuts down on pollution and water use that power generation requires.
While all insulation types generally reduce energy consumption. There are specific insulation types that can impact the environment differently in other ways. For example, fiberglass, mineral wool & cellulose all have the ability to recycle or reuse materials, however spray foam does not. Below are some of the factors that determine how environmentally friendly and energy efficient insulation is.
– Impact of insulation production
– Percentage of recycled content
– Reusability or recyclability
There are many different factors to keep in mind when working with different types of insulation. The first to consider is that some insulators such as fiberglass batts, blown-in insulation, and spray foam can irritate skin and airways, and they can cause other health concerns. You need proper ventilation and personal protective equipment for your eyes, hands, skin, and respiratory system for this reason. It’s also extremely important and absolutely necessary to have a safe installation procedure during installation. Replacing insulation in older homes could also put homeowners looking to take on the job themselves in direct contact with asbestos or lead paint. Another factor to consider is air quality. While this product is fire retardant and does a decent job of insulating the home, its fibers are very dangerous if inhaled.
Homeowners with older homes or damaged insulation should call a professional to ensure that insulation particulates are not spreading throughout the home. If you have indoor air quality concerns or need an Industrial Hygienist to inspect your home in the San Francisco Bay Area, Healthy Building Science provides extensive indoor air quality inspections & testing.