What are the types of attic insulation at your disposal? What are the pros and cons of each? We’ve gathered all of our experts at Adeedo to run you through all things attic insulation.
But first, what exactly is attic insulation?
Attic insulation is a critical element of thermal engineering. And, if you don’t want to lose the heat you’re paying for in your home and live in arctic conditions, it’s something you, as a residential homeowner, need.
In short, attic insulation is a protective layer that nurtures the heat in your property and prevents it from escaping. As we all know, heat rises, so the insulation acts as the barrier between your property and the outside.
There are many types of attic insulation, and each of them has its pros and cons. So, without further ado, let’s jump into all things attic insulation so you can make the right decision when heat-proofing your home.
1. Fiberglass Batt Insulation
First on our list is fiberglass batt insulation. This, without a doubt, is the most commonly purchased type of attic insulation. It’s the insulation that most would recognize, seeing as it looks like clouds or cotton candy. However, the material is just as dainty, being made up of many tiny glass fibers, which have been produced from sand and recycled material.
The Pros of Fiberglass Batt Insulation
There are many advantages to installing fiberglass batt as your method of attic insulation:
- Due to it being made from sand and recycled material, it’s eco-friendly. The glass that was once sand is a fantastic form of renewable energy. So, you’ll stay warm and save the planet.
- Fiberglass batt insulation is fire-proof. This provides relief for safety-conscious homeowners. That said, it’s best to note that the covering might not be fireproof.
- It won’t collapse easily, and it doesn’t shrink. The air pockets that are created when it’s formed means that it keeps its shape well and stands the test of time.
- Fiberglass batt insulation is easy to install. Some even choose to DIY the job, but we believe it’s best to have a professional ensure it’s safe functioning and cost-efficient.
- Fiberglass batt insulation protects your heat, but it also acts as a great sound barrier, reducing the level of noisy families throughout your home.
The Cons of Fiberglass Batt Insulation
On the other hand, it’s worth considering the disadvantages of fiberglass batt insulation:
- This insulation is made up of tiny slivers of glass. If touched or inhaled, this can be harmful. That’s why it’s coated in a barrier made of vapor. If installing yourself, you’ll need to be careful, wearing masks and gloves. You’ll also need to cover it with boards and refrain from touching it.
- If you have a leak in your roof and the insulation becomes wet, it loses insulation quality, making it ineffective. Condensation can also reduce the impact of fiberglass batt insulation.
- Should the insulation become damp, mold is likely to grow and can even expand throughout the attic.
- Rodents love fiberglass batt insulation. While they won’t eat it, they do consider it a cozy place to nest and rear their young.
- You’ll need at least a thickness of 270mm (on average) to gain sustainable insulation value. That makes it tricky to install a floor in your attic.
2. Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation
Another form of attic insulation that uses fiberglass is blown-in fiberglass insulation. This comes in big bags full of tiny chunks of loose-fill insulation.
The chunks get placed into the bag with a blowing machine, which spreads the chunks to fill all the required spaces.
The Pros of Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation
Is blown-in fiberglass insulation any good? Let’s take a look at the advantages of this method of attic insulation:
- The installation process is much faster than most. Within an hour or two, you could save your heat with this form of attic insulation.
- It’s also cost-friendly. It’ll be incredibly tricky to find another method of attic insulation as cheap as blown-in fiberglass insulation.
- Blown-in fiberglass insulation is perfect for filling in small cracks and tight gaps between wiring, pipes, or any awkward framing.
The Cons of Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation
The advantages of blown-in fiberglass are solid. But what about the disadvantages?
- If the blown-in fiberglass gets wet or damp, it takes a long time to dry out. If it ever does dry out. This can impact the effectiveness of this type of attic insulation and even breed dangerous mold.
- If the insulation does get moldy, it’s a painful process to treat the problem. It all needs to be scooped up, bag by bag, into plastic contractor’s bags, and then dragged downstairs. It’s a long, frustrating process.
3. Blown-In Cellulose
There’s a large variety of materials that can be used for blown-in applications. That said, the most commonly used material is cellulose. This is made up of recycled newspaper, cardboard, and other wood-based material. Boric acid and other substances are applied to make it flame-proof and safe.
The Pros of Blown-In Cellulose Insulation
Wondering if blown-in cellulose insulation is the right attic insulation type for you? Here’s what it has to offer:
- Again, this is eco-friendly. The cellulose is made of recycled material, making it a firm favorite for green families.
- It’s designed for safety. Should a fire break out, the material helps slow the spread.
- The R-Value of blown-in cellulose insulation is 23 percent better per inch than fiberglass batts.
- As it’s blown in, cellulose insulation fills any gaps or cracks surrounding pipes and awkward framing.
- Cellulose is far more resistant to wind-washing.
The Cons of Blown-In Cellulose Insulation
Blown-in cellulose insulation is a great choice to insulate your attic. That said, there are a few drawbacks you need to be aware of:
- Chemical boron, which is used to create boric acid, is currently in short supply. The demand isn’t being met, and the process to make this substance is damaging the planet.
- It can be messy. Batt insulation is neat and tidy, whereas blown-in cellulose insulation can be long-winded and tricky to clean up during renovation.
- Cellulose insulation absorbs moisture like a sponge, spreading damp should there be high condensation levels or a leak in your roof.
4. Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation is an incredibly versatile method of attic insulation. Unlike all other types of attic insulation on our list, spray foam insulation is applied in a liquid state. It grows to the needed thickness and sets in a strong, foam shape, almost like magic.
This creates a barrier that prevents heat from escaping, eliminating the potential for draughts and heat loss.
The Pros of Spray Foam Insulation
Is spray foam insulation worth it? The advantages of spray foam insulation are:
- It’s a high-performing insulation method, both long and short-term.
- It seals airtight with a very high R-value (5.6 – 8.0).
- It even adds further structural strength.
- The energy efficiency of spray foam insulation is fantastic, keeping the heat in and bills low.
- There’s no need to install a vapor barrier when choosing spray foam insulation.
- This type of attic insulation is excellent at filling those awkward spaces.
The Cons of Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation seems like the strongest candidate of attic insulation on our list. But it’s not without its drawbacks:
- Due to increasing popularity and efficiency, demand is rising. This makes the upfront cost higher.
- Spray foam can create water damage if cavities are missed.
- It’s not an attic insulation method you should DIY. Instead, it’s highly recommended that you hire a professional to install spray foam insulation, meaning you’ll pay an installation fee.
- You’ll need to stay away from the foam. If inhaled or if the foam comes into contact with your skin, there could be a reaction of inflammation, swelling, and rashes. It’s vital to wear goggles, gloves, and a respirator when installing and being around the foam.