How Insulation Acts as an All-in-One Barrier
There are a number of different ways contemporary construction and building sciences help to keep the interior of your home comfortable all year round, and one is by utilizing the ability of insulation as an all in 1 barrier. Every home has a number of different control layers that help to prevent or slow the movement of heat, water, and air in our homes. When choosing insulation as an all in 1 barrier, you can increase your energy efficiency while keeping your home warmer during the winter and cooler in the summer.
Water Control Layer
Each layer of your home works towards keeping a different element in its place; the beauty of using insulation as an all in 1 barrier is that it negates the need to use multiple products, eliminating choices and strengthening your home’s barrier systems through simplification.
There are two elements of water control layers: the above grade layer and below grade layer. Aboveground, the water control layer helps to protect the exterior part of your walls from the effects of wind, rain, snow, and temperature. It keeps water to the outside of your home, which is generally built from materials like concrete, brick, metal, or stone that have better resistance to the detrimental effects of moisture (such as mold growth) and can dry out more quickly than other materials.
Water and moisture are constantly trying to enter your home through:
- Capillary action
- Pressure differences
Insulation as an all in 1 barrier needs to be installed correctly in order to work effectively. It must be:
- Installed towards the exterior of the building
- Be resistant to air flow
- Shed rain or snow
- Able to withstand weather
- Durable during construction and throughout the expected building life
Thermal Control Layer
The obvious benefit of using insulation as an all in 1 barrier is that it provides great thermal protection for your home. Insulation is measured using the term R-Value, which refers to any given insulation’s ability to resist heat flow. Some materials are better than others at slowing down heat flow, making choosing the right materials for your construction project and home an essential part of maintaining an even temperature throughout the year.
Your thermal control layer needs to be:
- Installed within wall cavities on interior OR exterior surfaces
- Be resistant to heat flow (the greater the R-Value, the better it will be at slowing heat loss)
Your thermal control layer works mainly by preventing heat loss through conduction - any walls, floors, or ceilings in your home that separate a heated area from an unheated area (including the garage), need a thermal barrier installed. The thermal control layer isn’t just all about heat either, it also plays a huge role in keeping your home cool during the summer months by keeping heat out and air conditioning from leaking out. Common places that using insulation as an all in 1 barrier are particularly effective when it comes to thermal control are:
- Above and below grade walls
- Overhanging and exposed floors (such as over a porch)
- Shared walls and ceilings of attached garages
Vapour Control Insulation Layers
Controlling moisture and water vapour in your home is probably the most important element that should be considered when it comes to renovations and retrofits. Excess water or humidity in the home can quickly lead to uncomfortable indoor environments, mold and mildew problems, and property and structural damage that is difficult and expensive to fix.
The vapour control layer is one that reduces the vapour diffusion throughout your building envelope, primarily preventing airborne water from moving throughout your home and damaging different components. This layer allows only a specific amount of vapour to pass through, and is generally required to:
- Be installed on the warm side of a separate insulation product
- Be impermeable to vapour diffusion
- Cover as much surface area as possible
- Durable during construction as well as for the expected lifetime of the building
Air Control Layer
The last way that insulation as an all in 1 barrier can help to improve your home is by acting as an air control layer. The air control layer goes both ways: it prevents air from getting into your home, but it also prevents air from getting out. Because air is an effective conductor of both temperature (heat) and moisture (in the form of vapour), it's essential to have an effective air control layer to prevent unwanted elements from infiltrating your building envelope.
The air control layer is your biggest aid in controlling your indoor environment. A good air barrier helps to control indoor temperatures, resulting in less strain on your heating and cooling system during particularly hot or cold times of the year. An air barrier is:
- Installed anywhere in your building envelope
- Must be impermeable to air flow
- Must be continuous, with all seams, edges, gaps, and holes sealed
- Rigid enough to withstand air pressure changes
What You Can Do to Control Your Indoor Temperature More Effectively
As you can see, these different control layers work together to help prevent unwanted temperature loss or changes, water from entering your home in its solid or vaporous state and help to control air movement both in and out of your home. One great advantage that modern homeowners have over previous generations are better materials and tools to help keep their indoor environment safe and comfortable, and choosing insulation as an all in 1 barrier is one such option.
Insulation as an all in 1 barrier is a modern, safe, and effective way to help save money on monthly utility costs, increase your indoor comfort, reduce your energy needs, and protect your home from the detrimental effects of wind, rain, snow, and extreme weather. If you’re interested in learning more about what kind of insulation as an all in 1 barrier products we offer, please get in touch at (647) 799-3106 or www.ecostarinsulation.ca