Which Type of Insulation is Best for Your Home?
Continuing our series on the science of home building and insulation, today we’re going to talk about the type of insulation that may be best for your home. At EcoStar, we know that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at the range of options available - which type of insulation should you choose? Which insulation will give me the best energy savings? Today we’re going to talk about four common type of insulation to help give you the tools to find the best option for your home and budget.
The key term that the insulation business uses when talking about different types of insulation is R-value. Simply put, this term describes an insulation’s ability to withstand heat transfer - if you think back to our article on How Can Insulation Prevent Heat Loss, insulation helps to prevent heat loss by slowing energy transfer from various hot or cold sources, and R-value is the term we use to describe that. The higher the R-value, the better a product is going to insulate your home.
One type of insulation will have a different R-value from another - but this doesn’t necessarily mean the higher rated product is better. When choosing a type of insulation for your home, the different characteristics of your home and its insulation needs have to be taken into consideration to get the best results.
Four Common Types of Insulation
This is one of the most easily recognizable types of insulation out there. It’s generally constructed out of fibreglass or rock fibres, and it’s excellent for wall cavities, attics, crawlspaces, and ceilings. Both types of batt insulation:
- Offer high insulation value
- Are fire resistant
- Sound absorbent
- Usually made of recycled materials
Batt-style insulations do really well at retaining their R-value over time, which is in part why they’re so commonly used. They’re also very inexpensive and easy to install, and don’t sink or settle after installation. There are differences between fibreglass and rock/slag type batt insulation. On the whole, rock/slag fibres tend to be better at repelling water, which may be useful if you live in a high-moisture environment. They also generally have a higher R-value rating than fibreglass.
Loose Fill Insulation
Loose fill insulation is rapidly becoming a favourite type of insulation among homeowners because of its ease of installation. Loose fill insulation made up of small chunks of either cellulose or glass fibres. It’s typically used in attics and to fill wall cavities, because a small opening is all that’s needed to fill a space - no walls need to come down! Both types of loose fill insulation:
- Have a high R-value rating per inch
- Might settle after installation
- Usually have a high percentage of recycled glass or cellulose material
- Are fire resistant
Loose fill insulations are a great option for irregular spaces where a fast installation might be preferable. If you’re interested in environmentally friendly options, a cellulose based loose fill insulation might be a good option, since it’s usually made of post-consumer paper waste.
Spray Foam Insulation
You may already know that at EcoStar Insulation, spray foam is our favourite type of insulation - and for good reason! Spray foam comes in two kinds of formulations - closed and open cell.
Open cell spray foam will:
- Move and stretch with your home to prevent separation
- Remain flexible, which will help with future renovations or wiring and plumbing changes
- Act as an air barrier
- Absorb moisture
Closed cell spray foam will:
- Set solid and add structural strength to your home
- Give you the highest R-value rating per inch
- Act as an air and moisture barrier
One of the biggest benefits of spray foam insulation is that it offers the best coverage in strangely shaped and hard to reach areas of your home - such as in a peaked and gabled attics or around curves. Spray foam is quick and easy to install, and doesn’t require any additional upkeep or installation materials, like an air barrier. When it comes to long term performance, we work with spray foam because it offers exceptional value in terms of both indoor comfort and your return on investment.
Rigid Board Insulation
Two common types of rigid board insulation are made of extruded polystyrene and expanded polystyrene. This type of insulation is one of the best materials to choose when you need to insulate exterior spaces, like underneath roof sheathing, headers, or under the slab.
Out of all the insulations, rigid board types may be the easiest to install on a practical level, since they’re stiff and won’t bend, sway, or settle. Both types offer 4.5-5.5 R-value per inch ratings and offer extra structural support, as well as being an excellent air and vapor retarder.
Choosing the Right Type of Insulation
Are you still feeling confused or overwhelmed by the many different types of insulation? Choosing which type of insulation you want to add to your home doesn’t mean you have to know everything - the most important thing is to know what you want most for your home. That might be better energy efficiency, greater environmental friendliness, or the basement of your dreams. Whatever your home plans are, at EcoStar Insulation we can help you narrow down your options and offer our expert opinions on what will work best within your budget. Explore our website at www.ecostarinsulation.ca to learn more about our products and services.