What Is The Best House Insulation?
There are basically six different types of insulation used in the housing market today. We’ve got closed cell insulation, open cell, then you have a cellulose, paper faced fiberglass insulation, rock wool, and your standard unfaced fiberglass batts.
Now I typically use about three of these on my projects. But we are seeing a bit of variation as we are building differently and creating more energy efficient homes.
Let’s walk through each type of insulation and talk about the R-value and the pros and cons and what kind of standouts for any of these types of insulation.
It’s not uncommon to see a mix of all these products at various stages of the construction process, these days, the closed cell foam is definitely at the higher end of your insulation spectrum.
Closed Cell Foam
You’ve got the highest, R-values per inch coming at 7.2 and we can customize that, depending on the demands for the project, common applications are below slab foundation. Walls, retrofitting existing buildings, where we’ve got limited depths and we need to achieve higher R-values and in mixed applications and roof lines where we get the structural integrity, vapor barrier and an increase in closed cell at that base. and then we make up the rest with some of the other forms of insulation coming down the line.
Open Cell Foam
Then we have our open cell foam. It still has a high R-value of four per inch if using a three quarter: pound density foam so a little denser than a traditional half pound open cell foam. Four per inch this in a full two by six cavity that’s going to have you at about R-22. It still provides an excellent air barrier, a little different than the closed cell foam.
Open doesn’t have the integrated, vapor barrier technology built into it, so that’s why a lot of times they’re used in conjunction with one another.
Dense Packed Cellulose
Next we have dense packed cellulose application in new construction. It’s blown in behind the netting. There is lot of interest in this and some of the ultra green building communities, largely due to its high recycle contents, 99 % recycled newspaper – but it does not provide a vapor barrier or air barrier. So some that you will see in use with something like a smart membrane or poly over the top.
Then there is your run-of-the-mill craft faced fiberglass insulation. You know the old tried and true, been around for a long time in the building industry gets us where we need to be with an R-value, does not have any air barrier qualities. The craft facing does provide a vapor barrier, though not like todays smart membranes which are used for moisture management. This would be somewhat of a dumb membrane in that it just provides a moisture block in both directions. Doesn’t really manage moisture it just stops it.
Unfaced fiberglass insulation like your craft face has a lot of popularity as an R-value installation option as well. They both tend to be at the lower end of the price range, so you can hit your code standards at a cheaper price.
Blown (Loose Fill) Fiberglass
Like batt fiberglass, blown-in insulation has great R-value while staying on the lower end cost wise. The advantage blown in has is it is easy to install and can fill cavities that are hard to do with batts. It can be blown into depths that will help reduce heat loss and save money.
Mineral wool functions similarly to the fiberglass, in that it doesn’t, provide the air barrier or vapor barrier qualities, but it does have some interesting attributes just as part of the manufacturing process. It’s naturally fire resistant and water resistant. It does install a little bit cleaner and little bit nicer. It has a higher density than the fiberglass which allows it to compress, but then because of it’s flexibility expands back into place, and you end up with a much tighter seal around the edges of the product. Because of its density, it has a slightly higher R-value in the same depth as fiberglass or cellulose.