Winter Is Near! What About Your Insulation? Which Way To Go?

We, humans, have being using insulation for generations. At first, we used natural materials because they were the only thing to use at the time. Natural materials form the cheapest of insulation. It’s not difficult to guess that at one time people would have used items like grass and straw in their clothing for staying warm. These days insulation finds many different uses. Apart from being used in clothing and household effects like thermoses and coolers, it’s also used for commercial and residential buildings. Technological developments led to developments in the field of insulation and even space shuttles, space stations and rocket capsules use specific types of insulation.

Different types of insulation of varying properties and prices are available for homes. The cheapest variety of insulation is usually inappropriate for human use as it may cause irritation to lungs and skin. It’s better to negotiate the prices and buy a quality product. You get rigid foam insulation boards in 4×8 feet or 2×8 feet sizes. These are available in varying thicknesses of different R value for being used in different ways. Such insulation boards are long lasting and weather resistant too. These can ideally be used for basement walls and foundation vent covers during winters. There are many manufacturers for this product that you may have in different colors like blue, green and pink.

We also have foil backed insulation board comprising of rigid foam that is gas charged to increase its R value. It is offered with thin sheets of foil of either side and finds wide application in pole barn buildings to get enhanced lighting and insulation. This is also available in varying thicknesses having diverse R values. Being weather resistant, it can be used for insulation of pump houses.

Perhaps, the cheapest board insulation comes by way of Styrofoam boards. It effectively insulates garage door panels and shed walls. Though it may be used for garage walls, its R value is quite low. Some homeowners use its cut pieces of 2×4 feet for ceiling tiles. Though it makes for a cheap ceiling, its cleaning is very tedious.

Roll insulation is available in different thicknesses and widths. Most house walls are made using 2×4 or 2×6 wall studs. Generally, these are framed with boards keeping a distance of sixteen inches from the center. Wider boards are needed for ceilings and floors and are kept further apart, usually twenty-four inches from center. This kind of insulation has a paper face on one side. It’s used as a vapor barrier and also for insulation. Care should be taken to avoid getting it wet, lest it loses its insulating characteristics.

Then, we also have blow-in type of insulation. This insulation comprising of cellulose or fiber glass is blown into the walls and attics with help of appropriate blowing machines. The cellulosic variety causes a lot of dust when blown but expected to deliver better results on getting cold. The fiber glass variety is easily blown and causes no mess. Cellulose variety is economical of the two and despite the limitation already stated, it proves better in the long run. Bothe the types come with charts enabling you to determine the footage needed for getting the required value of R.

Irrespective of the type of insulation you may opt to use, you’ll save on your energy bills. There are other ways too to save energy expense. The simplest one is to switch off the lights when not needed. If you dress warmer in winters, you’ll need to turn down the thermostat and thus save on consumption of energy. You can buy a guide to help you install insulation. That will help you save substantially on cost of labor.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Foam Insulation

Its easy application makes spray foam insulation a preferred medium for modern day insulation as compared to fiber glass insulation. It’s important to understand the benefits and disadvantages of foam insulation before one starts using it. The effectiveness of insulation employed has a direct bearing on the cost of heating or cooling your home.

It is estimated that internal heating and cooling of your home results to forty percent of your energy cost. Going by the findings of a government survey, a normal US household incurs an expense of about $659 per annum towards its heating and cooling. Employing an appropriate insulation can help to cut down on that expense. Investing few hundred dollars is worthwhile in helping to cut the heating and cooling expense by thirty to forty percent. The pros and cons of using any kind of insulation should not be ignored while choosing an appropriate insulation for your home. The type of chosen insulation can affect the quality of air inside the house. Another factor that can’t be ignored is the environmental effect of disposing the insulation after its use. The thermal efficiency of an insulating material is measured in terms of its R value. The higher the value of R, the better is the insulation offered by the material.

What Foam Insulation Actually Is?

Before going into the merits and demerits of foam insulation, let’s first know what foam insulation is and how it is to be used. Foam insulation is available in the form of spray guns which help to fill the gaps and crevices. After the liquid chemical has been sprayed into the gaps it expands to seal the cavities and thus provides an effective insulation. These chemicals derived from foaming agents and polymers get inflated in the form of foam that is almost a hundred times as large as the original size and subsequently gets dried out as a heap of polymer bubbles.

There are many types of spray foam insulation. The expanding spray foam that is most often used is spray polyurethane foam and derived from polyiso and polyol resin, though at times it is based on soya to some extent. It provides effective insulation to ceiling and walls. It acts as a barrier, preventing heat to escape from the room and thus maintaining the temperature of the room.

Foam Insulation Advantages

Fiber glass insulation leaves some gaps and cracks, making it easy for heat to escape. On the other hand, spray foam insulation expands on entering the cracks and adequately seals the same. Therefore, the quality of resultant insulation is far better. Moreover, this kind of insulation prevents moisture from getting built up and reduces the formation of mold and mildew. On getting hardened it prevents invasion by insects that could hideaway in the walls. Another helpful feature of spray foam is that it works as a very good adhesive thus enhancing the strength of the building structure.

Foam Insulation Disadvantages

Despite all its advantages, foam insulation has some drawbacks too. Compared to other types of insulations it’ is more expensive. It should not be exposed to direct sunlight and certain solvents. People allergic to foam insulation may develop health issues on coming in direct contact with it. Moreover, foam releases toxic fumes when set to fire. Some varieties of foam insulation also release green house gases.
Hopefully, you’ll find the above information of help in deciding the kind of insulation to be used. It will be befitting to primarily use the traditional eco friendly insulating materials, restricting the use of spray foam insulation for filling in the gaps and cracks.

Rigid Foam Board Insulation And Fiberglass

Because it has a high R-value, rigid foam board insulation is among the most efficient insulation arrangement. It comprises of boards obtained by using different processes of synthesizing. These boards offer a very practical and quick solution, especially when the area is very large, which makes spray foam insulation a very cumbersome and time consuming process. Foam board insulation is used for insulating walls, roofs, foundations and tanks etc.

Types of Rigid Foam Boards

There are many types of rigid foam board insulation, classified as per their chemical composition and process of their synthesis. The common examples include: molded expanded polystyrene foam board, polyiso or polyisocyanurate foam and polyurethane foam. Bead boards are the same as molded expanded foam, but cut into boards from a closed cell expanded mass of pentane together with beads. For roofs, bead boards are usually denser, compared to the ones employed in walls for resisting higher-pressure.

Wherever it is desirable to have high levels of compressibility and strength, polyurethane foam boards are preferred. These are best employed in places with high variation of temperature. Polyiso is also closed cell foam that has high thermal résistance. It needs stabilization of R-value, which becomes low due to thermal drift.

Polyurethane foam provides the highest R-value with 7-8 per inch of thickness, whereas polyiso foam offers approximately 6-7 but molded expanded boards provide only3-4. Their R-value goes down with time. However, you can overcome this by having the board in combination with reflecting foils and metal or plaster bonding. Though we also get polyurethane in liquid form that can be sprayed, boards are more fitting when the area to be insulated is quite large.

Rigid Foam Installation

What makes this kind of rigid board insulation extremely popular is the ease of its installation. Unlike the sheets, it needs no stapling. Usually, nails or glue are enough to keep the boards secured. So, you can do it yourself and save on labor expense. However, it’s important to ensure that this kind of insulation is not exposed to direct sun. You will also need to use moisture diffusion material while using the rigid foam board insulation for keeping out insects and mold as a result of humidity.

Attic Insulation Saves Energy

Taking some preventive measures, homeowners could save money, while making their contribution to saving environments and get prolonged service from HVAC system.

Measures and procedures are quite many and vary from using appropriate variety of building materials to selection of efficient domestic appliances. Though most owners of present houses can’t really have much control over many of the factors, they can yet carry significant modifications without investing huge sums of money.

Two most important areas that homeowners certainly have control over are insulation and sealing. Air leaking from the house or entering the house causes similar effects.

Controlling Air Leaks

Open windows and doors along with small crevices and opening facilitate entry of outside air into the house. While keeping the windows and doors closed is more of a behavioral subject, sealing of areas around other outlets like jambs is practically an easier way to block the outside air from entering the house. Sealing is imperative for maintaining internal temperature and humidity at comfortable levels.

Maintaining Proper Air Flow

Good ventilation is a part of airflow, quality of indoor air and moisture control. Forced purposeful movement of air brought around using exhaust fan, whole-house fans, or ductwork checks unnecessary build-up.


During winters, hot air, needed to keep you warm, continues to move to cooler areas within the room. These areas could be walls, ceiling, floor and outdoors too. As a result you continue to lose heat, causing strain on HVAC system to maintain the inside temperature. In summers it’s reverse with hot air coming in to warm up your cold room and once again the HAVC needs to work harder. Apart from increased energy bills, this leakage of air adversely affects the life of your heating and cooling system.

Insulation restricts the flow of heat. It slows down the movement of warm air wanting to escape to a cooler area. Many insulating materials, like fiber, blanket and foam can be used for attic insulation. Another new technique known as reflective insulation or radiation barrier is frequently employed in association with blanket insulation. Having reflective foil on the floors restricts the flow of radiant heat that gets reflected back to the point of its origin, and thus can’t escape to cooler areas. Simply put it means that in winters the heated area will maintain comfortable level of temperature for long as there won’t be much loss of warm air. Likewise, in summer the living area will retain its cool, as external hot air is unable to enter the room.

Such simple changes that aren’t too expensive to implement make your life more comfortable at reduced energy expense!

How And Where To Use Rigid Foam Insulation

The rigid foam board insulation comes in three types, namely: polystyrene, polyisocyanurate and polyurethane. Each comes with its own specific properties which make them each suitable for specific applications. Here are uses of the different types and also the precautions you should be taking while using those.

First of all let’s take polystyrene. This kind of insulation requires profound heat and pressure to cast into shape. It is the ideal material for insulation of walls and installing in the attic. Though more costly than the other two kinds, it’s characteristically a lot stronger and durable than the other two.

Bead board is the second type of rigid foam insulation. It is produced in such a manner that bead expands to fit the space, giving a better insulated area. This type of insulation is generally used in day to day common products. Because of the bead spacing moisture gets absorbed.

The third type of insulation comprises of polyisocyanurate and polyiso foam boards. This is a very tough and durable material that can withstand extreme temperatures, making it ideal for installing attic insulation. It provides a fantastic moisture barrier when applied in conjunction with aluminum foil facing.

However, there are a couple of points you should be aware of before venturing into handling of rigid foam insulation. We’ll start with the flame retarder. This item takes a lot to set fire to but once it does, it burns steady. It also smolders for a while. Safety regulations necessitate your using flame resistant material like dry wall, panel, or gypsum wall board above the insulation.

Direct sunlight causes it to deteriorate. So, when installing attic insulation it needs to be protected by using acrylic silicone, roofing felt, rubberized paint asphalt, or tar. This kind of insulation is a favorite of bugs that make nests therein. So, while insulating basement or floors you’ll be better off by using insecticide treated insulation. Also, keeping the insulation in the interior discourages bugs. Rigid foam insulation absorbs water vapors from the atmosphere and retains moisture.

The above could simply lead to mold formation and damage wood. To overcome this problem you need to employ a vapor diffusion retarder, particularly when installing attic insulation. From the given three kinds of insulation i.e. loose fill, batt and blanket, and rigid foam board insulation, this involves minimum initial cost. Though it’s found useful for many kinds of applications, this item could be counter productive if not installed the right manner or on ignoring the safety precautions. It’s imperative that you carefully read safety precautions and check the local building code regulations before getting started with installation of this material.

Elementary On Rigid Insulation

One way of ensuring that the temperature within the room remains nearly constant is to have rigid foam insulation on ceiling. It allows to keep the inside temperature at almost a constant level during winters as well summers. That means you are able to enjoy a cool house during summers while it remain cozy during winters. The quantity of rigid foam insulation depends on the amount of heating you like to have in a room.

Though the comfort level may slightly vary with the individual, it is not advisable to have too much heating in the room. You need to consider a few things when thinking on the lines of installing this kind of insulation. You should be clear in your mind as to what are your expectations of this type of insulation. Some of the these are quite expensive and there are others that are reasonably priced and you also get another variety that is considered to be environment friendly. In either case, you have to look at this type of insulation as an investment which pays for itself in a couple of years.

Not so long ago, it was believed that the roof should be ventilated for the rigid foam insulation to remain in place, but now it has been realized and proven that ventilation I primarily needed to keep away mold. It is understandable that the better the airflow, the thicker the ventilation. As closed cell foam develops its own airflow, it would be better suited for the purpose of maintaining a strong ventilation in place.

Polyurethane is the main content of rigid foam, which is very durable and you can trust it for that feature. Though polyurethane is recognized to be tough as steel, it remains as flexible as rubber. You should also know a few other basics if you are wondering how to install this foam on a ceiling. All types of rigid foam insulating materials are expensive, but look at it as a long term investment that not only helps you save money but also the environments.

There are three types of foams used for insulation namely, polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane. The method of insulation needs consideration because there are quite a few ways which allow you achieve the purpose, but you have to choose the best possible option. Rigid insulation is mostly installed in the attic, the area on top of the ceiling, and there are two ways, liquid or a foam board.