March 1st, 2016

Insulating your attic is a great way to improve your heating system’s effectiveness. It’s a simple process and therefore many homeowners opt to climb into the attic and attempt the insulation process themselves.

man-laying-pic

Before you rush upstairs and get started, though, there are some key things to consider. Mainly, you need to decide upon the insulation that is best for you. We’ve collected some tips for you to help you make that call.

R-Value

The first thing you have to do is determine the amount of R-Value your home needs. R-value measures how resistant a material is to heat flow. With a higher R-value, the insulation will be more efficient.

The amount of R-value you need will depend on your home, but we usually recommend to have around a total of R60.

Materials

Next up you’ll need to think about the type of material you want to use for your insulation. If you already have insulation in your attic, the material of this doesn’t matter (unless, of course, it’s asbestos. If it is asbestos, you’ll need to consult an asbestos expert).

There are advantages and disadvantages to each material. Here are the most common materials used and a bit of information about each:

  • Fiberglass – Fiberglass is made of ultra-fine glass fibers. It comes in batts and as loose-fill. It is extremely irritable to skin, so be sure to cover up when you are handling it.
  • Cellulose – Made up of recycled wood fibers, this is probably the most common insulation material. It has a high R-value, but this can slightly lower once it is installed.
  • Mineral wool – Mineral wool is made from recycled content and is available as rock wool or slag wool. Like fiberglass, it is available in loose-fill and batts.

Loose-fill or batts?

If you choose fiberglass or cellulose as your material you will need to choose between loose-fill or batts. Just what are the pros and cons of each? Let’s take a look.

Loose-fill

This requires a blower for installation. Blowers can easily be rented, although if you buy your insulation in store, be sure to ask about a batt since there’s a good chance you’ll get it free.

Loose-fill is useful if you have hard to reach areas in your attic since it is easier to install in these parts. It also fills smaller gaps and spaces which helps with energy efficiency.

Batts

Batts (rolls) are generally easier to work with. You simply roll out the batt on top of your existing insulation and you’re done.

Unlike loose-fill, however, batts are not so great at filling small gaps. In order to close up the spaces left in your attic, you will need to cut out small pieces and place them around, which can be an arduous process.


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