Insulating your home with the right insulation product for specific areas is one of the most crucial building components when it comes to energy efficiency. It also plays a vital role in protecting the structure as a whole. Installing the wrong type of insulation can lead to a reduction in energy efficiency, condensation problems, mold, fungus, water stains, and even rotting framing members and plywood sheathing.
It’s quite understandable that a lot of homeowners are lost when it comes to knowing which type of insulation product they should use to insulate specific areas of their home, such as an attic, walls, floors, windows, doors, and basements. They have a lot of questions about home insulation. This guide is going to take a look at the most frequently asked questions for home insulation and explain the answers in more detail.
Here are the top 10 questions most frequently asked by homeowners:
1. What’s the first thing I need to know about insulation?
The first thing you need to know about insulation is what the R-value means. The R-value of any insulation product measures its resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value it has, the greater the insulation’s effectiveness and power.
Pro Tip: R-values can increase when used with other building components such as drywall, plywood sheathing, house wrap, and siding.
2. If I’m building a new house, do I need to insulate the exterior walls of the foundation?
If you live in a warmer climate, you do not need to insulate the exterior walls of your foundation. Typically, a variety of sealants are applied to the exterior walls for waterproofing and dampproofing, and that’s generally all the insulation you need.
On the other hand, if you live in areas subject to deep snow and frigid temperatures, you should consider adding 2-inch foam boards to the exterior walls after the sealant is dried to maximize the R-value of your foundation before it’s back-filled.
3. What type of insulation should I be using in my exterior walls?
The most common type of insulation for exterior wall cavities is fiberglass batt insulation. It’s been used in home construction for decades, and R-19 is typically the standard R-Value for fiberglass batt insulation. Fiberglass batt insulation is available with or without the paper facing, and it can be easily cut to fit into smaller crevices.
Cellulose and cotton are also good choices, and they can be applied with loose-fill or blown-in methods. Both materials can be used in the walls as well as the attic. Additionally, a relatively new application is spray foam insulation; it expands as it dries and creates a hard, thick foam.
4. How important is attic insulation, and do I need it?
The attic is the most important place to install insulation because heat rises; therefore, to make your home more energy-efficient, it’s vital to insulate the floor of the attic. Attic insulation also prevents condensation, bacteria, and mold from forming on your framing members and plywood roof sheathing.
Depending on your geographical location, the US Department of Energy recommends either fiberglass batt insulation or cellulose with R-values between 38 and 49 for attic insulation.
5. Are there any other areas to insulate besides the exterior walls and attic?
Insulation can be installed in many different areas of your home. House wrap that goes on before the siding can even be considered a type of insulation. When installing new windows and doors, a lot of homeowners are unaware that before the siding goes on, the perimeter of the window or door should be insulated with 6-inch self-adhesive rubber flashing. It drastically stops drafts from entering the structure and prevents interior heating/cooling loss.
Other areas of the home that should be considered for insulation include:
- Knee walls in living and attic spaces
- Dormer ceilings
- Sloped walls and ceilings
- Around foundations and slabs
- Between the foundation and bottom sill plates (exterior walls)
- Vaulted or cathedral ceilings
- Floors located above vented crawl spaces
- Interior basement walls
- Floors over unheated areas such as porches and garages
- Inside box headers for windows and doors
- Floors located above unheated basements
- Interior walls – cracks and crevices around windows and doors before it’s trimmed and finished
- Interior floors, ceilings, and walls where you desire sound-proofing
6. What are my options for choosing insulation?
As mentioned above, there are several types of insulation available in today’s marketplace. When it comes to residential applications, cellulose and fiberglass batts are both standard and common types of insulation. Depending on certain factors such as your budget, geographical location, and R-value desire, other factors to consider include:
- Resistance to settling
- Thermal performance
- Fire safety
- Moisture resistance
Pro Tip: Most homeowners who lack experience and knowledge have discovered it much easier to contact a professional insulation contractor for a home energy audit as opposed to just winging it. A professional insulator can quickly provide you with the best information on what types of insulation that you should be using as well as the total price for materials and labor.
7. Is installing insulation a DIY project?
It doesn’t take rocket science to install fiberglass batts; however, it does take specialized air equipment for blown-in or loose-fill insulation. Therefore, you will need to hire a professional insulation contractor for those two applications.
On the flip side of the coin, if you’re like the average homeowner, the idea of installing fiberglass batts is an itchy one at best, so most homeowners just let the contractor do the job.
8. Where can I get the best deal on insulation?
There are generally a couple of good options. Home improvement stores and local hardware stores will offer the best in-person prices. Shopping online is another option; however, sometimes the shipping fees don’t make it very feasible. The best option is to utilize your insulation contractor’s connections.
Most insulators get their supply from the same sources as the big retailers; therefore, the savings can be passed on to you when you have them provide you with a written proposal for the materials and installations.
9. How much does it cost to insulate a house?
Several factors come in to play when insulating an entire structure. Some considerations include the number of floors, crawl spaces, attic design, location, and the number of square feet to insulate. According to Homeadvisor.com, the national average to insulate a home is between $1,400 and $2,300.
For example, let’s consider a small 500sqft DIY insulation project versus hiring the job out? The DIY cost could vary between $150 and $200, and for professional installations, you can add another $150 to $300 to the final bill. The total cost for material and labor for 500sqft averages between $300 and $500 for about 6hrs of work with the materials included, which by most people’s standards is quite reasonable.
10. How do I find a professional insulation contractor near me?
There are several ways to find a qualified insulation contractor in your location. Perhaps, you may know of one or one of your friends happens to know one. It’s understandable if you don’t; therefore, your next option is to perform an online search for “insulation contractors near me” and view the top results. The top results will list the top vetted insulation contractors in your area; however, it also requires some research and time on your end.
If you’d like more information on insulating your home, fill out our contact form, and a member of our team will be in touch to answer any questions you may have.