Most homeowners know that insulation is important, but many do not know how insulation works and why it is so important. With so many insulation options available, it can be difficult to know which insulation products you should install into your home. Working with a trained insulation specialist can help you determine which types of insulation will be best for your home, and then professionally install it so you can gain the benefits for years to come. Let’s take a look at how insulation works and then we’ll describe the most common types of insulation currently available to homeowners.
What Insulation Does
Heat moves in three ways:
- Convection – the way heat circulates through liquids and gases
- Conduction – the way heat moves through materials
- Radiation – heat that travels in a straight line and is absorbed by anything exposed to it
Heat always moves from warmer areas to colder areas. As such, the main job of insulation is to slow the transfer of heat; the second job of insulation is to form a barrier that stops your indoor air from moving outdoors. Without an effective resistance to heat flow, your home can become very inefficient and uncomfortable.
R-values are the best way to determine how effectively a particular type of insulation will work. Specifically, R-values are the rating of an insulation material’s resistance to conductive heat flow; the higher the R-value, the greater the resistance. There are recommended R-values for every area of the country based on climate; as such, it’s important to insulate your home based on the R-value recommendation.
Types of Insulation
Here are the most common types of insulation:
- Blanket insulation (also known as batt and roll) – this is the most well-known type of insulation, and is made primarily of fiberglass.
- Foam board/rigid foam – foam boards are rigid boards of insulation that can be used from the top to the bottom of your home.
- Spray foam – spray foam is an adhesive that forms an air-tight seal with whatever it comes into contact with. Spray foam also expands exponentially when it makes contact with the air, so it’s important to have a trained professional for the installation.
- Loose fill/blown-in – loose fill is blown into your home, making it great for retro-fitting; it is mostly made of recycled materials.