With Winter coming, talk shifts toward health and preventing that all invasive Winter Cold. When it comes to home repair, prevention is needed as well. This is especially true when working on any project that may include contractors. This hardworking breed of people are famous for making choices based on profit margin and do not always have the consumers best interest at heart. Here are five common types of insulation and their main uses. For more, follow the links to educate yourself further. Education is the best preventive for getting ripped off. Have questions? Leave a comment for a free evaluation of your home’s insulation!
Batting is one of the most common types of insulation used in walls and attics. It is often pink, or yellow, comes in rolls and looks a lot like cotton candy with a paper, or foil backing. Most batting is made from fiberglass but many other materials can be used ranging from natural fibers, to plastic to sheep’s wool. Not all batting is equal. The most important factor is the R value. With fiberglass this ranges from 2.9 to 3.8 per inch of “loft” or thickness of the material. “R” stands for retention, and helps to show how well the insulation holds in heat. The higher the “R” value the better the insulation.
Another method for insulating is to use a “hopper” that blows the insulation from a large bin or trailer, loose, into your attic or walls to fill the dead space. This type of insulation is typically made of fiberglass or cellulose (mostly recycled newspaper). It can be installed very quickly and is effective at filling the void. It does suffer some loss of R value from settling and health concerns exist for uncovered blown insulation, since small particles can be carried into the ventilation system and inhaled.
Radiant barrier is the name given to a layer of foil installed to reflect heat. It can be installed on its own, in rolls of heavy weight foil material along the bottom of your roof decking, or on top of the ceiling between attic joists. It is also often added to foam insulation as a backer and even to some batting as an added protection.
Foam board is used for a variety of insulation purposes, from lining exterior siding to insulating the interior of basement walls. It is commonly available in large sheets which are easy to cut to size and come in varying thicknesses from 3/8 to 2 inches or more. Most foam board is made from expanded polystyrene, which is extremely long lived, and will not compact so that the R value remains consistent.
For sealing those pesky gaps around doors, windows and other openings, or along the bottom and tops of walls in older homes, weatherstripping is the product you want. There are a wide variety of weather strips available from ropes of poly foam to tape backed foam, to vinyl covered foam for door facings. Weatherstripping is used to fill open gaps, or pad the edges of doors and windows, so that they close snugly. It should not be used as a replacement for caulking, which provides a weather tight seal.