There is a lot more to the insulation in a home than many homeowners realize. It comes in a variety of forms and materials, each designed for specific purposes. It has multiple positive aspects and selecting the right insulation product and installing it properly is critical. Homes with great insulation are often easier and quicker to sell as well.
How is the effectiveness of insulation rated? What are the various types available and how can they improve the quality of life and value of a home? Find these answers and more, in our quick guide to home insulation.
How Insulation is Rated
Like a furnace is rated in BTU's and an engine is rated in horsepower, insulation has its own rating system. It is rated by its resistance to heat movement, commonly referred to as its “R-value”. The higher the R-value, the more effective a material is considered to be. It should be noted that a manufacturer's R-value is based on proper installation. This simply means if an insulation product is not installed to their recommendations it may not achieve the desired R-value. Local building codes will often include suggested R-values for a house based on the climate in the area.
Signs a Home is Not Insulated Properly
Poorly insulated houses tend to display some common symptoms. They include:
- Cold floors and walls in the winter
- Inside air that is challenging to cool in the summer
- Hot or cool spots in the home
- High utility bills
- Too much outside noise inside the house
A properly insulated Gregoire new home should be comfortable year round. It should also help reduce outside noise and ultimately reduce energy bills by minimizing energy use.
Common Insulation Materials, Types and Uses
Insulation is made from a variety of materials and is available in a variety of formats. It is also designed to be used for certain purposes and in a variety of areas.
- Fibreglass – This is the most common type of insulation and the one most are familiar with. Fibreglass insulation is most often pink in color and commonly comes is rolls. It is frequently used in open walls and attics. It is generally easy to cut and install. Fibreglass insulation is also available in a loose-fill format that can be blown into an attic or already constructed sidewalls. This takes a specific type of blower and is often best left to professionals.
- Mineral Fibre – Mineral fibre is frequently a brownish-tan in color and like fibreglass, is available in rolls or a loose-fill format. While it is heavier than fibreglass it usually has a lower R-value. Because it is heavier it serves as a better sound insulator than fibreglass.
- Cellulose – This is a loose fill material that is frequently blown into attics. It is heavier than either fibreglass or mineral fibre and is often used as an additional layer on top of existing attic insulation.
- Rigid Foam Sheets – Rigid foam sheeting is most frequently used in new home construction as an insulator between the siding and interior walls and below ground level as an exterior basement insulator. It can be used to cut to fit the interior panels of metal garage doors to add insulating value.
- Spray Foam - Spray foam is an excellent choice for filling gaps around windows, doors and even in electrical outlet boxes. Once the foam is sprayed into an area, it expands as it dries, providing superior insulating qualities. It can be easily trimmed with a knife should it expand out of its intended space.
Before attempting an insulation project it is recommended you use the proper safety equipment including gloves, protective glasses, and a mask. Improving a home's insulation is truly one project that can pay for itself in lower energy bills and an improved home value.