Attic Insulation Types

And What Is the Best Type of Attic Insulation For My Home?

No one enjoys living in a cold house. And no one should have to.

If you have functioning heating, you’d expect your house to stay warm even after turning your heating off — at least for a few hours. But if you feel a noticeable drop in temperature soon after turning your heating off, you’ve likely got a problem with your attic insulation (or lack thereof).

This is reinforced when your energy bills are delivered. Despite having a freezing home, your heating bills are extortionate. Frustrating is an understatement.

Having well-fitted attic insulation solves this problem. Heat rises upwards, so any warmth produced by your heating system will rise into the attic. Then, if the attic is not insulated well, it escapes, meaning you might as well be throwing money out of your roof.

So, clearly, attic insulation is important. But what are the types of attic insulation? And what can each offer you as a homeowner?

This article will outline the 4 types of attic insulation, along with their pros and cons. Then, once you’ve finished reading, you’ll be able to assess the best match of attic insulation for you and your family.

1.  Fiberglass Batt Insulation

First on our list of attic insulation is fiberglass batt insulation. This is the most frequently installed type of attic insulation, and it’s often what people picture when they hear the term “insulation.” It looks remarkably similar to cotton candy, but absolutely should not be eaten!

Fiberglass is, ultimately, tiny slivers of glass. Before being transformed into glass, it was sand and other recycled material.

The fiberglass is then rolled into batts, which are big, rolled-up sheets. They’re treated with vapor, which acts as an adhesive.

The Advantages of Fiberglass Batt Insulation

Choosing fiberglass batt insulation to insulate your attic is a solid choice. Here are the advantages of fiberglass batt insulation:

  • The fiberglass itself is a planet-friendly type of attic insulation. The glass was once sand and other recycled material, making it a renewable source of energy.
  • The chemicals added help to flame-proof the insulation, heightening safety levels.
  • Fiberglass batts don’t collapse easily, nor do they shrink quickly. This is down to the air pockets that form during production.
  • Installation is straightforward. So much so that many homeowners choose to do so themselves rather than outsource it to a professional.
  • Fiberglass batt insulation also keeps noise from your home inside your property, and keeps external noise outside.

The Disadvantages of Fiberglass Batt Insulation

While there are many advantages of fiberglass batt insulation, it’s also worth considering the disadvantages and potential risks of this attic insulation type:

  • Fiberglass batt insulation can pose a threat to you. Fiberglass is, in its most basic form, tiny slivers of glass. The glass itself can cause injury.
  • Further, the vapor used to treat the fiberglass can be a health risk if inhaled or touched. If you choose to install fiberglass batt insulation yourself, please do wear masks and gloves at all times.
  • Any moisture destroys the impact of fiberglass batt insulation. If you have a leaky roof or high levels of condensation, you’ll find that the insulation doesn’t work as well.
  • If the insulation absorbs liquid, it will likely spread mold. This mold is a health risk to you and your family.
  • Fiberglass batt insulation encourages unwanted guests (the rodent type – not the human kind!) to make a nest and breed. Rodent infestations can be tricky to treat, and an added strain on your wallet.
  • You’ll need at least a thickness of 270mm on average to get sustainable insulation value. With a high thickness, it becomes tricky to install boards to cover the insulation in your attic.

2.  Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation

Second up on our list of types of attic insulation is blown-in fiberglass insulation.

The material used for blown-in fiberglass insulation is the same as our previous type. However, it differs based on the distribution method.

Rather than having the fiberglass presented in rolls, this method requires the fiberglass to be blown into your attic. This is done via a machine, which blows the material to cover the attic’s space.

The Advantages of Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation

How different are the advantages of blown-in fiberglass than fiberglass batt insulation? What can the blown-in method offer you?:

  • Firstly, installation takes a matter of hours. Fiberglass batt insulation, however, takes a few days. In a fraction of the time, your insulation could be up and running, protecting your heat and keeping the cold out.
  • It’s very cheap. It’s one of the most inexpensive forms of attic insulation available.
  • Due to it being blown in, there’s an even distribution. It’s less manual labor, making it less expensive to have it installed.

The Disadvantages of Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation

What are the cons of blown-in fiberglass insulation? Here’s what you need to know before you choose blown-in fiberglass as your attic insulation type:

  • If the fiberglass gets wet, it can take a very long time to dry out — if it ever does.
  • This makes the material redundant and ineffective, meaning you’ll need to pay for it all over again.
  • Plus, it can breed mold, which is a health concern.
  • If mold does grow, it is a pain-staking process to rectify. Unlike fiberglass batts, which are neat and tidy, the blown-in method means you’ll need to pick up all your insulation, bit by bit, that fills the attic space.

3.  Blown-In Cellulose

Another material you can use as attic insulation is cellulose. This attic insulation type follows the same distribution method as our previous type, but the material is different.

This method uses a material called cellulose. Cellulose is formed from recycled materials, which can include cardboard, newspapers, and wood-based materials.

The cellulose is then blown-in, mirroring the method of blown-in fiberglass insulation. It’s blown to fill any gaps, keeping your heating inside and preventing cold air from entering your home.

The Advantages of Blown-In Cellulose Insulation

Is blown-in cellulose insulation worth it? Is it the best type of attic insulation for you? Here are the benefits of blown-in cellulose insulation:

  • Primarily, cellulose itself is an eco-friendly material. It’s created from recycled products, such as newspapers, cardboard, and other wood-based material. Seeing as the material needed doesn’t require a new generation, it’s helping keep the planet green.
  • The boric acid and other substances that are added to the cellulose keep you safe, as it’s flame proof. It can slow the spread of a fire and prevent a fire from originating in your attic.
  • Statistically, it’s proven that blown-in cellulose insulation has a better R-Value than its counterparts. It’s a staggering 23 percent better, in fact.
  • Cellulose is great at filling any gaps, cracks, or awkward positions, reducing the amount of heat that escapes.
  • Cellulose is wind-washing resistant.

The Disadvantages of Blown-In Cellulose Insulation

To determine whether blown-in cellulose is the attic insulation you’re looking for, you must also consider the disadvantages:

  • Cellulose is eco-friendly, yes. But the substances that have been added to it are not. It requires the chemical boron, which is then used to create boric acid. Boron is in short supply, and is only available from 3 mines around the world. The lack of this is due to it harming the environment. So, while the cellulose is kinder than the planet, it’s not an entirely eco-friendly method.
  • Should you want to renovate your attic or there be a problem with your blown-in cellulose insulation, it can be a messy process to clean up. Again, due to it being blown in with a blowing machine, you’ll need to package every bit of insulation material to move it. So, installation is quick, but clear-up is quite the opposite.
  • As with most insulation methods, cellulose insulation doesn’t mix well with liquid. Any moisture absorbed by the insulation material can spread damp, which is dangerous to those who live in the property.

4.  Spray Foam Insulation

Finally on our list of types of attic insulation, we have the ever-increasing-in-popularity: spray foam insulation.

Unlike all the other types of insulation on our list, spray foam insulation is the only one that comes in the form of a liquid.

Once it’s sprayed, it grows to the required thickness, and then sets as a rigid, strong foam. The foam then acts as a barrier for escaping heat and penetrating cold air.

The Advantages of Spray Foam Insulation

What are the advantages of spray foam insulation? Here’s what this attic insulation type can offer you:

  • Spray foam insulation doesn’t deteriorate over time as much as other types, like fiberglass, does. It’s proven to remain high-performing in both the short and long term.
  • The R-Value is remarkably high, standing tall between 5.6 and 8.0
  • It seals airtight, leaving less escape routes for your heating.
  • The spray foam insulation can add structural strength to your home.
  • It’s highly energy efficient, pushing down your heating bills.
  • There’s no vapor barrier required.
  • The spray foam slides into any awkward gaps, spaces, or cracks well.

The Disadvantages of Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is currently in high demand. But, before you make your decision, here are the disadvantages of spray foam insulation:

  • The initial cost is higher than our other 3 attic insulation types. However, it is worth bearing in mind that, due to high levels of efficiency, your heating bills will be lower. It balances out and even ends up being cheaper than other attic insulation types.
  • When installing the spray foam insulation, it’s fundamental to reach any cavities. If they’re missed, it can cause extensive water damage to your property, which is a headache and can be extremely expensive to rectify.
  • Due to the risk of water damage, you’ll need a professional to install your spray foam insulation. Therefore, you’ll be paying an installation fee.
  • The foam itself is made up of chemicals which are dangerous if touched or inhaled. It can cause skin reactions, inflammation, and/or swelling. You’ll need to be very careful around the foam, ensuring you wear gloves, goggles, and a respirator when in close proximity with it.

You now have the pros and cons of the 4 types of attic insulation to determine the best type for your needs. If you want professional guidance, contact the pros at ASI Hastings Heating, Air and Solar!