Compare Insulation Types for Homes
USA Premium Foam® Insulation
This is a foam-in-place injection insulation that outperforms the other retrofit insulation products for many reasons. USA Premium Foam is a semi-permeable foam that provides superior thermal and acoustical insulation. This environmentally friendly foam emits no CFCs or VOCs. Unlike blow-in insulation products, our injectable insulation for homes is pumped into wall spaces in a liquid form with the consistency of shaving cream. It flows freely throughout the wall cavity to create a highly effective thermal envelope preventing air infiltration. Blown-in insulation can settle over time and does not seal bypasses or conform around outlets like foam does. USA Insulation is a healthier, cleaner, safer, quieter type of insulation with a higher R-value. When you compare insulation types, you'll discover the many advantages of USA Premium Foam Insulation.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation is generally used in areas where there are no wall cavities to contain other types of insulation--on concrete slabs or unfinished walls.
THE UPSIDE: When sprayed on the surface, the foam expands to fill bypasses as it resists air infiltration. It can be used in small quantities to fill tight spaces while increasing structural stability and providing sound insulation.
THE DOWNSIDE: Due to expansion, installation of SPF is not recommended in closed cavities like stud walls with drywall, lath-and-plaster, or sheetrock. The foam can shrink while curing if not applied at the correct temperature. Many spray foam products need to be protected from sunlight and solvents and most can release toxic fumes when burning. The R-value (insulation effectiveness) of many spray foam insulation products will diminish over time.
THE UPSIDE: All rigid panels are strong and lightweight and provide thermal and sound insulation. The panels are water resistant and will not rot. It will protect the foundation and add to the structural strength of walls. Rigid panels have a high R-value and work well in cramped or tight spaces.
THE DOWNSIDE: Rigid panels are flammable and release toxic fumes when burning. They are also vulnerable to damage from UV light and solvents, and can be used as termite nests.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIP)
Also referred to as stressed-skin walls, SIPs consist of plywood, strandboard—or drywall that glued around a core of expanded polyurethane—polyisocyanurate, polystyrene, and compressed wheat straw or epoxy. They can be used for ceilings, floors, walls, and roofs. These panels vary in thickness and are glued together and secured with lumber.
THE UPSIDE: SIPs provide sound insulation and strength in a home and resist moisture.
THE DOWNSIDE: SIPs are more expensive than other insulation types.
Fiberglass Batts & Blankets
Typically made with 20 to 30 percent recycled industrial waste and similar post consumer content. Fiberglass blankets are provided in continuous rolls while batts are precut.
THE UPSIDE: This material is not flammable, with the possible exception of its facing. Blankets can cover joists and studs, as well as the space between them.
THE DOWNSIDE: Blankets can be difficult to hang under floors between joists. Gaps between batts can defeat the purpose of the insulation because they invite air infiltration or condensation.
Cotton Batts Insulation
THE UPSIDE: Sometimes known as Blue Jean Batts. Cotton batts have a higher R-value than the average fiberglass batts and are made with recycled content, no toxic substances. There is no risk of airborne fibers causing cancer.
THE DOWNSIDE: Cotton batts are often difficult to cut to fit the cavity. Comparing insulation types, unlike cellulose or expanding foam, batts will not totally seal the cavity against air transfer.
Loose Fill / Blown-in Insulation (Including Cellulose)
THE UPSIDE: Materials can be blown-in to attics, finished walls and tough to reach areas. The loose fill material can also be sprayed in with a water-based adhesive. It is environmentally friendly, consisting of 80 percent recycled newspapers, and is less of a health hazard to the installer than fiberglass.
THE DOWNSIDE: Compared to other insulation types, loose fill insulation does not seal bypasses as effectively as foam. If materials are heavy, there is a risk of sagging ceilings. Some of its effectiveness can diminish over time due to material settling.
High performing, low density material used for skylights, solariums. Aerogels provide the best form of insulation using a combination of silica and carbon, allowing light to enter while absorbing heat from the sun.
THE UPSIDE: Compressed straw bales are being used more often in recent years due to a high R-value and low cost.
THE DOWNSIDE: The effectiveness can be greatly reduced by moisture or air pockets.
Types of radiant barriers include foil or foil laminates. Foil-backed bubble packs are thin and flexible and are often used as vapor barriers for cold pipes, ducts and roof sheathing. Foil-faced polystyrene panels are more flexible than rigid panels and operate as a thermal break as well as a vapor barrier. These are used on roofs and should not be used to fill cavities. Other radiant barrier methods can be as simple as light colored roofs and reflective paint, or metal roofs made of aluminum or copper.
THE UPSIDE: Effectively prevents the transfer of radiant heat, equally, in both directions. R-value cannot be determined for radiant barriers.