Compare Insulation Types
Guide to Home Insulation from Our Experts
When it comes to home or commercial insulation, you have options. On this page, our insulation experts at USA Insulation have provided a helpful guide to the various insulation materials and products available to use. If you have questions about home or business insulation, we’ll be happy to answer them for you in a free consultation.
Roll-in / Blown-in Insulation
Loose fill or blown-in insulation includes cellulose.
- Pros: This type of insulation can be great for areas that are difficult to get to, including attic spaces and interior / exterior walls that have been completed. It is also good for the environment, made of 80% recycled newspapers. It is less dangerous for installers than fiberglass insulation. Loose fill insulation can be applied via spray using a water-based adhesive solution.
- Cons: Can be less effective in sealing bypasses, and can be too heavy for ceiling structural integrity. May lose insulation efficiency over time.
Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation (SPF)
Spray foam insulation can be used on concrete slabs, unfinished walls, and other uncontained spaces.
- Pros: Spray foam insulation is applied directly to an uncontained surface and expands to fill the space. Small amounts can be applied to narrow areas and serves to increase the stability of a structure.
- Cons: Spray foam insulation should not be used in closed spaces such as stud walls fitted with sheetrock, lath and plaster, or drywall, as it expands. If the correct temperature is not ensured during application, spray foam insulation can shrink. It may need to be shielded from the sun and certain solvents. In many cases, foam spray insulation releases toxic fumes in a fire. Spray foam insulation can also lose its R-value over time.
Rigid insulation panels or sheets can be installed in the interior / exterior walls, ceiling, and / or foundation of your home or business.
- Pros: Rigid panels are sturdy, lightweight, and have both soundproofing and thermal insulation properties. These panels are water, mold, and rot resistance. They add to the structural strength of walls and have a high R-value. These panels may be ideal where there is limited space.
- Cons: Rigid panels are highly flammable. In a fire, they can release dangerous toxic fumes. Termites have been known to like rigid panels for building their nests; these panels can also be damaged by certain solvents as well as UV light exposure.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIP)
SIPs or stressed-skin walls are made of drywall, plywood, or strand board affixed to an expanded polyurethane, polyisocyanurate, polystyrene, epoxy, or compressed wheat straw center. They are secured with lumber and come in a range of widths.
- Pros: Water and moisture resistant, add to structural strength, sound insulation
- Cons: One of the most expensive types of insulation
Aerogels insulation is ideal for solariums and skylights. This low-density product performs well and utilizes a unique blend of silica and carbon. Aerogels insulation absorbs the sun’s heat, protecting your home from high temperatures, without blocking sunlight.
Using compressed straw bales as insulation is a fairly recent trend.
- Pros: High R-value, economical, environmentally friendly
- Cons: Can be compromised by water / moisture and air pockets
Some types of radiant barriers are foil, foil laminates, reflective paint, and aluminum, copper, or another type of metal roofing material. Even a light-colored coat of paint on a roof can serve as a radiant barrier.
- Pros: Blocks radiant heat transfer in both directions
- Cons: R-value cannot be measured
Fiberglass Blankets / Batts
Fiberglass blankets and bats are usually made using between 20% and 30% recycled consumer waste including industrial waste.
- Pros: Fiberglass blankets / bats are not flammable in and of themselves, though the facing on the product could potentially be a fire hazard. Fiberglass blankets are effective in covering tough areas such as studs and joists.
- Cons: Fiberglass blankets can be tricky to install below the flooring between joists, and air / moisture can get in the gaps between precut batts.
Cotton batts insulation is sometimes called Blue Jean Batts.
- Pros: R-value is higher than that of fiberglass batts. Cotton batts are made of completely recycled material and are therefore environmentally friendly and non-toxic. This form of insulation also protects your indoor air quality since it will not break off into dangerous loose fibers.
- Cons: Cotton batts are not as effective at blocking air movement as other types of installation, and they can be difficult to cut to size for proper installation.