What Kind of Insulation Should I Use in My Attic?
Adding insulation to an attic helps reduce utility bills in the summer cooling and winter heating seasons. In addition, some forms of insulation are environmentally friendly, using recycled fibers and other consumer waste to produce the insulation. Homeowners can choose from a number of types of insulation, depending on the attic structure, plans for use of the attic, budget and personal preference.
Loose-fill insulation, also referred to as blown-in insulation, is comprised of small fiber, foam or wool particles or beads. According to the Insulation Doctor website, loose-fill insulation works well in attics with small, hard-to-reach spaces or attics undergoing remodeling into a living space. Some loose-fill insulation, such as wool, are created with post-consumer recycled content, which can make loose fill an environmentally-friendly insulation option. Homeowners can rent the blowing machine from a home remodeling center to install the insulation themselves, or hire contractors to perform the installation. Do-it-yourselfers should heed any safety precautions suggested by the manufacturer as well as any local building code requirements.
Batt insulation, often referred to as blanket insulation, comes in large rolls, with cut-to-fit options available to consumers at home improvement centers. This type of insulation is comprised of fiberglass or rock wool with a paper or foil backing. Batt insulation works best when attic studs are spaced 16 to 24 inches apart, so it fits securely between the boards. Batt insulation is generally the least expensive option for insulating attics, and the homeowner can save even more money by installing it himself.
Cellulose insulation is comprised of recycled newspaper or cardboard treated with a flame retardant chemical. This form of insulation is ideal for attics, as they usually lack the dampness associated with other parts of the house that could cause the insulation to experience mildew or mold growth. In addition, the health risks of cellulose are lower than that of fiberglass insulation. Cellulose offers a higher R value per inch of insulation compared to other forms of insulation and also functions as a sound barrier, but is more expensive than batt insulation.
Foam insulation for attics involves spraying a thin layer of a liquid chemical, which then expands to become several inches thick over the wood. Unfortunately, application of this type of insulation is not a project for do-it-yourselfers due to the need for specialized spraying equipment and the expense of the foam itself; foam is the most expensive type of attic insulation. Foam insulation is ideal for attics with gaps in the wood, as the foam expands to seal these gaps and prevent air flow and even bugs from getting into the home.