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Types of Attic Insulation: A Beginner’s Guide

November 22, 2013

Insulation helps you save money because it keeps unwanted heat out of your Florida home.

But if your home is older than 1982, your attic could probably use more insulation, according to Florida Power and Light Company. Adding more could save you hundreds on your energy bill each year.

But do you know the right type to add for your Florida home’s attic? The choices seem endless so it can be confusing when shopping around.

Well, let’s simplify things for you. There are two factors you should consider when looking for insulation:

  • Form- What shape the insulation takes. This determines how well is can fill a space and therefore how well it can keep heat from leaking in and out of your home. It also affects the thermal resistance (R-Value) per inch on the insulation.
  • Material- What the insulation is made of. Affects several factors like cost, weight, fire resistance. 

We’ll go over the 2 most common forms of attic insulation while discussing a few materials each form uses. Finally, we’ll provide you detailed resources to learn more about insulation specifics.

Types of attic insulation forms and their materials

Blankets
Blanket insulation comes in two forms: batts (pre-cut squares) and rolls that you need to cut yourself to get the length you need. This is the cotton candy looking insulation you see in many attics. It’s the most common form used. 

Pros:

  • Easiest for DIY’ers to install themselves

Cons:

  • Blankets may not fill in minor gaps in the attic, allowing heat to get into your home and increasing how much your air conditioner runs to keep you cool.

Common blanket insulation materials

Fiberglass

Pros:

  • Inexpensive (30 cents per sq ft)

Cons:

  • Can be itchy to install. Be careful and use protective clothing and eyewear.
  • Compresses easily, so it loses some of its insulating ability

Rockwool

Pros:

  • Higher R-value per inch
  • More fire resistant than fiberglass
  • Thicker and therefore reduces sound transmission

Cons:

  • Costs more (60 cents per sq ft)

Loose-fill
Loose fill insulation is blown into your attic in little chunks through an insulation blower hose.

Pros:

  • Conforms to spaces to fill nooks and crannies, making sure that heat has harder time entering your home through your attic.
  • Perfect for adding insulation to already existing insulation to get the R-value amount you need.
  • Cheaper than rolled in insulation

Cons:

  • Requires special equipment to blow in, so you’ll need to spend money on a contractor (or rent the equipment).
  • Settles more over time, reducing its R-value/ability to insulate your home from heat.

Common loose fill insulation materials

Fiberglass

Pros:

  • Does not absorb much moisture
  • Lightweight so it can be added to attics without much weight concerns

Cons:

  • Fluffier and loses some insulation ability when it’s colder

Cellulose

Pros:

  • Denser and therefore resists more airflow than fiberglass
  • Higher R-value
  • More affordable since it’s made from recycled products
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Settles more over time, reducing its insulating effectiveness

How do I choose an insulation type?
It’s hard to say. There are several factors to consider including:

  • If you want to DIY
  • Budget
  • Type of insulation already in your attic
  • Structure of your attic

Insulation resources
To learn more about insulation types and other subjects about insulation, check out these resources:

● Insulation Materials- Energy.gov
● Types of Insulation- Energy.gov
● How to Choose Insulation- The Home Depot
● Recommended Levels of Insulation- ENERGY STAR
● Payback Estimator: Insulation Upgrade- Fine Homebuilding

Need help installing the right type and amount of insulation in your home? Contact Advanced Air for help.

Advanced Air has been serving Fort Myers and Naples, Florida, and the surrounding areas for over 25 years.

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