Finding the Best Insulation Material: A Simple Guide

A structure’s insulation keeps temperatures steady in summer and winter. Insulation also aids in soundproofing the structure. It’s made of vegetable fibers, minerals, animal components, and synthetic materials. It comes in various forms, and some types are better for a house than others. Even the best insulation material has its pros and cons, but they all depend on the “R” factor to keep a structure cool in summer and warm in winter. This is the insulation’s resistance to airflow.

installing insulation

The higher the number, the more air is prevented from entering or departing the structure.

What Is The Best Insulation Material?

The answer to this question depends on the reason insulation is being used. If the structure is a new construction, then the building materials will dictate what type of insulation is best. For example, a builder would use insulating concrete forms in a business structure, such as a mall, whose walls were concrete blocks.

Blanket Rolls And Batts

Most are made of pink fiberglass, however, cotton, sheep’s wool, mineral wool, and plastic are just as common.

Best for: DIY remodeling and new construction.

Cellulose/Loose Fill

Made of recycled paper that’s then turned into fibers, cellulose is then treated with pest-resistant chemicals. It’s blown into place.

Best for: attics.

Polyurethane Foam

Open-cell or closed-cell dense foam is sprayed into place. As it dries, it expands into a solid wall that no air will get around. Its R-value is six per inch. Also available is cementitious foam. Although made from cement, its main ingredient is minerals found in seawater.

Best for: anywhere you want to add extra insulation or somewhat inaccessible places like crawl spaces.

foam board insulation

Insulation Facings

This is insulation with a facing or barrier. Usually made of aluminum, the barrier not only prevents heat absorption, but it also reflects the heat back into the atmosphere. This type of insulation isn’t rated in R-values due to its working differently.

Best for: attics, ceilings, and floors in very hot and humid areas.

Vapor Barriers

Although not technically insulation, vapor barriers are essential for insulation to do its job. Frequently just a sheet of plastic, vapor barriers can also consist of rubber or metal membranes, or even paint, so long as it blocks moisture. Vapor barriers are mostly found in the extremes of hot and humid areas on both walls and floors. Vapor barriers are best used in moist to wet rooms like bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens.

Best for: floating hardwood floors, concrete walls in commercial structures, moist or wet rooms in the extremes of hot and humid areas.

Polystyrene Foam Boards

Homeowners wanting to remodel their garage or basement into a family room or a basement apartment often use rigid foam boards. They come in a variety of sizes and can be cut to fit any circumstance. R-values go up to six. To cancel out any chance of fire from the combustible rigid foam boards, be sure to drywall over them.

Best for: unfinished walls and ceilings like basements, attics, and garages.

Final Thoughts

The best insulation material for you depends on what type of structure you’re building or remodeling. Some insulation, such as fiberglass, is unhealthy to install unless you’re fully protected. Other types, such as cellulose, are environmentally friendly for the green type of homeowner. What type of structure are you building?

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