How to Choose the Right Type of Insulation for Your Home or Commercial Building It doesn’t matter if you own a shopping mall in Hawaii, manage a grain handling facility in South Dakota, or pay the mortgage on a rambler in Connecticut. So long as you occupy and foot the bills for a building, you want greater comfort and reduced heating and cooling costs. In other words, you want to choose the right type of insulation for your property! Maybe the only thing you know about insulation is that you shouldn’t eat it regardless of how much it resembles cotton candy. No matter. Once you’re armed with a few pieces of knowledge, you’ll be in a much better position to choose the best insulation for your home or commercial building.
Know the Four Major Types of Insulation
Mud. Wool. Straw. Asbestos (regrettably). Mankind has used several different types of materials for residential, commercial and industrial insulation in the past. Today people typically favor one of four kinds of insulation for their properties. The ideal one for your building is almost surely one of the following.
Batt and roll
Batts are pre-cut sheets of fiberglass; rolls are the same, only longer. The fluffy, felt-like material owes its popularity among homeowners for its affordability, versatility, and ease of installation; it is easy to affix within walls, floors and attics. Standard fiberglass insulation also boasts serviceable R-values: typically 9 to 3.8, although high-density products can exceed 4.0. While batt and roll insulation is DIY-friendly, caution must be taken during installation. If it is not carefully measured, cut and installed, it will possess gaps that allow air to flow freely and heat to escape easily.
Cellulose insulation is mostly made of recycled paper products, such as newsprint. It also contains chemicals such as borate and ammonium sulfate that help it deter insects and resist catching fire. Cellulose is available in two varieties: dense-pack, which is suitable for wall cavities, and loose-fill which easily conforms to the irregular spaces surrounding joists and wiring. Cellulose is an excellent choice for commercial and agricultural buildings, but take care: installing it correctly requires special training and equipment, which means hiring a professional is your best bet.
These inflexible sheets of polystyrene, polyisocyanurate and polyurethane are suitable for a wide variety of applications, including farm roofing and grain elevator roofing. Once joined correctly, rigid foam forms a continuous barrier that seals air and repels moisture infiltration. Better yet, it is reasonably easy to install without the use of specialized equipment, although, spaces filled with odd angles, pipes and conduits pose marked challenges during rigid foam insulation.
Spray foam insulation is made of two types of composite: polyurethane and isocyanate. Once the two liquid chemicals have adhered to a vertical or horizontal surface, they expand and harden to form a durable substance that blocks the passage of moisture and heat alike. The ease and speed of spray foam insulation make it ideal for covering areas that are already finished and/or irregularly shaped (hence its outstanding utility for grain elevator insulation). Just take care that spray foam insulation is a complicated process – strictly within the domain of professionals – and requires occupants to vacate a home during the one to three days it requires to cure.
Understand Your Property’s R-Value Needs
R-value measures insulation’s resistance to heat flow, where a higher R-value reflects greater resistance and overall greater potential for insulation. R-value is assigned to a material according to how much heat resistance it exhibits when it is one inch thick; insulation with low R-value therefore has the potential to provide just as much insulation as one with high R-value, so long as greater quantities of it are installed. The ideal R-value for your property depends very much on its type and application: a seafood restaurant in Florida has very different insulation requirements than a turkey farm in Minnesota. Energy Star provides extremely helpful R-value guidelines for wood-framed properties throughout the country. As you have likely already surmised, higher R-values are advised for colder climates, whereas warmer ones make do with decidedly less insulation. If your property does not have a wood frame – or if it is commercial, industrial or agricultural – then its insulation’s optimal R-value is best determined by a professional insulation service.
Consider Several Variables That Are Unique to Your Property and Budget
Choosing the best insulation requires an understanding of far more than available types of insulation and how effectively they do their jobs. Before committing to a certain product, consider the following:
Will your budget allow it?
Certain types of insulation are far more affordable than others. If you’re performing roof maintenance on a normal single-family house, you have probably allotted less money to the project than you would have if you were insulating the roof of an enormous agricultural facility.
Is it difficult to install?
If you would prefer to install insulation yourself, then you would be well advised to stick to a straightforward batt and roll project. But if you’re willing to pay a professional to do the work, then you’re at liberty to overlook the intricacies of other types of insulation products’ installation protocol.
Is it new construction or a retrofit?
If you’re building a new property, then you have far greater freedom when it comes to insulation. But if the building is already standing, solutions such as roll and batt and rigid foam may prove impractical – the reason why cellulose and spray foam are typically favored for retrofitting projects.
Making sense of your property’s unique insulation needs becomes much easier once you have engaged the services of an insulation professional. If you own or manage a commercial, agricultural or industrial property in the continental United States, then we welcome you to contact NIJAC today. Our expertise in insulation represents your surest solution to keeping your property protected while simultaneously reducing its energy usage!