Choosing Insulation

What’s the Best Insulation Out There?

We hear that question a lot, and it’s understandable. While some home services can be cut and dry -- for example, your plumber won’t have to give you a detailed explanation on PVC pipe technology -- insulation won’t be quite that direct. What is best depends on your needs.

What’s the Best Insulation Option for Me?

Each type of insulation has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the optimal choice will vary depending on the specific structure. The chart below illustrates the distinct attributes of each option.

Batt (Blanket) Insulation

Batt insulation is designed to fit most standard building sizes and is commonly used in houses for insulating floors, walls, and ceilings. It has R-values ranging from 3.1 to 3.7 per inch, allowing you to choose the appropriate level of thermal resistance based on your location. Batt insulation also provides good sound absorption properties, making it effective for reducing noise.

When installing batt insulation, special attention is required for fixtures such as electrical boxes, wiring, ductwork, and plumbing vents, which can be addressed using aluminum flashing, high-temperature silicone caulking, or expanding foam. Additionally, both fiberglass and mineral wool batts are naturally non-combustible, adding to their safety features.

Blown-In Insulation

Blown-in insulation, composed of fiberglass, cellulose, or mineral wool, is applied by blowing small particles into the desired space, creating a solid barrier that fills gaps. Its ability to conform to the space makes additional sealing measures unnecessary, unlike batt insulation.

Blown-in insulation has an R-value ranging from 2.7 to 3.3 per inch, depending on the material and density. It's important to note that the R-value varies with density, so blown-in fiberglass has a lower R-value compared to fiberglass batts.

While fiberglass and mineral wool are non-combustible, cellulose requires fire retardants to reduce flammability when used in blown-in insulation.