Some consumers may not be aware of the role that roofing insulation plays in their home. It may not be the first thing on many homeowners’ lists, but it can still play an important role in how energy-efficient their home is, among other things.
Your roofing insulation can prevent heat loss as well as both save (or lose) you money in energy costs and improve the energy efficiency of your house as a whole.
Up to 25% of the heat that your home has can naturally escape through the roof of the structure. If your roofing doesn’t have proper insulation, you can basically imagine that money flying off into the sky completely free.
Most roofing insulation has a long lifetime use – especially when being installed by a highly-qualifed roofing contractor. Insulation can last up to 40 years and can usually pay for itself in a much shorter time – as quickly as 5 years.
On top of that, your insulation will both retain heat when necessary and prevent it from entering in hot periods like Summer. It can reduce noise, strengthen your roofing structure, and give you long-term protection against weather damage.
Keep reading below as we inform you about the different types of roofing insulation that are available as well as some of the benefits (and any drawbacks) of each individual type of insulation!
Types of Roof Insulation
There are a lot of different kinds of roofing insulation that you can use for your home, so a bit of research will go a long way.
Some characteristics may limit your choices or turn you towards specific kinds of insulation. To use this information appropriately, you may need to know certain facts about your home and its roofing structure.
You should know whether you’ve got a flat roof, or what level slope you have. You should also be aware of any issues with moisture, ventilation, or warmth with your current roof. Finally, you should keep in mind whether you will be using the attic as a living space, storage, and if there is room for certain types of insulation to be installed. With this information, you are ready to learn!
Fiberglass Insulation is created and manufactured by using tiny fibers of glass that are spun at a hot temperature. It reminds a lot of people of cotton candy in terms of its appearance, but it’s obviously much more durable as the fibers of insulation are packed together quite well.
Fiberglass insulation has a ton of positives starting with the fact that it is quite easy to install. Fiberglass insulation is popular so manufacturers are able to create it with standard widths that will easily where it needs to.
It’s also quite moisture resistant. This is one of the biggest jobs of any insulation – to keep moisture out. If you live in a high humidity area, or somewhere where it rains all the time, many roofing contractors will end up opting for fiberglass. With its moisture resistance, you also get insulation that is much less prone to mold growth which is a huge positive for homeowners.
Another concern, the opposite of water, is fire resistance. Fiberglass insulation is noncombustible and fire resistant which is great for being used in homes with wooden structures or materials.
Finally, fiberglass insulation is considered to be friendly to the environment, typically being made with almost half of its makeup coming from recycled products. Whatever isn’t being recycled is typically made from sand – considered to be a renewable resource.
There are some downsides to fiberglass insulation which you should be aware of. If fiberglass insulation isn’t properly installed, it won’t be as efficient. This is true of most materials – but certainly is a big thing with fiberglass. There are other insulations that can be considered to give more ‘value’ in terms of “R value per inch”.
Spray Foam Insulation
Although spray foam is a newer form of installation, there are also pros and cons with using it for your roof insulation.
It’s applied by spraying a polyurethane foam into walls and ceilings where it expands and forms an airtight seal to keep out moisture, pests, and mold.
It’s biggest positive is that it can reach places where it might be hard to put traditional fiberglass insulation like small cracks, corners, or tight areas. It’s also considered to have a longer lifespan than fiberglass insulation due to its make up.
Unfortunately, spray foam insulation is more expensive than fiberglass insulation, which will be a factor for some homeowners. It’s also not something that most homeowners will be able to complete, where as many property owners will consider installing their own fiberglass insulation.
With any job being done by a contractor, you need to make sure that anyone who is applying spray foam insulation in your home has plenty of experience and has a proven track record before turning your project over to them.
Rigid Foam Insulation
Rigid foam insulation may be known by many names like foam board or board stock. There’s a lot to like with this type of insulation if you have the right environment to use it. It is sold in sheets with varying sizes of (obviously) rigid boards.
It’s got extremely high R value compared to traditional fiberglass insulation and can even be water resistant or buried to insulate foundation exteriors. There are many different types of rigid foam insulation from plastic, aluminum, or even XPS or “blueboard”. With all these different varieties, you almost certainly need to speak with a roofing contractor to make sure you are getting insulation that best fits with your project.
The biggest downside of rigid foam insulation is that it is susceptible to sunlight. It can be damaged by UV rays so it needs to be installed appropriately, otherwise you will be creating more problems for yourself in the long run.
If you have ever seen a shiny metallic material lining an attic, it is most likely a radiant insulation. This is a reflecting surface that blocks radiant heat and gets in between your air conditioned space and the heat from the sun’s rays.
There are many different kinds of radiant insulations including radiant barrier paint, foil-backed sheathing, and foil. Since radiant insulations are typically all about blocking heat, they won’t be a ton of use in most climates in Washington where the weather can be cool for long periods of time. Realistically, radiant barriers simply don’t do a great job in the cold weather environments and are not considered a good investment.
If you do feel like you have a property that is in a climate that is going to be hammered by the sun and see a ton of heat year round, radiant insulations would become a much more practical product to use.
With so many different insulation products on the market, you should speak with a roofing contractor who can help you decide what would be right for your home or project. Many people may decide to go with traditional fiberglass insulation without knowing about their other options, which will not always work out as well as they would like. It is definitely worth the phone call to make sure you are not missing out on something that could be a better fit for your roofing structure!