Radiant Barrier – Installation Methods Pro’s and Con’s

You’ve read all of the articles and know all the pro’s and con’s to the attic insulation called radiant barrier. Now what? You need to ask yourself two vital questions and they are:

1. Does my attic have ductwork?

2. What is the climate conditions in my area (hot, cold?)

3. What are the install methods of radiant barrier and which one should I use?

We’re going to start by answering question number 3 first and tell you what the install methods of radiant barrier are.

The two prominent methods of installation are: stapling your reflective insulation to your roof rafters or just laying your reflective insulation over your previous traditional attic insulation. Each method has pro’s and con’s however, in order to make an informed decision you will need to answer question two.

If you live in mixed or possibly colder climate (East Coast etc…) then you may want to consider having reflective insulation installed on top of your traditional attic insulation. This will be the most effective method for you. Because it will stop heat loss in the winter and also will stop any convective looping- the colder denser air sinking into the insulation and the warmer air trying to warm the insulation-. Just by placing the reflective insulation on your insulation, you will be in effect wrapping your insulation with foil blanket and the cold air will not have access to your insulation. Though, please, do not think that the radiant barrier is the end all of insulation, instead it creates a deadly due against the fight against heat loss!

What if you live in a warm or hot climate and NO ductwork? This will open up the second install method of stapling the reflective insulation onto your attics rafters. However, it is still preferable to install the insulation on the attic floor due to receiving both summer and winter benefits. A warning: make sure you are completely satisfied with your insulation levels already. If you need to add insulation make sure to add the insulation prior to installing the radiant barrier. Because as soon as you install any reflective insulation you will not be able to install more traditional insulation without countering the effects of the radiant barrier. Due to the fact that all radiant barriers require an air space of approximately 1″.

However, if there is ductwork in the attic you may lean towards stapling the radiant barrier to your attics rafters. According the Department of Energy this is the optimal installation process in order to minimize summer heat gain and winter heat loss in the warmer climates. Though it is up for some debate on which method is better for energy savings.

It doesn’t matter which install method you decide on. You will see energy savings with it. The staple-up method results in the minimum overall heat gain into your home. Both of these methods of installing radiant barrier is going to make your home feel more comfy and save you money on your utility bills.