There are numerous different types and brands of insulation available on the market today for residential and commercial construction. Some of the more popular choices have been fiberglass, cellulose types, polystyrene (blue board) and spray foam. All of these different types of insulation are assigned an R-value which “grades” each in terms of thermal resistance. One type of insulation, which is graded on a different scale and has been receiving increased attention of the media due to its environmentally green benefits, is radiant barriers.
Most insulation works on the same premise of providing a dense barrier between the interior of the building and the exterior. Different types of insulation are more effective than others. As the denseness of the insulative material increases so does its effectiveness. Whether the building envelope is sealed or not, also will affect how well the building is insulated from the heat or cold.
Fiberglass insulation, although relatively inexpensive and the most prolific in its use, allows copious amounts of air to pass through compared to others. Despite attempts to seal the building envelope, fiberglass will not help to achieve this goal. Even though spray foam is more expensive, it has been one of the most effective. The reason for the increase in expense is due in large part to specialized gear for proper installation and its greater effectiveness at sealing small crevices and air seepage.
All of the above mentioned insulation can be excellent choices depending upon the requirements. For those home owners or business owners with existing and completed structures, it would be prohibitively more expensive to retrofit than to have installed in new construction. There is an excellent and cost effective alternative to ripping out drywall, installing additional insulation and dry-walling back over again.
Radiant barriers are the perfect answer to improving the existing insulation of a home or office. Rather than slowing or blocking radiant heat from penetrating through, radiant barriers will actually reflect up to 97% of the heat. Surprisingly, radiant barriers do not have an R-value, but are rated on emissivity and reflectivity.
Common installation points are either in the attic or a crawl space underneath the structure. Much like the other types of insulation, there are a few different types of radiant barriers available. Depending upon the location of the installation, one may serve better than another. The different types are perforated, solid or double-sided radiant barriers. The installer should know which type will provide the most benefit specific to the application. Many building codes will also dictate when to use a specific type.
Another major concern with insulation is with regards to mold and insect infestation. Eliminating the chances of mold or insects is affected by the manner in which the insulation is installed and the proper ventilation of the building envelope. Improper installation of insulation can actually increase the chances of mold and insect intrusion. The professional installer should have the experience to install the insulation properly and explain to the customer the process and reasons.