When it comes to home insulation, we all know that that the question isn’t “should I insulate?” but rather “what type of insulation should I use?”
Properly installed home insulation provides an effective barrier between indoor and outdoor air and is key for home comfort, energy conservation and cost-savings on your utility bills.
There are a wide variety of options available when it comes to home insulation and it is best to educate yourself on the options before making the right choice for your specific home renovation or home addition project in Ottawa.
Batt Home Insulation
Batt insulation comes in pre-cut rolls that are plastic wrapped and ready to roll out. While batt insulation can be found in both wool and cotton varieties, the most popular type is the pink colored fibreglass.
Batt insulation is generally easier to install than other types of insulation and the pre-cut rolls also make it easier to handle.
While batt insulation is an appealing DIY solution, the main drawback is that the rolls may not fit the exact areas that require insulation and therefore some extra cutting and sizing would be required, especially to fit properly inside all the cavities and around any piping. While this takes more time and effort, it pays to do the job right with a precise installation that results in an overall better insulated home.
Loose Fill Insulation
This type of insulation is sold in bags full of loose insulation that needs to be blown into the areas that require insulation. As such, loose-fill insulation is usually done by professional installers who have the proper equipment to do the job right. Loose-fill insulation comes in three common types: cellulose, fibreglass and mineral (rock or slag) wool.
Loose fill insulation has the benefit of great coverage as it can be blown into every crevice of the building structure to ensure no gaps exist in the insulation barrier. It is also a great option when retrofitting an existing home, as it can be blown through drilled holes into existing walls that can then be covered up for no visible impact on your home.
A final benefit to loose fill insulation is that it is environmentally friendly as the insulation is made using recycled material: Cellulose loose-fill is made from recycled boxes and newsprint, fibreglass is made from molten glass and rock wool is made from by-products of blast furnaces.
Boardstock insulation is a rigid type of insulation that is installed across the building frame instead of inside cavities or between studs. It can be installed in roofing, walls, floors and ceilings and is very easy to handle as it is lightweight.
Boardstock comes in three common types: plastic foam, extruded polystyrene, expanded polystyrene and polyisocyanurate.
Boardstock works well as an insulator as it covers over the top of studs and rafters, therefore preventing them from acting as thermal bridges, which are areas where heat or cold can pass through.
Spray foam insulation is considered one of the best types of insulation as it excels in preventing air leakage. Known technically as spray polyurethane foam (SPF), it is mixed on site using specific equipment best handled by professional installers who then use hoses to spray the chemicals into the desired areas.
Spray foam is mixed, sprayed through a heated gun and then foams, expands into the cavity and eventually hardens. It is a messier installation process than other insulation types and requires protective clothing at all times.
This type of insulation comes in two main forms: open cell foams and closed cell foams.
Open cell foams are cheaper but have a lower R-value per inch of installation, therefore a thicker application is required.
Closed cell foams are more expensive but provide a higher R-value per inch, require a less thicker application and have the added benefit of aiding the structural strength of the walls they are applied to due to the high density of the foam.
Comprised of recycled materials such as newspaper, wet-spray cellulose is an environmentally friendly spray insulation that is mixed with water and sprayed through a hose into the desired areas.
Also commonly known as damp-spray cellulose, this application uses water to help adhesion and also includes a borate-based fire retardant to prevent mold growth and discourages rodents from interacting with it.
As with other spray insulations, wet-spray cellulose is a messy insulation and requires protective gear to reduce inhalation of the particles. It should also be professionally installed as the right ratios of water and cellulose are essential for a lasting and effective barrier.