It’s so cold outside. You find yourself looking up and wondering if the attic needs better protection from this winter weather. It’s been awhile since that upstairs under the roof got an upgrade. You’re ready to make some improvements, but you want to make sure you’re choosing the best attic insulation.
How do you decide on the right type and materials for your home? Should you hire a pro to do the job even if you know how to insulate an attic?
When our teams deal with attic insulation, it’s usually through our residential restoration services. Not all materials can handle getting wet, and some are more fire-resistant than others.
Your choice in insulation can make a real difference in cleanup and mitigation after a burst pipe or house fire.
Blown-In, Spray Foam, Batts and Blankets: Understanding Insulation
Your options for attic insulation range from radiant barriers to sheets of mineral wool, but most homeowners stick with products made from cellulose or fiberglass.
We offer our review of the three most popular types of attic insulation with a look at each one’s pros and cons.
Blown-In Attic Insulation
We start with this common type of insulation and a word of caution. Our teams recently helped a homeowner clean up after burst pipes in the attic. The situation was made much worse by the attic’s blown-in cellulose insulation.
Once the material becomes wet, it’s very difficult to clean up.
In this case, we worked with the insurance company and took care of packing out belongings in the attic. However, that service does add to the cost of restoration.
We include blown-in attic insulation pros and cons, but we can’t recommend blown-in fiberglass or cellulose as your best insulating choice.
1. Insulation efficiently fills gaps.
2. Materials can be layered for added protection.
3. Blown-in insulation flows down around wall studs.
4. Blown-in fiberglass is considered flame resistant.
5. Most blown-in cellulose materials are non-toxic.
1. This type of insulation requires professional installation.
2. Installation projects can be very messy.
3. The weight of blown-in cellulose can cause ceiling sag.
4. Damp blown-in insulation can promote fungal growth.
5. The material becomes very problematic when wet.
Spray Foam Attic Insulation
As you compare spray foam attic insulation pros and cons, keep in mind that the material is available as an open-cell or closed-cell polyurethane spray foam. There are significant differences between the two, but they both have the following in common.
1. Both foams have high R-values.
2. Foam insulation dries hard creating an excellent air barrier.
3. The material fills tight, hard-to-reach spaces.
4. Spray foam can be applied to attic ceilings.
1. Spray foams are often more expensive than other insulation types.
2. Both open- and closed-cell foams require professional application.
3. Chemicals in spray foam can pose health hazards to installers.
Fiberglass Batts and Blankets
Fiberglass is formed from long, interwoven fibers of finely spun glass and held together with adhesive backings. Pre-cut sheets are called batts while large rolls of fiberglass insulation are called blankets.
1. Fiberglass doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.
2. The material is very fire-resistant.
3. Batts and blankets hold up well to burst pipe water damage.
4. Fiberglass is considered the best attic insulation for DIY projects.
1. Batts don’t fit well in odd spaces.
2. Batts and blankets can leave gaps and voids.
3. The material tends to compress over time.
4. Working with fiberglass insulation requires wearing personal protection gear.
Don’t Forget Attic Pipes
While we’re focused on the attic, let’s consider the pipes that run through this chilly part of the house. Attic insulation protects the area from freezing temperatures, but we recommend insulating plumbing lines too.
This tactic helps minimize the risk of frozen burst pipes causing serious water damage from the attic down to the basement.
Home improvement stores carry a wide range of easy-to-use pipe insulation products including styrofoam rolls and sprays.
A combination of foam and double batt insulation also works very well on pipes in the attic. Many homeowners like this duo because its noise-absorbing qualities help keep the house a little quieter.
We’re Here to Help
You might not need to replace the attic’s insulation this year, but take a good look at it the next time you’re up there. Think about how an upgrade can save on heating and cooling costs, consider our review, and do a little more research. We want you to make the best insulation decision for your attic and your budget.
We enjoy sharing our industry knowledge and experiences from the field, and we hope it all makes life a little easier and safer around your home. Stay tuned for more posts filled with solid information and great ideas you can use every day.
ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba proudly stands as the leading water damage restoration contractor in Chicago and the suburbs. We’re always here to help: 773-647-1985