Different Types of Insulation & the R Value of Insulation

Controlling summer’s heat, winter’s frost, and the temperatures in-between account for 50% or more of the energy used in the average American household; this is why R value is so important.

What is R Value? R value is the term used to describe thermal resistance, or how effective insulation material is in resisting heat. High Insulation R values equal effective material, which means more appropriate levels of heat and cool energy throughout the year. Measurement of R value is determined by the density, thickness, and type of material used.

Different Types of Insulation

Generally, there are four types of insulation material:

  • Foam-in-place
  • Loose-fill
  • Rigid foam
  • Rolls and Batts (or blankets)

R Values and Benefits For basements in America, the recommended average R value of insulation material is R-12. Keeping this in mind, here is a rundown of the four main types of insulation material:

Foam-in-place insulation This type of foam insulation is applied to finished areas that need extra insulation because of factors such as cracks or air leakage through doors and windows. Spray foam insulation is one of the most popular forms of this type of insulation. Cementitous, phenolic, polyisocynurate, and polyurethane are four material types of spray foam insulation. High Density polyurethane foam alone has an R value of around 6.8.

Loose-fill Loose-fill insulation, which must be blown in to be installed, is best saved for places where other forms of insulation are not well-suited, such as attic floors and places that are difficult to reach. Cellulose (as loose or pellet fibers), fiberglass, or rock wool are generally the types of material used in loose-fill insulation. Blown cellulose carries an insulation R value of 3.7, and fiberglass holds an R value of 3.14.

Rigid Foam The beauty of rigid foam insulation is that you get little thickness with high insulation R values, which fit places with limited spacing. Though installing foam tends to me more expensive that installing fiber, you can breathe easier with R values from 4-6.5. Materials under rigid insulation foam include polystyrene and polyurethane spray foam.

Rolls and Batts (or blankets) This form of insulation is possibly the best for do-it-yourself projects, since it can be installed with relative ease. Generally used in unfinished ceilings, floors, and walls. Types of roles and batts include fiberglass, mineral wool, and both plastic and natural fibers. Batt fiberglass carries an R value of 3.1.

Though the information above will help you search for the best insulation material, do understand that climate and temperature play a defining role in determining what R value is best for your home.

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