Flexible insulation is the most widely used insulation in residential housing. This soft flexible material is made from fiberglass, and is commonly used in floors, walls, ceilings, and roofs. It can be purchased by the roll and cut to length for stud cavities, or rolled out to length in attics. Batts can also be purchased and are pre-cut for easy handling when insulating ceilings or crawl spaces. Both styles are made to fit traditional 16 or 24 inch framing, and can be purchased with or without a vapor barrier. Flexible insulation is effective in all types of climates and is easy to install. There is a risk of exposure to glass fibers when installing flexible insulation, so protecting yourself with gloves, long sleeves, and a dust mask is recommended.
Rigid Foam Board Panels
Foam boards are rigid panels that are widely used for insulating foundation walls or under concrete slabs. Panels can also be applied over exterior wall sheathing when installing new siding to increase the r-value of the wall. On cathedral style ceilings, panels can be installed below the sheathing on a roof. Foam board insulation comes in rigid panels 2 to 4 feet wide, and 8 feet in length. These rigid panels are an ideal insulator and add rigidity to the structure. They are made from polystyrene and polyurethane materials, and can be used in any type of climate.
This form of insulation is an ideal type to use when insulating areas which are difficult to reach. It’s an effective insulator to use in truss cavities or in areas containing pipes, wires, or duct work. Loose fill can be purchased in bags and poured into the cavities, or it can be blown-in professionally using pneumatic equipment. Blown-in is a popular method used to insulate older homes without the worry of removing any interior finished wall surfaces. Loose fill insulation is made from fiberglass or cellulose, and is efficient in all climates. Because it has a fiberglass component, personal protection should be worn to prevent exposure to the glass fibers.
Foam products come in two forms, foamed-in-place or spray cans. The Foamed-in-place product is sprayed into framing cavities of a structure by professionals using specialized equipment. This expands and then hardens to form both an air tight seal and add stability to the structure. Small spray cans be purchased by a homeowner to seal small cracks, or insulate around windows and doors to eliminate heat loss.