Understanding the Features of Your Home's Insulation

Building a new home from the ground up means thinking about many topics that you might typically ignore. Your home's insulation sits happily out of sight and out of mind, but that doesn't mean it isn't providing you with a valuable service. Insulation is critical to keeping your home comfortable and efficient through all seasons.

However, modern insulation is more complex than the traditional fiberglass batts and kraft-faced fiberglass from years past. While these options are still available, newer technologies such as spray foam, mineral wool, and cellulose are becoming more commonplace. Understanding how insulation can vary between types will help you select the best option for your new home.

R-Value: What It Is and Isn't

R-value is usually the headline number when selecting an insulation product. R-values provide a quick, at-a-glance way to compare heat transfer resistance between materials. A product with a higher value will do a better job at resisting the transfer of heating between the inside and outside of your home, while a lower R-value product will perform more poorly.

When considering the r-value of your insulation, you should be aware of a few caveats. First, manufacturers often list R-values per inch. In other words, you can stack more material to achieve a higher total R-value with a lower-performing product. While you can only fit so much insulation in a wall, this approach can be helpful in unfinished spaces such as attics, basements, and crawlspaces.

It's also crucial to understand the R-value only tells you how well your insulation will resist heat transfer. A high r-value won't necessarily stop drafts or moisture. These limitations can be worth considering if you live in an area with high humidity or severe weather threats.

Additional Features: Air and Vapor Barriers

Higher-end insulation products, such as spray foam insulation, provide additional protection in the form of an air and vapor barrier. The nature of these products means that water and air cannot pass through them. As a result, your home will be more resistant to drafts and less likely to pick up excess humidity from the environment.

You can also add vapor barriers to your home when using other forms of insulation. These barriers can help keep your home more comfortable while protecting your studs and other structural elements from excess moisture. These barriers are a standard option in climates with high humidity and may be worth considering if you're using traditional products such as fiberglass insulation.

Interior air barriers are another option to improve the efficiency of your insulation. These barriers attempt to prevent air movement into and through your insulation, reducing HVAC losses and helping to prevent drafts. While spray foam insulation products naturally block airflow, you can install interior air barriers over other types of insulation as well. 

For more information, look to a company such as All Seasons Building Materials Company, Inc.