Compare the Top Rated Insulation Brands - Best & Most Popular Insulation Manufacturers
The US Department of Energy has found that the average American home puts 44 percent of its total energy used towards cooling and heating. This makes insulation incredibly important; if your attic, floors, and/or walls do not have the proper level of insulation, a big chunk of the costly cooled or heated air meant for the inside of your home may be making its way outside.
While newer homes tend to be better insulated (providing there was attention provided to energy conservation during construction), older homes are likely to be lacking the proper insulation. Getting an energy audit from a local utility company is the best way to know for sure whether or not your house is correctly insulated.
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How Does Insulation Work?
Simply put, insulation is means of trapping air or gas in pockets. The space in a home’s attic or ceiling, floors, and walls are divided into these pockets. As heat moves through, it warms each individual pocket, slowing down the transfer of heat and providing greater energy efficiency. Without insulation, or even with poorly done insulation, heat can move right through a home because there is no resistance. The resistance that insulation provides in called the Resistance Value, or R-value.
The R-Value of Insulation
R-value is an indication of an insulation material’s effectiveness and resistance to heat, so the higher the R-value the greater it will be as an insulator. This resistance is primarily dependent on they density, thickness, and type of the insulation, but can also be affected by accumulation of moisture, aging, and the temperatures it has endured or will endure. The R-value of multi-layered insulation is calculated by adding the resistance of each individual layer.
Top Insulation Brands
While all insulation has to meet the same standards and qualifications when it comes to content and labels, there are differences that can be found among the brands in the form of features and marketing. Some brands offer things like “no itch” wrapping that helps to keep fibers under control (though you should always wear protective clothing and gear when installing insulation) or paper-faced insulation that allows for easier tucking into the bays. These extras or features may be what makes or breaks a brand for you, so it is important to consider all your options.
- CertainTeed: With a complete line of insulation products, CertainTeed provides solutions that ensure not only proper insulation, but a level of comfort as well. CertainTeed insulation offers better acoustics, control over thermal performance, and moisture management to keep your home exactly where it needs to be.
- Johns Manville: A Berkshire Hathaway company, Johns Manville produces both commercial and residential insulation. Whether you need to insulate your home or business, Johns Manville has everything you need.
- Knauf: One of the largest manufacturers and producers insulation products and services in the world, Knauf offers a variety of insulation solutions to fit any need.
- Owens Corning: Whether you need insulation for your home or your business, Owens Corning is there to help. Owens Corning offers insulation solutions the provide residential comfort while retaining commercial quality.
- Rmax: Perfect for either commercial or residential purposes, Rmax insulation products meet even the newest codes and requirements and provide superior insulation. With multiple design options, construction and energy reduction are a breeze.
- Roxul: Known as Rockwool in North America, this company is the world’s largest manufacturer of stone wool products and the world’s leading manufacturer of stone wool insulation. They offer a range of high-performance insulation products for the construction industry.<
Types of Insulation
There are multiple types of insulation. The type(s) and quantity that you need are dependent on the area you are insulating and the space you have available. Consider the climate of your area as well as the features each type of insulation has to offer.
- Blanket/batts and rolls: This is usually the most familiar type of insulation to homeowners and tends to be the most common insulation for DIY installations. These rolls are easy to install, relatively affordable, and widely available. Keep in mind that the material needs to be cut with a utility knife before installation, so it may take some extra time if the insulation is being installed in joist or non-standard stud spacings.
- Foam board or rigid foam: This insulation is made from multiple materials, such as asphalt-impregnated fiberboard, polyisocyanurate, polystyrene, and polyurethane. The panels may have foil facing on one or both sides in order to reflect heat. Typically used for new construction, these panels can also be used in re-roofing or re-siding and can be installed as roof/wall sheathing, around foundations, or beneath interior walls. Since foam board is classified as combustible, it cannot be left exposed.
- Loose-fill and blown-in: Meant to be blown, poured, or stuffed into place, loose-fill insulation is made from cellulose fiber, expanded perlite and vermiculite, or glass and rock wool fibers. While loose-fill insulation is made from the same spun materials as blankets and batts, it is left loose or made into pellets as opposed to being formed into rolls. This type of insulation is generally used in walls and attics. If you are looking to use blown-in loose-fill insulation, it is best to have it installed by a professional, as its effectiveness as an insulator is a direct result of the application.
- Radiant barrier and reflective: Made from a thin sheet of aluminum or other reflective materials, radiant barriers are laid over attic insulation or secured to rafters. This reflects the heat absorbed by the roof and keeps the attic cooler, which reduces the amount of heat that gets transferred to rest of the home. Reflective insulation is made from aluminum foil and is most useful in climates with extreme heat. This type of insulation is more effective if it is used as a barrier with multiple layers separated by air spaces as opposed to a flat sheet. With multiple spaces, it can reduce heat gain throughout the entire home as opposed to just blocking heat from the roof.
- Spray foam: Spray foam insulation does not shrink or settle once it is in place, which lets it provide a high R-value. This insulation fills in every possible nook and cranny it is applies to, creating a barrier to both air drafts and moisture. It should be installed by professionals who have the proper equipment.
The Importance of Ventilation
Proper ventilation is a necessity when insulating your attic or ceiling. Without sufficient ventilation, air and heat cannot move through the way they need to and you run the risk of condensation buildup and/or mold growth. During the hotter points of the year, ventilation reduces roof temperature and can lengthen the life of your roof.
By combining soffit vents at the eaves of the roof and a continuous ridge vent at the peak of the roof, you can ensure the most effective ventilation. Some places even require either one or both of these in building codes to ensure a home or business has the necessary amount of ventilation. You can also install a baffle, which prevents insulation from blocking the airflow on the underside of the roof.
Additional Insulation Considerations
You would be hard pressed to find any home that doesn’t have several types of insulation. Attic floors are usually insulated with cellulose or fiberglass batts, whereas basement walls are often insulated with foam board. When selecting insulation, it is important that you choose the appropriate material for the location you are insulating. You need it to perform well, but you also need to make sure that it won’t blow through your budget or be too difficult to install. R-value is also an important factor to consider when choosing an insulator. The higher the R-value, the higher the material’s resistance to heat. You also want to look at an insulator’s airflow resistance; as more air passes through a material, more heat or cold can enter or leave the home. However, choosing a product with a lower airflow resistance and R-value does not necessarily mean that it won’t perform well. If a tight air barrier is installed and the appropriate thickness of insulation is used, you can spend less money on what seems like an inferior product and still have a well-insulated home.
Best Insulation for Each Area of Your Home
Insulation is not entirely universal, in that an insulator that works well in one area of a home may not work at all in another. You need to think about the area that you are insulating and the space that is available before fully deciding on which type of insulation you will choose.
- Attic: As with anything, the allotted space in your attic determines what types of insulation can be used. If an attic has a decent amount of headroom, few obstructions, and standard framing, then batts or rolls can work wonderfully. But if your attic has low clearance and irregular spacing, then loose-fill insulation is a better bet, since it can be used to fill hard to reach areas or tight spaces. Overall, loose-fill insulation tends to be the most efficient and cost effectective choice for insulating your attic.
- Basement: Possibly the most important room to insulate, basements are usually insulated with foam boards. Though it can be used either on the exterior or the interior, the panels are generally applied directly to the foundation and walls before being sealed off with sheathing tape. It can also be a good idea to install the foam between the joists located above the basement.
- Floors: Floors are typically an area that can utilize different types of insulation to the same degree of effectiveness. Loose-fill insulation, foam boards, and rolls/batts can all be used; the best option just depends whether the floor has been installed and the type of flooring it is. With an existing floor, loose-fill insulation can be used and is also great for insulating between joists. Rolls/batts tend to be used during new construction, but also work well for insulating between joists. Foam boards are usually placed before pouring a concrete floor and are typically the best option for insulating underneath concrete floors.
- Walls: While denim and mineral wool can be viable options for wall insulation, the most common type of insulator for walls is fiberglass rolls/batts.
Author: Angela Escobar