Whether you're building a new home or trying to make your old home weather-tight, the type of insulation you use in your home can affect everything from your home's energy efficiency to how cold it gets inside in the winter. A variety of insulation products are available on the market for use during or after construction, but only a few types are suitable for do-it-yourself homeowners. Other insulation types require professional installation.
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One of the most common types of insulation, fibreglass is available in both a loose fill and a batt or blanket form. The pink insulation you typically find on sale at home improvement stores is batt fibreglass insulation. If you plan to install extra insulation in your home yourself, go with batt fibreglass insulation if the walls are still open or the drywall is easy to remove; but remember, you must cut batt fibreglass insulation down to size to fit between studs.
Cellulose insulation is one of the oldest and most environmentally friendly types of insulation. Made from recycled newspapers and other recycled paper, cellulose is treated with nontoxic fire retardants, according to the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturer's Association. Cellulose is available in a variety of forms, including loose fill or blown-in.
Board insulation types are typically used to insulate between floors and around interior items, such as ductwork. Insulation boards are usually made from plastic foams or a fibrous material, like fibreglass. Board insulation often has the best R-value among insulation types, meaning less heat escapes.
Spray foam is typically used to insulate wall cavities during construction, and a professional must install it. Although spray foam is versatile and has a R-value rating similar to rigid board insulation, spray foam is not recommended for use in basements or other areas close to the ground. Insects, such as carpenter ants and termites, like to nest and tunnel through it.
Denim and Cotton
Denim and cotton are a favourite environmentally friendly do-it-yourself alternative to fibreglass blanket insulation. Typically sold in blanket or batt form, denim and cotton insulation is recycled from material left over after producing consumer items, such as jeans. This type of insulation is also made from a renewable resource.
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- U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Savers: Types of Insulation
- The Natural Handyman: Insulation for Your Home
- Department of Energy: Information Fact Sheet: What Kind of Insulation Is Best?
- Cellulose Information Manufacturers Association: What Types of Insulation Are Available?
- Efficiency Vermont: Types of Insulation