The insulation of the attic: the most practical types of thermal insulation

Keeping your home comfortable and energy-efficient requires that your attic be properly insulated. Since heat naturally rises, the attic is a great place to lose heat in the winter and gain heat in the summer. Good insulation lowers energy costs by minimizing the need for heating and cooling, in addition to aiding in the regulation of indoor temperatures. We look at some of the most useful kinds of thermal insulation in this guide to help you improve the efficiency of your attic.

One of the most popular and affordable types of attic insulation is fiberglass insulation. It is made up of microscopic glass fibers that trap air and prevent the transfer of heat. Installing fiberglass insulation between attic joists and rafters is simple and comes in rolls or batts. In addition to being lightweight and fireproof, it has good thermal performance. For it to work as well as possible, it must be installed correctly, with no gaps or compression that could lessen its insulating qualities.

Cellulose insulation is another well-liked option; it is created from recycled paper products that have been fire-treated. It offers superior thermal performance and is safe for the environment. The attic space is filled with cellulose insulation, which is sprayed or blown in to fill in gaps and take on irregular shapes. Compared to fiberglass, this seamless covering contributes to the creation of a more airtight barrier. For optimal coverage and even distribution during installation, it’s crucial to work with a professional.

Insulation made of spray foam has excellent air sealing and heat resistance. It is made up of two chemicals that react when combined to form an expanding foam that solidifies and provides insulation. The walls, floors, and ceilings of an attic can all be directly coated with spray foam to create a continuous barrier that lowers air leakage and strengthens the structure. Although spray foam is more costly than other insulation options, it offers better indoor comfort and long-term energy savings.

Requirements for heat -insulating materials for the attic

If the issue of how to insulate your home’s attic is already on your mind, we advise you to consider both currently available modern materials and those that have been tried and tested for centuries:

Each material has unique weight, durability, and thermal conductivity indicators:

These materials come in a variety of forms, from foam to mats:

We will state right away that we will not be using polystyrene and polystyrene foam as attic insulation in this article. The truth is that they are not environmentally friendly and highly fuel-intensive. Furthermore, when burning, these incredibly light synthetic plates can distinguish between harmful materials and melt in a fire.

Thin granule technology is used to create both of these materials. High pressure is used to mix them, then a foaming reagent is added and squeezed out. The end product is a material that is extremely warm, has a good vapor barrier, and is decay-resistant. Professional roofers do not, however, advise applying it to the roof.

It makes sense that all producers of thermal insulation are distributing their goods and drawing clients’ attention to the drawbacks of rival companies. It is true that all insulation has benefits and drawbacks; you just need to decide which of them you are willing to accept in order to maximize sales. All we’ll do is give you an exhaustive review.

Intertwined fibers: how good mats, rolls and soft cotton wool are good

Thus, let’s begin with the most practical form for attic ceiling insulation: rolls and mats. Typically, they consist of finely woven mineral fibers that are taken from solid materials. You wonder, how can that be? Indeed, stone cotton wool is actually stone. In a special furnace, any breed—be it basalt, glass, or slag—melts and expands into thin fibers. They are already producing elastic, soft thermal insulation out of them. Additionally, one that is long-lasting.

Of course, using mineral mats is the most convenient. Simple to cut and inserted between the bars of the dispersal overlap, it completely eliminates the possibility that the so-called "cold bridges" will appear. In this instance, the entire insulation of the chilly attic requires the energy of half a day:

It is convenient to insulate the attic’s overlap in two layers with the laying of the boost slabs if you do not initially intend to walk inside. However, if you intend to convert the attic into a fully functional room in the future, you should first carefully consider the floor lag system. Furthermore, to prevent random damage, the insulation itself needs to be sealed from above:

In real life, a floor system like this looks like this. This option used more expensive, but long-lasting, basalt for the upper layer and less expensive glass wool for the lower:

Because it’s completely closed, prickly glass wool needles won’t fly through the air, and the insulation ended up being relatively inexpensive.

There is a discernible distinction between stone cotton wool and glass. Glass cotton wool actually dusts, but it also releases thousands of tiny needles into the atmosphere that are dangerous to breathe in but invisible to the unaided eye. These needles irritate the lungs, and when used in large quantities, they can result in dangerous illnesses. Whoever has, at least once, passed the night in an insulated attic knows all too well what unpleasant feelings are.

However, what constitutes poor glass wool for a non-residential attic? The truth is that the wind can carry these tiny particles through the fissures and onto other surfaces. Natural ventilation will eventually blow them slowly away, bringing fresh air into living rooms. As a result, only use this type of insulation with trustworthy isolation. Despite this, a lot of professionals continue to believe that glass wool should never be used in residential buildings. The only possible benefit might be its reasonable cost.

Basalt cotton wool is fantastic for the attic and far more eco-friendly. Even though some people question its environmental friendliness, formaldehyde is not the most harmless substance when it comes to processed finished cotton fibers. It is he who gives stone threads their exceptional water-repellent qualities and makes them smooth and flexible. By the way, Glassy’s story is the same. Thus, the insulation’s operational properties increase with its level of "chemistry." but worse for an individual. Because of this, producers must strike a balance between material durability and environmental safety.

Of course! This is the thesis statement for the "All about the roof" article "The insulation of the attic: the most practical types of thermal insulation": "We examine the best and most straightforward thermal insulation solutions in our guide to attic insulation. We break down the advantages, installation considerations, and suitability for various attic spaces of each type of spray foam, eco-friendly cellulose, and affordable fiberglass batts. Knowing these sensible insulation options can help you make well-informed decisions for your attic insulation project, regardless of your goals—reducing energy costs or improving home comfort, for example."

Fanding materials: almost forgotten technologies

First and foremost, the fact that folding materials precisely fill in all the gaps makes them good. This is particularly crucial in cases where the roof is erratic or the attic has an intricate shape. It is difficult to fit fragments of mineral wool into the small opening at the intersection of slopes.

Vermiculite is regarded as an effective attic insulation material. Working with him is extremely simple: just smooth their hands, pour out of bags, and that’s it.

The structure of the mineral vermiculite is highly intricate. Its granules increase by more than 20 times because the factory heats it to 900–1200 degrees. Because vermiculite’s structure becomes porous, much like puff pastry, this insulation’s low thermal conductivity is guaranteed.

And lastly, a long-forgotten traditional method using sawdust and clay combined. Given how simple it is to obtain sawdust on any sawmill, this is most likely the least expensive option. Particularly the clay, which is abundant in quarries everywhere. It will be far less expensive than other heaters, even if you order all of this material from the builder. Additionally, this combination is friendly to the environment.

Keep in mind that sawdust insulation alone is insufficient for attic insulation. First off, the only sawdust that can be used is stale—possibly even rotted. If not, they pose a fire risk:

Second, and just as importantly, clay functions as an antiseptic in addition to being a binder. However, there is a big drawback to this method: sawdust and clay weigh a lot.

As it turns out, it’s just expanded clay screed, which is why so many roofers have already given up on it.

However, the attic linen Kostroy has excellent insulation. One byproduct of processing flax is called bonfire. It is made up of strong, lignified stems. It is sufficient to nod off in the space between the roughly 150–200 mm high overlapping beams. Additionally, the total load on the attic overlap is up to 20 kg/sq.m. at the same time.

Types of Thermal Insulation Practical Considerations
Fiberglass Cost-effective, easy to install, widely available
Spray Foam Excellent for irregular spaces, high R-value per inch
Cellulose Eco-friendly, good for existing homes, effective air barrier
Rigid Foam High insulation value, moisture resistant, versatile applications

Selecting the appropriate kind of thermal insulation for your attic is essential to keeping your house cozy and energy-efficient. Depending on your budget, climate, and attic layout, there are advantages to using blown-in, spray foam, or batt and roll insulation.

The popularity of rolls and batts can be attributed to their low cost and simple installation. They can be installed around obstructions like wiring and beams and function well in attics with standard joist spacing. Conversely, spray foam offers superior coverage and is highly effective in sealing air leaks, which makes it perfect for attics with multiple obstructions or irregular shapes.

For those seeking adaptability and simplicity of use, blown-in insulation may be the best option. It can fit into any area, covering voids and cracks that other kinds might overlook. Because of this, it works especially well in attics with uneven surfaces or hard-to-reach places.

To optimize energy efficiency, choose an insulation type that satisfies the recommended R-values for your area. If you’re not sure you can handle the installation yourself, think about hiring a professional as proper installation is also essential to getting the best performance out of your insulation.

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Gleb Zuev

Exterior designer, author of books about roofing materials. I will help you make your roof not only reliable, but also beautiful.

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