Choosing an insulation for your home is a little different than selecting kitchen cabinets or a new floor covering – it’s a material that’s rarely seen after being installed. However, the type of insulation you pick can have a major impact on your monthly budget and the air quality of your home in a way that the cabinets and floor covering never will.
In the past choosing a wall insulation was easy, fibreglass batt insulation had been used in homes for many years. The only option was R-value and even that was largely dictated by the thickness of your exterior walls. The effort to make homes more energy efficient has resulted in a new insulation technology: polyurethane spray foam. While polyurethane spray foam has been used in residential construction for quite some time, it has only recently been used to provide a complete insulation envelope for houses. How does the material compare to traditional fibreglass batts?
Take a look and you be the judge:
Moisture – if you’ve ever been in a home after a water leak or flood, you know the affected fibreglass insulation is one of the first materials that must be removed. Fibreglass batts absorb water and can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew if not discarded after getting wet.
On the other hand, closed-cell spray insulation is resistant to the growth and spread of these fungi that may be damaging to your family’s health.
Air infiltration – spray foam insulation is an air barrier in your wall cavities, joist headers, or in selected areas of your attic like the top plate of perimeter walls. With closed-cell spray foam, it’s almost impossible for outside air to enter your home and for warm humid air to escape. While fibreglass batts are a good product, they only work as well as their installation in preventing air from finding its way into or out of your house. They do not stop air flow but rely on poly vapour barriers and other sealants to do so. Loose staples, gaps around electrical outlets, and spaces around window jambs can all cause your energy costs to rise.
Structural strength – while fibreglass batts can insulate your home, closed cell polyurethane spray foam can do that and add additional strength to your home’s structural integrity – an important consideration for areas prone to strong winds and storms.
Come to think of it – choosing a wall insulation may still be an easy decision.