In today’s world a few trends are strong a work in the world of home-improvement. The economic challenges are causing property owners to look hard for ways to save money. This often means going to DIY route and looking for ways to reduce the regular expense of owning a home.
Another strong force in the home-improvement arena is the move toward greener homes. Owners are taking the amount of energy they use seriously and looking for ways to reduce the impact they have on the environment. More efficient homes are the goal.
The ideas combine in one very popular, if not glamorous, home-improvement project, upgrading or replacing your insulation. Insulation is great when it’s all finished and you don’t have to think about it, but installing it is a daunting thought for many. To help, we’ve put together some helpful tips for installing insulation.
Rolls, Batts, or Blown
Insulation comes in three basic forms and each has a different installation technique.
Rolls – This is the most commonly known type of insulation, probably due to large television advertising campaigns that show a colorful cartoon character easily rolling out insulation in an attic. Rolls are actually great for attic insulation, especially DIY.
Batts – Insulation also comes in straight sections, often 8’ long, known as batts. These are excellent for wall insulation jobs and are designed to fit perfectly between the studs in a wood frame wall.
Blown – Often the realm of only professional insulation contractors, blown insulation comes in large bags which are dumped into a machine. The machine then uses low pressure air to blow the insulation out of a hose. The machines can be rented though, and it makes for quick work. Blown insulation is really not a great DIY project, however.
Thickness, Width, R-Value
The next thing you want to be sure of is exactly what you need in your insulation.
If you’re using batts and they are to go between wood framing members, then you need to know exactly what width you need. They can be cut for odd widths, but the job is much better if they fit easily.
If you’re using rolls and you’re going over what is already in your attic, in other words over top of framing and not in-between, then the width isn’t as important to you and you probably want as wide as you can get to make the installation quicker.
When it comes to thickness, which often relates to R-Value (an efficiency measurement), you want to consider the space you have available. In an attic, you may easily have room for 10” thick R-30 insulation, but in a wall, you might be limited to 4” thick R-11.
Budget considerations aside, it generally makes the most sense to use as thick as will fit. but don’t compress thicker insulation into a narrow wall cavity. You’ll just spend more money and do yourself no good at all.
Encapsulated Is Very Nice
A modern rendition of fiberglass insulation is what is known as “encapsulated” insulation. This type of insulation is fully encased in a plastic sleeve so as to protect the installer from contact with the fiberglass. This makes installation a breeze.
For rolls in an attic, it is usually as simple as just rolling it out. The challenges come into play around HVAC ductwork and equipment and at tight eaves, but it’s more a matter of flexibility than technical skill. One thing to be careful for is not to jam insulation up into your eaves and thereby cut-off air-flow through your attic.
For batts in walls, the tool of choice is a staple gun. Manual, electric, and air-powered models are available. The one you choose will be based on how much you need to do. For a single room, a manual staple gun is fine, but for a whole house, you might want the pneumatic version.
Tips For Non-Encapsulated
If you find yourself installing paper backed or fully exposed fiberglass insulation, you just want to protect your skin. Long sleeves, gloves, and long pants are essential for insulation work. Face protection and a dust mask are also of great benefit.
If you happen to get some on your skin, and you probably will, a trick-of-the-trade is to use a wad of masking tape, as much sticky side out as you can get, and dab it against your skin. The adhesive on the tape will lift the particles of fiberglass from your skin and help prevent too much itchy irritation.
Benefits For Years To Come
Upgrading your insulation is a project that can make a real difference in the long-term efficiency in your home and immediate improvement in the comfort level indoors. It’s a project you won’t regret.