Attic insulation essentially has the highest cost per benefit ratio and the fastest payback period. This is one insulation that shows immediate results and is a highly recommended improvement.

There are two types of attic insulation methods available in the market now, namely batt and blown in. Some of you might consider attic batt insulation method as it’s DIY which could potentially save you on labor cost. On the other hand, attic blown in insulation requires the services of professionals to do the installation for you as it requires special blowing equipments.

In terms of results, both system deliver excellent insulation results. However, if you intend to do the job with batts, you had better be a patient and detail oriented individual as the job required in batt insulation to achieve the same result as in blown in insulation might be twice or even three times higher than that in blown in insulation. Take for example, blown in fiberglass is able to create a seamless blanket in your attic whereas to a achieve the same effectiveness in fiberglass batts insulation, you might spend many hours kneeling in your attic to get the job done. The reason for this is that the thermal performance of fiberglass insulation is directly related to its ability to trap and maintain very small pockets of air and blown in fiberglass insulation is able to achieve that result with less job done.

Other difference includes thermal performance or resistance to heat flow (R-factor) in both systems. For example, fiberglass batts offers a slight advantage in which you usually obtain an R-factor slightly higher per inch of material compared to blown in fiberglass.

Other than this, attic batts insulation also offers a uniform R-factor after the material is installed and expanded to the uniform and manufactured thickness. Attic blown in insulation might not be the same in this case whereby the thickness can vary in attic space. This will lead to non-uniform R-values for blown in insulation.

In the case of cost comparison, you may think that blown in insulation will cost most but you maybe surprised after you find out. For example, to upgrade a 1,500 square foot attic from R-19 to the new thermal standard of R-49 may costs around $0.40 per square foot or $600 for blown in fiberglass installed by a professional. On the other hand, batts insulation may cost more than $0.40 per square foot in some local retail outlet and that price is just the material cost only. Clearly it made better sense to have the job done by professionals.

My advice is if you can find deeply discounted batts insulation, you possibly can tackle the job and save some money by DIY. Remember to wear a respirator to minimize throat irritation from airborne glass particles. Gloves, long sleeved shirts and goggles are also highly recommended. Be sure to take your time while installing the batts around roof framing members.

This zone map shows you how much R-value you should have depending upon where you live. GRAPHIC CREDIT: US Department of Energy

This zone map shows you how much R-value you should have depending upon where you live. GRAPHIC CREDIT: US Department of Energy

R-values Diagram

R-values needed in ceilings, walls and floors for your zone. GRAPHIC CREDIT: US Department of Energy

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