Insulation reduces or eliminates the flow of heat, moisture or shock from one area to another. It is critical to maintaining a comfortable and energy efficient home or business. There are three kinds of insulation used in commercial and residential buildings: fiberglass batt or roll insulation, loose fill or blown insulation and spray foam insulation. In selecting an insulation type, consider your climate and the nature of your project. Are you sealing air leaks? Is there potential damage from moisture, rodents or insects? Do you want to reflect radiant heat or sunlight? How important are energy cost savings? Many things come into play.
As a general rule, batt (roll) insulation is lower cost, easy to install but is not very air tight. Loose fill or blown insulation is also lower cost and relatively easy to install but is not very air tight, and can be susceptible to moisture damage and nesting from rodents. Spray foam is air tight and provides superior energy savings but requires professional installation and is generally more expensive.
The effectiveness of insulation is measured by “R-value”, or the ability to resist the flow of heat. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation is at resisting heat flow. Optimal R-values are determined by climate, construction type of the building (brick, wood frame, etc.) and where the insulation will be used (attic, ceiling, wall, floor, etc). R-values can range from R-1 to R-60. As a benchmark, one inch of solid wood produces an R-value of R-1. As you might expect, insulation with higher R-values can produce greater energy savings in more extreme climates.