All About Insulation - Tips and Materials

Learn how to install and improve it with unconventional items

There are a number of reasons to know all you should about insulation. Insulation, when used properly, will add thermal comfort, reduce unwanted heat loss or gain and decrease a building's energy demand.

Today's market presents multiple solutions and systems that can be used in your construction project. From spray-on insulation to insulating materials, all materials are compared and evaluated using their R-Value, a value that represents the effectiveness and insulation property of the material. Below are some alternatives that you can use as insulating materials as well as tips to follow when installing insulation.

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How to Install Wall Insulation

Wall insulation
  Glowimages / Getty Images

Installing insulation is not a difficult task to complete. However, it is a very important component of a building and a proper insulation installation will result in a comfortable building and can reduce energy costs.

Most older homes lack wall insulation, but homes with wall insulation can prevent heat from escaping during the wintertime and heat from coming in during the summertime. In other words, insulation reduces energy costs by making it less necessary to run your heater when it's cold or your air conditioner when it's hot.

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Spray-On Insulation

Spray on foam insulation
  BanksPhotos / Getty Images 

How does closed-cell insulation compare to open-cell insulation? Spray-on foam insulation is commonly used in buildings. In open-cell foam, the cells of the insulation foam aren't fully closed, allowing air to fill all the 'open' space in the material.

In closed-cell foam, the opposite occurs. The tiny cells of the foam are closed. They are filled with a gas that then helps the foam expand to provide insulation.

Decide which kind of spray-on foam works best for your project with this review.

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Improving Insulation Using House Wrap

Workers in a house installing insulation wrap.

FEMA Photo Library / Wikimedia Commons

House wrap is defined as all synthetic materials that replace sheathing paper. House wraps are a lightweight material and wider than asphalt designs, allowing a faster installation procedure by builders and contractors.

House wrap is a desirable material for builders concerned about preventing moisture from entering the wall cavity. Moisture in the walls can lead to mold, termites and other problems.

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Structural Insulated Panels

Structural Insulated Panels (SIP's) are used in floors, walls, and roofs providing an extremely durable, strong and energy-efficient high-performance material. 

The panels include an insulating foam core positioned between oriented strand board or another structural facing. The way SIPs are manufactured leads to a building system that is not only strong and energy efficient but also relatively inexpensive.

SIPs are said to save builders time, which can be crucial when constructing a property under a tight deadline. 

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Insulated Concrete Forms

Not only home builders but also approximately one-third of Insulated Concrete Forms structures are non-residential, according to the Insulating Concrete Form Association. The mission of the ICFA is for insulated concrete forms to become one of the most common building methods in North America. 

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Insulated Vinyl Siding

Insulated vinyl siding is an alternative to costly siding materials. Although some contractors still prefer traditional vinyl siding, the insulated version offers a new competitive edge providing several benefits for homeowners and builders.