Insulation is an important part of building a house. If you’re looking for an insulation installation guide, then you’ve come to the right place. Learn how to install insulation to keep your house safe and warm today. Hearing the word “fiberglass” may deter you, but don’t let it. Fiberglass is one of the most useful materials used in construction as it has many properties that make life easier and safer for our families.
What Is Fiberglass Insulation?
Fiberglass insulation is the most popular type of insulation and one of the only insulations used in residential buildings and houses. Fiberglass is also called glass wool because it is made of fine glass fibers.
Insulation is used to keep houses easy to heat and cool. It is easy to install and is affordable for any home. There are many different thicknesses as well, the thicker insulation being more expensive.
Fiberglass is made when molten glass is spun into fibers and coated with a liquid binder. The pieces are torn into even smaller pieces and cooled while dropped onto a conveyor belt, which is then dropped into a pile.
The piles are pulled through to form a blanket of tangled fibers that will eventually be cut into pieces of fiberglass insulation.
How Does Fiberglass Insulation Work?
Most of us know what fiberglass insulation is, but do you know why it works so well to regulate temperatures? It slows the spread of heat and cold in a building by trapping pockets of air, keeping rooms warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.
It doesn’t stop air movement completely but rather slows it. The thicker the insulation, the less the air movement will be. Insulation traps air in and doesn’t let air into the house either. This is how most insulation works.
Types Of Insulation
The primary way to separate the different types of insulation is with one letter. The letter R. The higher the R-value number, the thicker the insulation is and the better it insulates. The insulation you need depends on your frame, among other things.
Most homes with 2-by-4 frames need R-13 insulation, while those with 2-by-6 frames need R-19 insulation. But when it comes to attics, which won’t generally be covered, you will probably need R-30 and R-40.
Other Insulation Materials
Fiberglass may be the most popular type of insulation, but it’s not the only one. There are a few other types of insulation that can work just as well. Some are cheaper, others are safer. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
- Cellulose: Cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper products. Borate is also added to make the material fire-resistant. The insulation looks like fluff you’d pull from a mattress and is applied with a hose.
- Foam: Foam insulation can be made from polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, or polyurethane. Or in short, plastic. Foam insulation is often sprayed on just like expanding foam which is used to insulate around windows and doors.
- Mineral wool: Mineral wool is a type of insulation that can be one of two kinds of wool. One is a man-made material made from a combination of natural minerals while the other is a waste product. Both look similar to fiberglass insulation.
- Cotton, Straw, Etc: You can use many different types of natural materials to make insulation. Such as cotton, wool, or straw. This type is not naturally fire-resistant but can be treated to be.
- Denim: Yes, that kind of denim. You can use old denim to create great insulation. You can even buy denim insulation but it will be more expensive than fiberglass insulation. The point is to recycle it.
How To Install Insulation?
Anyone can install insulation if they learn how to do so. The most common type of insulation comes in rolls or bats, which work very similarly. This is what you’ll use to insulate most of your home, whether done DIY or by a professional.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you take all the safety precautions that you need to take. Opening a window is always preferred, but wearing gloves, goggles, and even a mask is even better.
It’s a good idea to keep a set of safety equipment on hand whenever you do this type of work. It can also help to wear pants, shoes, and long sleeves as the fiberglass can irritate exposed skin.
Measuring for insulation isn’t difficult. This is because it doesn’t need to be quite as precise as drywall, or something else that will be visible. This is for practical use, rather than for the way that it looks as well.
Cutting the insulation isn’t as difficult as it seems. It is much easier than cutting drywall, which can be a chore. To cut insulation, you take a utility or drywall knife and press down on the insulation with your other hand.
Push the knife up to about 2 or 3 inches, depending on the thickness. Then, slice all the way down like you’re scoring it. Make sure to place it on something that won’t get cut, or you won’t mind cutting.
You may need to go over the line a few times to make sure that it is cut all the way through.
Some people prefer to secure their insulation with wire, but this isn’t technically necessary. What you can do is staple the insulation to the studs, ensuring that the stapling is done on the sides rather than the ends of the boards.
There should be little flaps of paper on the insulation that will act as an edge you can staple down. The paper is sort of a moisture barrier and can protect you from the fiberglass later on.
Using a staple gun and a staple hammer both work equally well, though a staple hammer is a bit harder to control. However, it is safer for beginners as staple guns have been known to cause injuries.
Expanding Foam Touch-Ups
After you’ve stapled down the insulation, you can then fill in any remaining gaps with expanding foam. Fill in the areas around windows and doors, as well as any areas that the insulation won’t cover.
After you are finished insulating, you can cover the walls. Don’t forget to cut any holes for electrical outlets and switches in both the insulation and the drywall, paneling, or plaster. Still don’t know what to use?
Check out our guide on drywall and plaster. Which is better? Which one is right for you?
Where To Insulate
Now that you know how to insulate, it’s time to find out where to insulate.
Attics And Ceilings
This is probably the first place you think of insulating. Attics and ceilings for flat roofs can get frigid in the winter. Insulating them can keep your entire house warmer and cut down on energy bills by a lot.
If you opt-out of an attic for the open ceilings, then you need to insulate them well. If you want exposed beams, you will have to insulate the ceiling you have then create another layer for the new beams.
Of course! Any wall that has the outdoors on the other side needs to be insulated. This is the number one place that you need to insulate even if you leave everywhere else out. Without this insulation, you won’t stay warm or cool.
The floors underneath you do need to be insulated. You can do this as you go or crawl under the house and do it afterward if you forget to while you’re putting down the base of your home. Either way, it needs to be done.
Not all basements need fully insulated because concrete is already an insulator. But any wood exposed in the basement will need to be insulated, especially the floors of your upper levels which is the ceiling of the basement.
Insulating ductwork is necessary if you want your central air to do its best work. You will probably need to get a professional to install the insulation for your ductwork. But don’t worry, the money will come back to you with this one.
A lot of people forget to insulate part of their dormers. This can really cause problems because any area of your house that isn’t insulated can reduce the effectiveness of the rest of the insulated house.
Optional – Interior Walls
This won’t really help with heating and cooling, but it can be helpful if you want a better sound barrier. Soundproofing a room starts with good insulation. If you’re a parent of older kids, you probably need this!
When To Hire A Professional
It’s never a bad idea to hire a professional to insulate your house. The only downside is cost. So, if you can afford it, then go for it. If you’re on the edge, then ask yourself if you believe that your DIY job will last.
If it will, then do it yourself and save money. It’s always a good thing to learn a new trade. So, embrace the moment!