Are Insulation Boards Better Than Rolls?

Insulation boards provide higher R-value than roll insulation. They are more versatile and can be used inside and outside the building. Roll insulation is less expensive and requires less time and precision to install.

Both products provide good insulation value when used in the proper situations. Homeowner choice depends on budget, the space and area being insulated, and the preferred R-value.

Are Insulation Boards Better Than Rolls?

Insulation Rolls

Insulation rolls–also called blanket insulation–are used to insulate stud, joist, and rafter cavities. It is also popular for insulating attic floors. Blanket insulation is also available in batt form. Some rolled insulation is “faced” to provide a vapor barrier.

Types of Insulation Rolls

Fiberglass is the most popular rolled insulation, but other products are also available.

  • Fiberglass Rolls. Approximately R-3.5 per inch. Faced or unfaced. Multiple sizes. Inexpensive. Most common insulation product. Readily available.
  • Mineral Wool Rolls. Approximately R-3.2 per inch. Unfaced only. Multiple sizes. Semi-rigid. Excellent soundproofing.
  • Sheep Wool Rolls. Approximately R-4.3 per inch. Unfaced only. Multiple sizes. All natural. Expensive.
  • Denim Rolls. Approximately R-3.5 per inch. Unfaced only. Multiple sizes but inconsistent. Difficult to fit properly. Expensive.


Blanket insulation–rolls or batts–is used more than any other insulation product. Fiberglass dominates the market.

  • Inexpensive. Fiberglass is the least expensive insulation available.
  • Installation. Easy and quick DIY project.
  • Cavities. Manufactured specifically to fit stud cavities. Various thicknesses.
  • Flexible. Easy to cut and fit around obstructions.


Rolled insulation is a very good product when used as designed, but it does have limitations.

  • Moisture. Absorbs moisture. Has little insulation value when wet.
  • Non-compressible. Reduced R-value if compressed.
  • Health. Can be itchy. Breathing in fibers can cause lung problems.

Insulation Boards

Rigid insulation boards are used to insulate all parts of buildings. Basement walls–interior and interior. Above grade walls–interior and exterior. Attics and roofs. Rigid insulation between studs.

Courtesy: – Three types of popular insulation boards.

Types of Insulation Boards

All insulation boards are rigid and available in multiple sizes and thicknesses. They are moisture resistant but flammable and must be shielded with non-combustible material like drywall.

  • Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). Approximately R-3.8 to R-4.2 per inch.
  • Extruded Polystyrene (XPS). Approximately R-5.0 per inch.
  • Polyisocyanurate (ISO, PIR). Approximately R-6.5 per inch.


Insulation boards are very versatile and provide excellent R-values for the money invested.

  • R-value. Better R-values than most roll insulation.
  • Moisture Resistant. Does not require a vapor barrier.
  • Installation. Easy and safe to install.
  • Space Saving. Requires less floor space because of higher R-values.


Cost is the biggest difference between Insulation boards and rolls.

  • Expensive. Costs twice as much as fiberglass.
  • Combustible. Must be covered with non-combustible product.
  • Installation. Can be time consuming.

How To Choose

The versatility and higher R-value of rigid insulation boards make them the all-round better choice. The boards can be used from basement to roof–interior and exterior. Higher R-values provide more long-term energy cost savings.

However, if cost and/or time constraints are important considerations, roll insulation is a valid option.

Both types of products meet the International Residential Code and most local building codes. Northern building codes may require higher R-values but not different insulation.