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Guide to the Different Types of Home Insulation

blog / May 1, 2018

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Guide to the Different Types of Home Insulation

One of the most important parts of your home is the type of insulation you choose. As a custom home builder, it’s often one of the most overlooked items in the decision making process. Today I want to provide you some information on the types of home insulation so you can make the best selection when designing your custom home.

Foundation Insulation

When designing your basement layout, you may start thinking about a flat screen TV and sound system. Before we get to that point, however, you need to consider the foundation before anything.
One of the most important parts of your basement will be the type of installation that is included. We know winters are frigid in Naperville and Chicago, and to avoid having your heater on full blast you can plan ahead by insulating your foundation. Electing to add foam-board insulation to the exterior of your foundation can make a big difference. In essence, what you’re doing is adding a blanket over the cold concrete so when the weather gets cold, you have an added layer of heat to protect your basement and not lose your interior heat. Click here for more information on how the foam boards can protect your basement.

Exterior Foam Boards

Another option for your exterior is to add insulation around the framing of your house before your siding, brick or stucco is added. Since you’re adding a layer of foam board that is going to entirely wrap the exterior of the home, the amount of air getting in and out of your home is minimized.
Because you have added this important foamboard, you now have the option to install 2 x 4 frame interior woodwork as opposed to 2 x 6 boards. The added foam board will help get you to the level of insulation that is required by most city codes. For example, in Naperville you are required to have the exterior walls be filled to an R value of 20, but if you have a continuous R-5 level, the foam board, then only R-13 is required on the inside walls. If you are building a 3,500+ square foot home, this can save you significantly on your wood framing costs.

BAT Insulation

In any area of your interior, exterior walls can, and should, have BAT insulation sheets installed for maximum protection. We want to keep cool air in and hot air out in the summer and vice versa in the winter. The higher the R Value of your insulation, the higher the protection will be. With BAT insulation, the higher value means you will need thicker sheets. This is where choosing to stick with 2 x 6 framing is a nice choice when choosing BAT.
BAT Insulation
The cost for materials is very manageable and installation is a simple as rolling out the sheets and trying to fit the exact height of the exterior wall. When using the insulation sheets, you will end up spending a little more time spent preparing the exterior walls with caulk and spray foam for the given areas for the insulation sheets do not fit. The labor hours are not as significant as the attention to detail that is needed. Imagine yourself looking from all angles of your home top to bottom to see if there are any gaps you may have missed before adding the drywall to close up those exterior wall. That’s the requirement if you want the best protection for your home using insulation sheets.

Spray Insulation

With spray insulation, you are able to pack the insulation tighter for a thicker covering and higher R-value. Spray is often used in attic spaces above the top level of the home where higher R values are needed. The idea is to cover the 2 x 6 boards fully in the attic to avoid any air escaping/entering your home on the top level.
Spray Insulation
Spray insulation can also be used on your exterior walls too, but special netting needs to be attached to your 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 walls to hold in the insulation and allow for a tighter pack. The smaller pieces of insulation will be able to fill in those tighter gaps you cannot see compared to when using the sheets. Long-term, you may find lower utility bills when using the spray insulation versus sheet insulation.

Foam Insulation

Custom home building does not require the use of foam insulation. However, it is, without a doubt, the best of the best of all of your insulation options. The use of this material is specifically designed to spray and expand to fill all gaps, whether it be the exterior walls and attic space for your roof rafters.
The material and labor costs of spray foam insulation will double and can easily triple compared to BAT and spray insulation. That said, spray foam insulation typically decreases the cost for wood framing by using 2 x 4 exterior walls, and the long-term benefits of having a fully wrapped house will significantly drop your utility bills – especially for big 3,500 to 4,500 square-foot homes.
Foam Insulation
Much like driving different cars, there is an insulation type out there for everyone. I like to think of sheets and spray insulation as your four-door sedan. They are nothing fancy, but to get you to where you’re going if you take good care of it it will last you a long time. Your spray foam insulation, however, is the cream of the crop, like driving a Cadillac.
If you have any additional questions about insulation or any other areas of custom home building, contact us via phone or email at