EcoSmart –Blanket: Batt & Roll Insulation

Fiberglass insulationBlanket insulation (sometimes called fiberglass insulation) is the most common type of insulation used today. Blanket insulation is purchased in batts or rolls and consists of fiberglass, wool, and other fibers. Batts and rolls are sized to fill the standard spacing of studs (wall, floor, or attic). Flame resistant facings are available for basement installation where the insulation is left exposed. Use the R-value (thermal resistance) to assess the quality insulation blanket you are considering. High performance batts & blankets are medium to high density, R-3.7 to R-4.3 per inch of thickness.

Blanket insulation can be an effective home insulation when installed properly. Unfortunately, we find in many of today’s homes, batt insulation has been improperly installed during construction — allowing air to leak around the insulation between the wall studs, the floor joists, or the attic trusses. Another common area for air leak is around utility penetrations (vents, pipes, and outlets). Both severely reduce the rated R-value of the insulation.

Fiberglass, Wool, or Other Fibers

Batts or Rolls of Blanket Insulation are most commonly make from fiberglass, but plastic fiber, wool, cotton, and others are available. Wool insulation is offered as Mineral Wool (about 75% post-industrial recycled content and is naturally fire resistant) or Sheep’s Wool (treated with borate to resist pests, fire, and mold). Plastic fiber insulation is made primarily from recycled plastic milk bottles (polyethylene terephthalate, PET). The plastic fiber insulation comes in a high-density R-value (R-3.8 to R-4.3). Plastic fiber insulation is typically treated with a fire retardant but it will melt when exposed to flame. Cotton insulation is composed of 15% plastic fiber and 85% recycled cotton. Cotton insulation is generally available with an R-value of R-3.4 per inch and typically costs a bit more than fiberglass.

If your home was built prior to 1950, you may have insulation that contains asbestos. You should contact a trained insulation contractor for best handling practices.

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