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Roof Insulation Options

Heating and HVAC
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Whether it’s the middle of summer or the dead of winter, proper roof insulation is a must. When the temperature outside becomes uncomfortably warm, an insulated roof will diffuse the heat and sunlight absorbed by your home. During the coldest months of the year, that same insulation will keep the heat inside your home, preventing it from rising and escaping through the ceiling. In both cases, you'll find this will not only help you maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, but will also drastically cut your heating or energy bills.

There are five basic types of thermal roof insulation:

  • Blankets (also known as batts) are long, flexible sheets of fiberglass that are laid over the rafters between the ceiling and the roof. They come in a variety of widths and can be trimmed by hand to fit into tight spaces. Blankets are available in most home improvement stores and can be easily installed.
  • Foamed-in-place polyurethane foam is sprayed into place between the ceiling and the roof, where it forms a continuous layer of insulation. In addition to slowing the transfer of heat, polyurethane actually seals small gaps in the ceiling structure to reduce air leaks. This type of roof insulation is installed by professionals, who use specialized equipment to measure, mix, and spray it.
  • Loose-fill roof insulation consists of small fragments of fiberglass or cellulose that are dropped or blown into the space below your roof using pneumatic equipment. In some cases, the fibers are treated with an adhesive that prevents them from settling. This type of insulation is well-suited for sloped roofs with hard-to-reach areas. The installation of loose-fill insulation is quite difficult, and is usually handled by professionals.
  • Rigid insulation consists of fiberglass, cellulose, or plastic foam that has been pressed into a rigid board. These boards are then laid side-by-side between the ceiling and the roof to provide insulation from heat, as well as noise. Some boards are faced with a reflective foil to reduce heat flow and slow vapor penetration.
  • Reflective insulation systems are made of aluminum foil, with backings of cardboard, plastic film, or polyethylene. While somewhat effective in preventing winter heat loss, this type of roof insulation is specifically designed to reduce downward heat flow in hotter climates by reflecting it up and away. Reflective systems are usually placed between the roof rafters to form what is called a "radiant barrier."

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