Types of Home Insulaton

Blanket: Batt and Roll Insulation

Blanket insulation -- the most common and widely available type of insulation -- comes in the form of batts or rolls. It consists of flexible fibers, most commonly fiberglass. You also can find batts and rolls made from mineral (rock and slag) wool, plastic fibers, and natural fibers, such as cotton and sheep's wool. Learn more about these insulation materials.

Batts and rolls are available in widths suited to standard spacing of wall studs, attic trusses or rafters, and floor joists. Continuous rolls can be hand-cut and trimmed to fit. They are available with or without facings. Manufacturers often attach a facing (such as kraft paper, foil-kraft paper, or vinyl) to act as a vapor barrier and/or air barrier. Batts with a special flame-resistant facing are available in various widths for basement walls and other places where the insulation will be left exposed. A facing also helps facilitate fastening during installation. However, unfaced batts are a better choice when adding insulation over existing insulation.

Standard fiberglass blankets and batts have a thermal resistance or R-value between R-2.9 and R-3.8 per inch of thickness. High-performance (medium-density and high-density) fiberglass blankets and batts have R-values between R-3.7 and R-4.3 per inch of thickness. See the table below for an overview of these characteristics.


Concrete blocks are used to build home foundations and walls, and there are several ways to insulate them. If the cores aren’t filled with steel and concrete for structural reasons, they can be filled with insulation, which raises the average wall R-value. Field studies and computer simulations have shown, however, that core filling of any type offers little fuel savings, because heat is readily conducted through the solid parts of the walls such as block webs and mortar joints.

It is more effective to install insulation over the surface of the blocks either on the exterior or interior of the foundation walls. Placing insulation on the exterior has the added advantage of containing the thermal mass of the blocks within the conditioned space, which can moderate indoor temperatures.

Some manufacturers incorporate polystyrene beads into concrete blocks, and surface-bonded assemblies of these units have wall R-values of R-1 per inch. Other manufacturers make concrete blocks that accommodate rigid foam inserts that increase the unit thermal resistance to about R-2 per inch.

In the United States, two varieties of solid, precast autoclaved concrete masonry units are now available: autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) and autoclaved cellular concrete (ACC). This material contains about 80% air by volume and has been commonly used in Europe since the late 1940s. Autoclaved concrete has ten times the insulating value of conventional concrete. The R-1.1 per inch blocks are large, light, and easily sawed, nailed, and shaped with ordinary tools. The material absorbs water readily, so it requires protection from moisture. Precast ACC uses fly ash instead of high-silica sand, which distinguishes it from AAC. Fly ash is a waste ash produced from burning coal in electric power plants.

Hollow-core units made with a mix of concrete and wood chips are also available. They are installed by stacking the units without using mortar (dry-stacking) and filling the cores with concrete and structural steel. One potential problem with this type of unit is that the wood is subject to the effects of moisture and insects.

Concrete block walls are typically insulated or built with insulating concrete blocks during new home construction or major renovations. Block walls in existing homes can be insulated from the inside. Go to insulation materials for more information about the products commonly used to insulate concrete block.

Foam Board or Rigid Foam

Foam boards -- rigid panels of insulation -- can be used to insulate almost any part of your home, from the roof down to the foundation. They provide good thermal resistance, and reduce heat conduction through structural elements, like wood and steel studs. The most common types of materials used in making foam board include polystyrene, polyisocyanurate (polyiso), and polyurethane.

Information Source: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/insulation-materials