Virtually every remodeling project gives considerable thought to energy conservation, and a primary component of that goal is insulation. The definition of insulation, however, is rapidly expanding as homeowners and energy codes demand even better energy-saving performance.
Nowadays, there are far more insulating options than those bags of fiberglass you see on the shelves of a big-box home improvement store. While “batt” insulation remains an inexpensive yet effective option, other materials have emerged that help optimize thermal value when replacing conventional insulation.
For instance, we may place. 1 inch thick rigid foam insulation panel behind the finish siding of a room addition, as well as insulating between the wall studs. That type of technique is commonly called a “thermal break".
Also, in addition to taping the joints between insulation panels, a thin, woven air-water barrier (also called a “weather-resistant barrier” or “housewrap”) is applied under the panels to shed incidental water that gets behind the siding or stucco and blocks air infiltration through the structure.
Another increasingly popular insulating technique is called “flash-and-batt,” a practice that combines conventional fiberglass batts with a “flash” or thin layer of expanding foam insulation. Specifically, an insulation contractor will spray a 1-inch deep layer of foam into a wall cavity. As the foam expands, it seals any gaps in the cavity to block air and moisture vapor from flowing through the wall. Then the contractor fills the rest of the cavity with uncompressed fiberglass to resist thermal (or heat) transfer. The result is an air-tight and well-insulated wall.
Most of a home’s energy is lost through the attic or roof. The difference in air temperature and pressure between the attic and the living space below can be dramatic, causing air to escape into the attic and putting an extra burden on the home’s heating and cooling system.
A flash-and-batt installation can almost entirely eliminate thermal loss into the attic. Often, after the flash layer is applied within the truss or rafter cavities on top of the ceiling board, a loose-fill fiberglass or cellulose (made from recycled newspaper and similar fibers) layer is used to cover the foam.
Polyuerthane expanding foam is being used more frequently as the only insulation in the home. It seals stud and rafter cavities with a high r value per inch of insulation that gives you a vapour barrier as well .This works great in areas that ventaltion is a problem and/or vapour barrier is hard to establish, like a floor over a cold area
The push to make homes more energy efficient is driving new and better insulation products and applications, and professional remodelers are at the forefront of that evolution to provide better indoor comfort and help reduce monthly energy bills.
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