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What is the Best Insulation for My Home?

What is the Best Insulation for My Home?

Proper insulation makes for more comfortable homes, greatly reduces heating / cooling costs, and reduces a home’s carbon footprint.  There are many different types of insulation and each type has advantages (and disadvantages) depending on the unique aspects of each home. Triangle Radiant Barrier offers professional, high quality insulation services throughout Raleigh, NC and the surrounding Triangle area:

  • Fiberglass Insulation (blown-in, rolled / batt) for attics, walls, crawl spaces
  • Radiant Barrier Insulation for attics, walls
  • Spray Foam Insulation (open cell, closed cell) for attics, walls, crawl spaces
  • Air Sealing
  • Crawl Space Encapsulation (also crawl space mold remediation)
  • Attic Stair Cover
  • Solar Attic Fans


With so many options, which insulation is right for you and your home?  Contact us today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free inspection and estimate.  In the meantime, here’s some useful information, to help your consideration.

Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass insulation is made of extremely thin glass fibers and is available as a loose-fill insulation for blowing in or comes in rolled batts, sometimes referred to as ‘blankets’.  Today’s fiberglass insulation is formaldehyde-free and non-combustible. Fiberglass insulation works by absorbing and holding onto heat, similar to the way a sponge absorbs water.  But, like a sponge, fiberglass insulation can become saturated…in this case, with heat.  When it does, the remaining heat will pass through it which decreases your home’s comfort and increases your costs for heating and cooling.  To gain better performance with fiberglass, you need more of it…the bigger the ‘sponge’, the more heat it can hold before reaching saturation.

Triangle Radiant Barrier | What is the Best Insulation for My Home?

Fiberglass insulation’s performance is measured by the “R-value” or the “Resistance Value”.  The “resistance” measures how long the insulation will prevent the transference of heat.  The higher the R-value, the longer it takes heat to transfer…so the higher the R-value, the better the performance.  R-value is based on the height or thickness of the fiberglass.  Currently Building Code standards in our area for attic floors is R-39 which is about 12-13” height of fiberglass insulation (actual R-value per inch varies based on the manufacturer of the insulation being installed). Fiberglass insulation works primarily against conductive heat transfer (transfer of heat through contact of materials).  However, it does not stop airflow, so it is not effective against convective heat transfer (transfer of heat through air movement).  Effective air sealing (e.g. sealing utility penetrations in the drywall surrounding the living space) is important to aid fiberglass against convective heat transfer. Fiberglass insulation has limited performance against radiant heat transfer (transfer of heat through the transfer of radiant energy and the relative transformation of that energy into heat).

Fiberglass Insulation
Pros Cons
– Most affordable insulation type – Versatile in many different applications – Good against conductive heat transfer – With effective air sealing, works well with powered attic ventilation, such as a solar attic fan – Some performance as sound barrier – Least performing, relative to other insulation types – Must be accompanied by effective air sealing to help prevent convective heat transfer – Limited performance against radiant heat transfer – Deteriorates naturally over time, reducing performance and eventually need addition / replacement – Disintegrating fiberglass can be a detriment to indoor air quality – Does not moderate cold in winter attics

Radiant Barrier Insulation

Radiant Barrier is a foil insulation designed to prevent the transfer of heat derived through radiation.  It does this in two ways: emissivity and reflectivity. Radiant energy comes from the sun.  That energy passes through space where it has no inherent heat because open space does not have mass or molecules to absorb the energy.  Eventually, the radiant energy hits the Earth’s atmosphere and encounters mass objects, such as your home’s roof.  Shingles and wood (that comprise your roof) have very high level of emissivity, meaning they absorb a lot of radiant energy which converts into a lot of radiant heat.  Your roof then re-emits radiant energy and radiant heat into the attic where it hits your wood framing, stored materials, and even your insulation and creates more radiant heat.  Radiant heat is the primary type of heat that accumulates in your attic in summer. Radiant Barrier has a very low emissivity, so it absorbs very little radiant energy and produces very little radiant heat.  Radiant Barrier also has very high reflectivity and it reflects 95% of radiant heat. There are different ways to install Radiant Barrier but a common method is doing so along the underside of attic rafters.  This method of installation reduces summer heat in attics between 30-40 F, on average. Radiant Barrier does not deteriorate over time.  It is a permanent insulation that comes with a lifetime warranty against degradation or delamination. In combination with air sealing and fiberglass insulation, the Radiant Barrier helps to prevent convective heat transfer but offers limited performance against conductive heat transfer. Our Radiant Barrier foil is perforated so it will not trap air moisture in attics.

Radiant Barrier Insulation
Pros Cons
– Cost efficient, cost-effective – Greatly reduces attic heat (rafter install): lower heat saturation risk to fiberglass; less heat competition to attic-installed HVAC systems – Lifetime warranty, permanent insulation – With effective air sealing, works well with powered attic ventilation, such as a solar attic fan – Reduces risk of rodent activity – Class I / Class A fire resistant, non-combustible – No detriment to indoor air quality; no chemicals at install – Cannot be used in R-value requirements – Limited performance against conductive heat transfer – Not a substantive barrier to noise – Does not moderate cold in winter attics

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray Foam provides superior R-value performance and air seal the attic and/or living space to which it is installed.  It provides excellent performance against conductive and convective heat transfer. When installed in an attic, the attic is essentially brought within the home’s thermal and pressure boundary and, for this reason, Spray Foam provides the best moderation of attic heat in summer and attic cold in winter…the temperature in the attic will be relatively close to the living space temperature throughout the year. While Spray Foam is generally considered the most effective insulation, it is also the most expensive.  The most cost-effective/efficient time to install Spray Foam is during new construction.  It may not, however, provide the best return on investment for retrofitting into existing homes depending on the circumstances and attic construction.  The retrofit application can also be hindered in compartmented attics or attics with cathedral or vaulted ceilings, in some cases requiring the removal of some sections of drywall to allow needed access to the home’s roof deck.  Homeowners with 80% efficiency gas-burning furnaces in their attics will first need to consult a licensed HVAC professional to ensure adequate intake ventilation prior to spraying foam in their attic. Spray Foam does not provide significant performance against radiant heat transfer. Spray Foam is a chemical process and does require special equipment and certified training for installation.  Home occupants are required to vacate the home once the spraying commences and are recommended to remain out of the home for 24 hours after spraying is finished. Unlike fiberglass (which is non-combustible) and Radiant Barrier (which is non-combustible and Class I / Class A fire resistant), Spray Foam will burn if there is a fire on the roof or in the attic.  If the Spray Foam will remain exposed (e.g., not covered by drywall or similar materials) and if the attic is being used for substantive and ongoing activity (e.g. storage), then Building Code requires the application of a flame retardant coating referred to as a ‘thermal / ignition barrier’ which further adds to the cost of Spray Foam. Spray Foam insulation may increase costs related to roof repairs / roof leaks due to delayed identification of leaks and because any section of roof sheathing needing replacement will pull out the corresponding section of spray foam as well, requiring spray foam repair in addition to the roof repair.

Spray Foam Insulation
Pros Cons
– Highly effective against conductive and convective heat transfer; inherently air seals the attic – Best moderation of attic temperature throughout the year – Less heat competition to attic-installed HVAC systems – Highest cost – Use of chemicals requires occupants to vacate the home during and up to 24 hours after installation – Not fire resistant, may require thermal / ignition barrier which further adds to cost – Can increase costs of roof repairs – Requires special equipment and certified training to install

With So Many Choices, What Do I Do?

Contact us today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free inspection and estimate.  Our estimates usually offer multiple options and upgrades along with consultation of the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of all that is offered…this will help you to decide what is best for your needs and your budget.

Why Triangle Radiant Barrier?

Since we specialize in and offer all types of insulation, we are not limited to trying to convince you into one option or another. All of our installations are subject to quality assurance inspections by our dedicated Project Managers. We do not ask for any deposits or pre-payments…you do not pay any money at all until the project is complete to your 100% satisfaction. Our installations on Radiant Barrier, Spray Foam, and Solar attic fans come with limited lifetime warranties. Triangle Radiant Barrier is locally and veteran owned and operated; we are not a franchise. We are very well reviewed: – Better Business Bureau: A+ Accredit and 5-Star Rated (50+ reviews) – Angi® (formerly Angie’s List®): Super Service Award 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 5-Star Rated (45+ reviews) – HomeAdvisor®: Elite Service Provider and 5-Star Rated (95+ reviews) – Nextdoor®: Neighborhood Favorite 2021, 2022, 2023 (75+ ‘Favorite’ Recommendations) – Thumbtack®: 5-Star Rated (25+ reviews) – Porch: Best Insulation Contractor 2020 and 5-Star Rated (270+ reviews) – Google: 5-Star Rated (115+ reviews) With decades of combined experience and expertise, we’re ready to help you and we’re the best resource for fiberglass insulation, Spray Foam, and Radiant Barrier in Raleigh, NC and the surrounding Triangle area. Contact us today to receive your free inspection and estimate!