Building Sciences - Intro to Insulation

Insulating your home is an extremely important part of home renovations, home improvement and new home construction projects. Although homeowners are sometimes hesitant to spend money on items that remain hidden inside their walls, proper insulation is necessary in order to meet building code requirements and have a comfortable interior environment. As a benefit, proper insulation can help lower your energy bills.

Thermal Envelope section, required by Montgomery County

Insulation should be located at any building surface that is adjacent to the outside environment. This includes, but is not limited to, roofs, walls, foundations and floors. Below is a quick summary of the different areas that should be insulated. Check back soon for more detailed discussion of R-Values, insulation types and methods for all these different locations.

Roof Insulation - Wear Your Hat in the Winter.

Mom used to say to wear your hat in the winter before going outside and she was right. We lose a great amount of body heat through our heads, and our homes are no different. Roof and attic insulation not only helps slow the heat from escaping in the winter, but it also keeps your house cooler in the summer. This is such an important area to insulate that in a home renovation or new construction project the roof insulation requirements are typically more than double what is required in your walls. More technical details will be covered in a future post.

Wall Insulation – Layer Up and Put a Coat On.

When the weather gets cold you can put on more layers, or wear a coat, or both. The same applies to your wall insulation. You can put insulation in between the studs of the walls, outside the studs, or both, for greater efficiency. Special attention also needs to be paid around windows and doors because those are areas where heat can escape. In older homes you can sometimes feel cold air coming in through these locations. The more leaks you have, the more your furnace has to work to maintain the interior of the house comfortable.

Spray foam insulation between metal studs

Foundation Insulation - Don’t Forget Your Pants

Would you go out in the middle of winter in shorts? I wouldn’t. Even though basements are in the ground, they still need to be insulated. Have you ever walked down to an unfinished basement in the winter? If the walls are not insulated, you can feel the temperature change from the floor above. There are many ways of insulating your basement walls as well, from insulated concrete forms to continuous rigid panels.

Insulated concrete forms prior to pouring the foundation walls

Floors Exposed to the Outside - Gloves and Scarves

Bay windows, cantilevers and rooms over unconditioned spaces need the floors to be insulated. These are a few common locations where you can lose heat in the winter. Think about these areas like your hands when you are building a snowman. Your body may be warm with your hat and coat, but if your hands are cold, you will still be cold.

From batts, to spray foam to rigid boards, there are many types of insulation and many methods for applying them to the areas listed above. Check back soon for some detailed information about each product type and location.