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What is Radiant Barrier?

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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Radiant barriers are highly reflective materials usually made out of aluminum foil that are installed in a home to keep heat in or out of the home. For homeowners, using a radiant barrier can mean reduced energy bills and a home with a more comfortable temperature. Barriers are usually installed on a roof deck's underside and gable ends' inside surface or other suitable vertical surfaces on an attic. The goal is to protect a home's insulation from coming into contact with heat generated from the outside.

A radiant barrier can be placed under roofing materials. This will result in the heat from the sun being redirected to the top of the attic's roof instead of having it flow downward and into the home. A radiant barrier will thus keep a house cool because incoming thermal radiation is moved back to the place where it originated.

Method of installation will depend on the state of the home. Different approaches must be taken if the house is new or if it is already standing. For example, Radiant Barrier Decking can be used on homes that are just being built and Radiant Barrier Attic Foil may be used on homes that owners want to modify.

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Any installation requires the use of an air space or gap. This is so the barrier can have space to work properly. Home owners who have houses in humid areas would do well perforate their barriers before or during installation so as to allow moisture to escape from the area.

Types of radiant barriers vary. However, consumers will generally be expected to choose between single-sided foil, double-sided foil, multi-layered foil, foil-faced roof sheathing materials and radiant barrier "chips." The differences between these barriers can usually be attributed to the number of reinforcement layers, type of reinforcement used and insulation material. Chips may be installed on attic floors.

It's estimated that a properly installed, quality radiant barrier can block about 95% of heat attempting to come in from the ceiling. They may also reduce temperatures in a home by as much as 30 degrees. Because radiant barriers keep homes at cool temperatures, they may also improve homes by providing more space in which to live or work. For example, previously inhospitable attics can be converted into comfortable bedrooms or can be used as extra storage space since excess heat will not effect people or items in the attic once the barriers are in place.

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