How Do I Choose the Best Foil-Backed Insulation?

B. Turner

Foil-backed insulation consists of layers of reflective foil fastened to batts or foam boards, which helps to insulate the walls, floors and ceilings of the home. The layers of foil add to the insulating ability by reflecting solar energy out of the home while also helping to control moisture and vapor infiltration. When choosing foil-backed insulation, homeowners should take the time to choose materials that will best suit the demands of the local climate in order to maximize comfort and insulating effectiveness. Choosing the best foil-backed insulation requires one to consider things like material, thermal ratings, installation requirements and cost before making a purchase.

Foil-backed insulation will not irritate eyes like fiberglass can.
Foil-backed insulation will not irritate eyes like fiberglass can.

One of the first things to consider when purchasing insulation is the R-value, which measures how effectively the insulation improves the thermal resistance of the home. In cold climates, buyers should choose the highest R-value available to keep cold winter air out of the house. In more moderate climate zones, lower R-values are generally sufficient at effectively insulating the structure.

Many buyers also pay close attention to the material that the insulation is made from, and how this can impact air quality. Insulation made without urea formaldehyde is the safest choice for those looking to maintain cleaner indoor air. Products made from fiberglass can release tiny fibers during installation, which can irritate eyes and skin. For the easiest installation, look for foil-backed insulation made from recycled denim or cotton. Pre-cut batts or boards which fit between the studs in the walls of your home can also help make installation easier.

Next, buyers should examine the foil backing to determine which product will be most effective. Foil with a low-emissitivity is best, as it will be less likely to absorb and transfer heat energy into the home. The more reflective the foil is, the more effectively it will direct solar energy out towards the outdoors, and help to keep it out of the house.

Homeowners should look for foil-backed insulation made from laminated layers rather than a single sheet of foil. Multiple layers help to reduce the risk that dust will buildup in the perforations along the surface of the foil, which could pose problems in terms of moisture control. Many perforations with larger diameters can help reduce dust buildup and improve insulating effectiveness.

When purchasing foil-backed insulation, buyers should also consider price. While it may be worth investing in insulation with a high R-value in cold climate zones, this investment may not pay off in more moderate climates. Most insulation manufacturers provide recommended R-values by region, which can help buyers choose the best insulation for their location and invest their money wisely.

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