Complete Guide to Home Insulation Plus Prices By Type & Location

insulation-by-locationWelcome to the Home Insulation Guides website where you’ll find expert information about all types of home insulation and current insulation prices too.

Jump to: Benefits | Types | Prices | R-Values

Benefits of Insulation

The primary benefit of having adequate insulation in your home is that it will keep it comfortable. When you’re heating your home, insulation helps to keep the heat from escaping your living space through the ceiling, walls or the floor. In warm weather, the insulation will prevent outside heat from penetrating into that same living space.

As a result of keeping heat where you want it – in your home or outside, depending on the season – insulation will reduce energy usage and your utility costs. Current energy prices remain very high, and installing the proper amount of insulation in each key location of your home is a decision that will pay for itself quite quickly.

In addition to the cost savings, many homeowners are committed to building and maintaining houses that are environmentally friendly. The best way to do this is reduce energy use when heating and air conditioning your home, since those two functions account for up to 60% of the energy used in a typical house.

A secondary but important benefit of insulation is that it can keep unwanted moisture out of your home. In basements and crawl spaces particularly, excess moisture will pass through the foundation and may produce mold and rot within your home. Using insulation that acts as a vapor/moisture barrier is a key component of reducing moisture and creating a healthier indoor environment.

How Insulation Works

Most insulation works by resisting the transfer of heat. Each insulation material that works in this way is rated with an R-value which is its resistance value. The higher the R-value is, the more insulation the material provides. Most types of insulation are available in a range of R-values. For example, fiberglass batt insulation comes in R-11, R-13, R-19 and other grades. Spray in foam or loose fill cellulose can be installed to virtually any depth with typical values ranging from R-9 for a few inches to R-60 for eight to twelve inches of material.

The second method of resisting the flow of heat from one place to another is through a radiant heat barrier. The material employed in radiant barrier insulation systems is metallic material such as foil that repels radiant heat. Radiant barriers are popularly used in attics in warm climates to prevent radiant heat that is penetrating the roofing from heating your living space. In attics, radiant heat barriers are often used in conjunction with heat-resisting insulation.

Main Types of Insulation

Here’s an overview of what you will find in our insulation guides for each type of material.

Fiberglass wool insulation is made from molten glass that is spun into a wool-like material. Rock wool is very similar but made from molten rock or rock slag. Rock wool is also called stone wool or mineral wool. Fiberglass wool and rock wool are affordable insulation materials used in a wide variety of applications including walls, floors, ceilings, attics and as stuffing around pipes and vents.

Loose fill insulation is also known as loose cellulose insulation. The material is cellulose plant material and is often manufactured from paper such as recycled newsprint. Loose fill insulation may be installed dry into attics. It is poured onto the “floor” of the attic which is usually composed of ceiling rafters and ceiling finish material such as drywall. Cellulose insulation can also be wetted and blown into wall cavities, but must be allowed to dry before the walls are finished.

Rigid foam insulation is produced in several styles of open-celled and closed-celled material. It is typically manufactured in 4×8 foot sheets that can be glued to foundation walls – interior or exterior – or fastened to ceiling joists. It may be used in cathedral ceilings and floors too.

Spray in foam insulation is very versatile. It is sprayed on as a liquid and dries into durable, rigid foam. Spray-in insulation is a popular choice for attics, walls, foundations and hard-to-reach locations.

Reflective or radiant barrier insulation works by stopping the flow of radiant heat in a direct line. For example, if you opened a hot oven and held a sheet of aluminum foil across the opening, it would retard the movement of that heat into your kitchen. Radiant barrier insulation and reflective insulation are made with metalized material, often foil, that slows down the transfer of heat from one space to another.

Choosing your Insulation Type

The first step in selecting the right insulation for any location in your home is to know the materials that work well in walls, floors, ceilings, attics, etc.  Our insulation location guides provide this information and compare insulation costs for each material. Our goal is to make it easier for you to estimate your insulation costs and find a cost-effective material to suit your purposes.

Cost of Insulation Types at a Glance (Price Comparison of Prices by Type and Room/Location)

Each of our insulation material guides and insulation location guides give you insulation costs for the various options. The prices are listed for several R-values too, and this makes planning your project easier. Keep in mind that the prices we provide are gathered from actual estimation jobs, but prices may vary where you live. Local cost of living, how busy contractors are based on the time of year and the difficulty of the insulation job will affect the specific insulation cost estimate you receive.

Insulation Prices by Type

The following prices and costs give you an overview of the price for insulation per foot, including labor. Prices shown are from lower rated insulation to highest rated insulation by “R-value”. Click on the links under “Insulation Type” for more detailed pricing and information about the specific insulation type:

Insulation Type       Price for Insulation in Sq. FeetCommon Uses
Batt$0.90 – $1.55Floors, Ceilings, Walls etc
Loose Fill$0.80 – $2.25Attics, Crawl Space etc
Radiant Barrier$1.00 – $1.75 Attics
Reflective $1.00 – $1.75 Attics, Walls, Ceilings
Rigid $1.65 – $2.75 Foundations, Basements, Walls
Roll $1.10 – $3.35 Ceilings, Attics
Spray-in $1.47 – $3.8 Foundations, Walls, Crawl Space, Attics etc

Insulation Prices by Room / Item

The following prices and costs are broken down in the individual Location / Item “Guides” reached by clicking on the links in the table below:

Location / ItemsInsulation Type Commonly Used
Ceiling InsulationRoll & Batt, Loose Fill, Spray-in
Attic InsulationRoll, Loose Fill
Basement InsulationRigid Foam, Spray Foam, Fiberglass Batt
Crawl Space InsulationRoll & Batt, Spray Foam, Rigid Foam
Duct InsulationReflective, Foil Faced Wrap
Wall InsulationFiberglass Batt, Faced Fiberglass Batt, Rock Wool, Loose Fill
Water Heater InsulationBlankets, Fiberglass Wool
Window InsulationInsulation Film

Determining the Right R-Value

When you read our insulation guides for each area of your home, you’ll find US Department of Energy recommendations for your climate zone. These are minimum recommendations; adding more insulation to an area of your home such as the attic or foundation may improve your home’s comfort while reducing the energy used by your heating and air conditioning system.

When considering insulation for your home, keep in mind that forming a sealing your home from air leaks is an essential part of creating indoor comfort and controlling energy use. Air sealing keeps in conditioned air (heated or air conditioned) and keeps out heat and cold from the outside. A tight seal includes preventing moisture from entering your home from outside. House wrap, for example, works with home insulation to produce optimum climate control and comfort.

For the best guidance on your project, talk with local insulation contractors with a track record for quality and customer service.

The recommendations we include are for new and existing homes. Meeting or exceeding those insulation recommendations is easy to do in new home construction and more of a challenge in existing homes. However, the insulation in every area of an existing home can be increased when homeowners understand their options. You’ll find all the information you need in our insulation guides, so browse them today as you plan a more comfortable, energy efficient home with lower energy bills.