Compare Attic Insulation Installation Costs and Values

attic-insulationThis guide to attic insulation covers its usefulness, recommended levels of attic insulation, types and costs for materials and labor.

Jump to: Insulation Levels | Types | Costs

Reasons to Insulate the Attic

There is no more important location to insulate than the attic of your home, or in the case of vaulted ceilings, the space immediately beneath the roof deck.

When warming your home during cool weather, the heat will rise. Without adequate attic or ceiling insulation, that heat will be quickly lost through the roof of your home.

In warm weather, insulation will prevent hot air from penetrating into your living space. Excess heat makes your home uncomfortable, and if you use air conditioning, it will cause the equipment to work harder and use more energy than it would with sufficient insulation.

In short, inadequate levels of insulation in the attic and ceiling are the primary reason for energy use and costs being higher than they should be. According to the US Department of Energy, the heating and cooling system accounts for 50% to 60% of energy use in most homes. That fact emphasizes the need for adequate insulation, especially in the attic and ceiling.

Recommended Insulation Levels for Attics

While there are no government-mandated insulation levels for attics, the US DOE does provide recommended levels. The recommendations differ for each climate zone of the country.

Zone 1: Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands

  • Recommendation: Install R-30 to R-49 in an uninsulated attic; Add R-25 to R-30 in attics where three to four inches already exist.

Zones 2 & 3: Florida and the Gulf Coast States, Texas, Georgia, the Carolinas, Arkansas, Southern Arizona, Southern California

  • Recommendation: Install R-30 to R-60 in an uninsulated attic; Add R-25 to R-38 in attics where three to four inches already exist.

Zone 4: Mid-Atlantic States, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, southern areas of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, coastal areas of northern California, Oregon and Washington

  • Recommendation: Install R-38 to R-60 in an uninsulated attic; Add R-38 in attics where three to four inches already exist.

Zone 5 to 8: Everything north of Zone 4

  • Recommendation: Install R-49 to R-60 in an uninsulated attic; Add R-38 to R-49 in attics where three to four inches already exist.

Types of Insulation Used in Attics

Loose fill insulation, also known as blown-in insulation, is currently the most common type used in attics. Roll insulation is the second-most popular type for installation in attics.

Foam spray insulation is used in attics to insulate around openings for pipes, vents, stacks, fans and chimneys. Rigid insulation can be used, though it isn’t the most cost-effective type for attic applications. It is used in vaulted ceilings at times to achieve the maximum R-value where getting insulation depth is an issue.

Attic Insulation Costs and Comparisons

Roll insulation and loose fill insulation are the two most cost-effective products for insulating attics, and that is why they are the top two choices. As noted, foam rigid insulation is used in some vaulted ceiling applications, but it costs three to five times more per square foot than loose fill or rolls.

Here’s what you can expect when you receive estimates for attic insulation costs. The costs are given per square foot of material.

Roll Insulation Costs

Table 1: Prices shown for Roll Insulation, divided down into Material per Sq. Foot and Labor per Sq. Foot:

Insulation RatingMaterial per Sq. FootLabor per Sq. Foot
R-50   $1.30 to $2.00$0.70 to $0.95
R-60$1.60 to $2.40 $0.70 to $0.95

Loose Fill Insulation Costs

Table 2: Prices shown for Roll Insulation, divided down into Material per Sq. Foot and Labor per Sq. Foot:

Insulation RatingMaterial per Sq. FootLabor per Sq. Foot
R-50  $0.65 to $1.00$0.60 to $1.10
R-60$0.80 to $1.10 $0.65 to $1.15

For either roll or loose fill insulation, expect extra costs for additional materials and supplies of $25-$50 per 1,000 square feet of insulated space.

It’s worth noting that when loose fill insulation is properly installed, it offers better coverage because there are no gaps in the insulation as there will be when rolls of insulation are installed side by side and end to end. The insulated area will receive better coverage with loose fill.

Helpful Resources

Get Tips from the US Dept. of Energy on Saving Money by Insulating Properly

Learn about Attic Insulation Installation