This guide to loose fill insulation describes this product and where it is used before giving loose fill insulation costs for material and installation.
Loose fill insulation is a very versatile material that can be used in locations that are difficult to reach with batts or rolls. The costs for loose fill insulation can vary widely, depending on several factors which are discussed below. However, the average cost for loose fill insulation is $650 – $850 for a 500 sq.ft. job, including labor. This cost would be applicable for products with an r-value of R-19 to R50, which would be suitable for most walls and ceilings, R-60 insulation however would be more costly with an average cost between $700 – $1125.
|Loose Fill Insulation Cost & Prices for a 500 sq. ft. Project
|$300 – $675
|$625 – $1,000
|$700 – $1125
|$650 – $850
About Loose Fill Insulation
There are three types of loose fill insulation commonly used: fiberglass, cellulose and rock wool. This type of insulation is also known as blown-in insulation.
Rock wool insulation is formed from molten stone or slag spun into a material with the look and consistency of sheep’s wool. Fiberglass is molten glass spun into fibers and formed into clumps that resemble wool. Cellulose is typically made from recycled paper fiber. While fiberglass and rock wool naturally resist burning, fire-retarding chemicals must be added to cellulose to help prevent the spread of fires.
As the name implies, loose fill insulation isn’t in the form of rolls or batts. It is in the form of small clumps packaged in bags. It can be installed by hand but is usually loaded into a machine and blown into the space to be insulated. The R-value achieved is a factor of the depth of insulation is used in the location.
When cellulose blown-in insulation is used, it is often mixed with a small amount of water that causes the small pieces of insulation to adhere to one another. It can then be installed in vertical spaces such as unfinished wall cavities. You can find out more information about loose fill insulation from this Department of Energy resource.
Blown-in insulation is installed to prevent warm air from escaping your home during the heating season. In warm weather, it helps prevent hot air from penetrating into your living space. Insulation will reduce the energy use and cost of running air conditioning.
As noted, the chief advantage of loose fill insulation is that it can be installed in locations hard to reach with other forms of insulation. A second major purpose for considering loose fill is the ease of installation using a blower. It gives the installer the ability to stand in one location or to walk on ceiling joists and dispense the insulation into a broad area.
Blown-in insulation is versatile. It is used in finished and unfinished space, new and existing construction. As we’ve indicated, blown-in insulation is most often used in areas where installing batts or roll insulation would be difficult or impossible. For example, it can be blown into attics that are hard to access.
Wet cellulose insulation can be blown into vertical spaces such as unfinished wall cavities after the wiring and plumbing have been completed. Drywall or other material may be installed once the insulation dries.
Loose fill insulation, usually dry fiberglass material, is also used in finished space such as vaulted ceilings or walls. A small-diameter hole is drilled in the drywall or other surface, and the insulation is blown into the cavity. In any location, this material can be used to increase the depth and R-value of existing insulation.
Currently, loose fill insulation is the most cost-effective type of insulation to install and, because it covers more consistently than batts or rolls, also the most energy efficient.
Table 1: Prices shown for Loose Fill Insulation, divided down into Material per Sq. Foot and Labor per Sq. Foot
|Loose Fill Insulation Costs, Materials and Labor
|Material per Sq. Foot
|Labor per Sq. Foot
|R-13 (2×4 walls)
|$0.25 to $0.35
|$0.55 to $1.00
|R-19 (2×6 walls)
|$0.40 to $0.65
|$0.60 to $1.10
|$0.65 to $1.00
|$0.60 to $1.10
|$0.80 to $1.10
|$0.65 to $1.15
Factors Affecting the Cost of Loose Fill Insulation
Costs for loose fill insulation will vary from job to job, however the prices of loose fill insulation provided above do give an accurate outline of what you can expect when pricing up a job. The main factors likely to affect the cost of loose fill insulation include:
- Amount of Insulation Used – The amount of insulation used is going to vary depending on whether your job is a “top up” job or whether you’re having full new insulation installed. If you’re just having a top up of original insulation then the amount you will need will be significantly less than if you’re having brand new insulation installed. For a ceiling you can expect to pay around $650 – $850 for a full average loose fill insulation job, where as a top up job may cost you a third of this. Walls will cost slightly less
- Removal of Old Insulation – There are some circumstances where the old insulation will need to be removed completely, due to damp, flattening or general poor state. The cost of insulation removal will be around $150 – $250, which will include disposal of the old material. This is somewhere you can save money, by doing this yourself and bagging up the old material you will significantly reduce the cost of new loose fill insulation.
- Accessibility Issues – This is particularly applicable when you’re installing loose fill insulation as attic insulation. If the attic is difficult to access or if it’s full of stuff then this is going to hinder the contractors and will require them to clear it out before starting. Therefore it’s recommended that you clear this yourself prior to getting any estimates as having an attic full of excess stuff will inflate the quote. With regards to walls and ceilings, more labor is needed when holes must be drilled to fill cavities within walls and ceilings. Check for detailed breakdowns for your home with free local contractor estimates.
Materials and supplies required by the installer, including the cost of the blower, amount to $60 to $100 per 1,000 square yards.