This guide discusses radiant barrier insulation, its applications and costs. Often, this type of system is called a radiant barrier system.
About Radiant Barrier Insulation
Radiant barrier systems reflect radiant heat. To effectively do this, the barrier is made from a reflective material, most commonly aluminum foil, though metallized coatings are used too. Think of a thermos with a glass lining covered with a metal coating. That metal coating prevents heat from your coffee from transferring through the thermos, so it keeps the beverage hot.
In similar fashion, the reflective foil of radiant insulation keeps heat where you want it. In winter, the heat your furnace or other heat source has made is reflected back into your home. In summer, heat from the sun that transfers through your roofing material and roof deck is reflected back toward the roof, so less of it penetrates into your home.
In radiant barrier insulation, aluminum foil is attached to craft paper, cardboard, plastic film or polyethylene bubbles.
The greatest value of radiant barrier insulation is that it stops heat gain through the roof of your home caused by the sun. In essence, the presence of the radiant barrier acts like shade for your home.
The attic is the most common place for a radiant heat barrier. In addition, they are most often installed in hot climates where heat will radiate down into your home.
NOTE: Attics should always be properly ventilated to reduce moisture that will make traditional insulation less effective and cause mold and rot. Ventilation allows heat to escape too. Roof ventilation is extremely important where radiant barrier insulation is installed. Heat reflected back toward the roof will reduce the life of shingles unless ridge vent and other venting is in place to allow the heat to escape. Talk with your insulation contractor about venting the attic prior to adding any type of insulation including a radiant heat barrier system.
Radiant barrier may be used as house wrap in very warm climates.
Table 1: Prices shown for Radiant Barrier Insulation, divided down into Material per Sq. Foot and Labor per Sq. Foot:
|Insulation Rating||Material per Sq. Foot||Labor per Sq. Foot|
|Variable||$0.35 to $0.75||$0.65 to $1.00|
The radiant barrier insulation will vary in cost depending on the quality of the material – both the foil and the material it is attached to. The higher the quality, the more durable and easy to install it will be. Expect to receive estimates for the material to be $0.35 (35 cents) to $0.75 per square foot.
The labor rate should range from $0.65 to $1.00 per square foot. The cost of living in your area will make a difference, and so will time of year. For example, expect to pay slightly more to have a radiant barrier system installed in the coldest part of winter.
Ancillary costs for supplies such as fasteners will come to $25 to $40 per 1,000 square feet of material installed.
Learn about Radiant Barrier Insulation from the US Department of Energy
Find Cost Information for Radiant Barrier Insulation
Browse a Technical Article on How Reflective Insulation Works