Insulation is a basic component of nearly every home and most commercial buildings in the Boise area. It is typically installed during the construction process and is ultimately covered by drywall and subflooring, followed by finished walls, ceilings and floors. It plays an important role in our comfort and energy costs, but it remains hidden away and is easily overlooked.
What Is Insulation?
Insulation is used to fill the gaps and voids in walls, ceilings, floors and other structure locations before the finished surfaces are installed. Its primary purpose is to slow the movement of heat from warmer areas to cooler areas.
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How Does Insulation Work?
Insulation acts as a barrier between two areas with different temperatures. Most insulating materials like fiberglass and mineral wool are poor conductors of heat. As the heat in one area naturally tries to move towards cooler areas to reach equilibrium, or a stable state, the insulation slows the process. In the winter, insulation helps keep the heat indoors longer, reducing the need for the heating system to cycle back on. In the summer, insulation helps keep the heat out, which warms the indoor air and counteracts the air conditioning system.
An insulation’s R-value represents its resistance to heat flow, with higher R-values indicating greater resistance and better insulating properties. In the Boise area, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends insulation levels between R-38 and R-60 in the attic, R-13 to R-21 in exterior walls and R-25 to R-30 in floors and crawl spaces.
The Most Common Types of Insulation
Insulation comes in a wide variety of types and materials, but here are the most common that will be encountered in modern buildings:
- Fiberglass insulation – Available in batts, rolls and blown-in varieties, fiberglass is made from thin glass fibers arranged into layered mats, providing excellent thermal insulation.
- Cellulose insulation – Made primarily from recycled newspaper treated to resist fire and pests, cellulose offers good air sealing, insulation and soundproofing abilities.
- Spray foam insulation – Applied as a liquid, spray foam expands to fill voids in the wall cavity and adheres to surrounding surfaces, providing superior insulation and air sealing in one product.
- Radiant barrier insulation – Made from reflective insulation panels, radiant barriers reflect much of the sun’s heat, making them ideal for hot climates and reducing attic temperatures.
- Rigid foam insulation – Rigid foam is extruded or expanded foam that is formed into panels for easy installation on a variety of surfaces, such as under siding or roofing materials, to add extra insulation without tearing into interior walls.
- Mineral wool insulation – Made from spun rock fibers, mineral wool offers excellent insulation and soundproofing abilities along with natural resistance to pests.
Spray foam and rigid foam insulation offer the highest R-values per inch at about R-6.5, followed by cellulose, fiberglass and mineral wool, ranging from about R-2.9 to R-4.6 depending on the brand and product.
Where To Insulate in a Home
The most important types of insulation for a comfortable home year-round include:
- Attic insulation – Installed in the attic floor, insulation keeps heat from rising into the attic during the winter. In the summer, attic insulation stops attic heat from tempering the cooler air below.
- Wall insulation – Wall insulation contains heated air in the winter, and keeps out hot air in the summer.
- Basement insulation – Done properly, basement insulation prevents cold floors and heat loss into the basement during the winter. It also prevents tempering the conditioned air during the summer.
- Crawl space insulation – Crawl space insulation prevents heat loss to the crawl space in the winter or heat gain in the summer.
Insulation Contractors in Boise, Idaho
When you need quality insulation in the Boise area, along with professional installation services, turn to our team at Big City Insulation of Idaho. We feature fiberglass, cellulose, rigid foam and mineral wool insulation for both residential and commercial projects. Our company features friendly, experienced personnel and free estimates. We’re also part of the Installed Building Products Family of Companies, the nation’s second-largest insulation installer.