If you want to deter mold, slash your utility bills, and stop cold air pumping into your house, insulating your basement isn’t just an option, it’s a must. You do, however, have a few options when it comes to the insulation itself. Some people install the insulation on the outside of the walls, others prefer to do it on the inside. Some homeowners like to insulate the ceiling, others prefer to insulate the walls. Some like to go belt and braces and do both. And as for the types of insulation available… well, let’s just say you’re not going to be short of choice. While having so many different options to choose between is very nice, it does come with a quandary. How do you decide which is best? To help you out, we’ve put together everything you need to know about basement insulation, along with our recommendation for the best type of insulation to use.
Insulation Options for Basements
The most common types of insulation include:
As windowsonwashington.net highlights, blanket insulation is one of the most common forms of insulation. It’s available as either batts or rolls and is typically made of a variety of materials such as slag wool, fiberglass, and plastic and natural fibers. Some types come with the added benefit of flame-resistance. As well as being one of the most affordable options, blanket insulation is one of the most convenient: the rolls can simply be cut and trimmed to suit whatever area you’re fitting. Blanket insulation is generally used in areas that are free from pipes, wiring, or other obstructions. Although blanket insulation is one of the most affordable options on the market, it would be foolhardy to base your decision on price alone. If it’s not right for your needs, you’ll end up paying double if have to replace it for another option a few years down the line. Some of the pros and cons to think about include:
- Pros of Blanket Insulation: – Unless your basement has more wires, pipes, and crevices than it does unfinished wall, installation is a breeze. It’s a great noise insulator: if you live on a busy road, blanket insulation will reduce noise pollution significantly. It’s incredibly energy efficient. Once installed, you should expect to see a reduction of as much as 50% in your heating bills.
- Cons of Blanket Insulation: – It lacks durability. Although the energy savings might be great in the first few years after installation, over time, the savings will get less and less as the insulation begins to break down. Due to its low R-value (i.e., its resistance to conductive heat flow), you’ll need to install around 10-12 inches of blanket insulation to ensure adequate insulation. If you’re dealing with any small spaces, this could be a problem.
Foam Board Insulation
Foam board insulation is typically made from polyurethane, polyisocyanurate, or polystyrene. It has an excellent insulation-to-weight ratio and offers the following pros and cons.
- Pros of Foam Board Insulation: – If your basement is prone to moisture and mildew, the water-resistance of many rigid foam products should be appealing. Once it’s in, it’s in. Unlike most other types of insulation, you won’t need to worry about it breaking down or requiring replacement at some point in the future.
- Cons of Foam Board Insulation: Installation can be challenging. The air bubbles inside do a great job of stopping heat transfer, but if they start accumulating moisture, any benefits will soon be lost. If the boards aren’t cut to the exact size required, they won’t work as effectively.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation is typically used to finish off a space. It can be sprayed directly into any nooks and crannies to stop airflow and heat transfer.
- Pros of Spray Foam Insulation: As greengarageblog.org writes, unlike less durable options, spray foam doesn’t lose its R-value over time. As spray foam is impermeable to water, it deters mold and mildew buildup. When compared to other forms of insulation, the energy savings are dramatic: compared to the 30% reduction in utility bills offered by most other forms, many people who use spray foam enjoy savings of 50%. It can easily be used with other forms of insulation to increase efficiency. It reduces noise pollution. It reduces airflow 24 times more effectively than other forms of insulation. When correctly installed, it can add up to 250% racking strength to your roof or walls. By creating an airtight seal, it reduces the number of contaminants that can get into your house.
- Cons of Spray Foam Insulation: It’s one of the most expensive options. If it’s not installed correctly, gaps can form, leading to air leakage. If any cavities are missed during installation, there is a risk of water damage. Over time, the insulation can start to shrink, increasing heat transfer and reducing the insulating properties. Unless protective gear is worn during installation, the compounds in spray foam can lead to respiratory problems.
Fiberglass insulation is a traditional form of insulation that’s typically used in areas with beams and other obtrusions. As bobvila.com notes, fiberglass insulation is available in the form of pre-sized batts and blankets that can be fitted between joists and studs. Due to its affordability and availability, it’s a popular choice for DIY homeowners.
- Pros of Fiberglass Insulation: Compared to many other options, it’s very affordable. It’s easy enough to be installed without professional assistance. It’s resistant to insect damage. It doesn’t shrink over time.
- Cons of Fiberglass Insulation: Although it’s easy to install, protective gear must be worn to prevent fiberglass slivers from lodging in the skin or being inhaled. Care should be taken to avoid fiberglass insulations that use formaldehyde as a binder. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen that can damage the lungs if inhaled. The R-value will decrease as the fiberglass settles and begins to sag, resulting in a loss of efficiency. As fiberglass is not air permeable, moisture issues can develop.
The Best Type of Basement Insulation
When it comes to deciding which of the options makes the best type of basement insulation, there isn’t just one winner. A two-pronged strategy using a combination of foam board and spray foam will provide superior insulation and an effective air seal. Spray foam insulation has a high R-value and provides excellent moisture resistance. Used in any nooks and crannies, it offers excellent protection against air movement and heat transfer. Foam board insulation, meanwhile, provides long-lasting insulation that won’t, like many other options, lose its efficiency over time.