In the world of attic insulation, the debate for spray foam vs. fiberglass has been a hotly contested topic. Fiberglass has been the more established, classic insulation method while spray foam has experienced a boost in popularity in the recent past. The buzzworthy topic in the industry has begged the question of whether spray foam is a worthwhile, viable replacement or substitute for the more traditional fiberglass approach.

To answer this question, it is important to understand what exactly each insulation method is, how the two differ from each other, which needs each method better serves, and which of the two is more budget-friendly depending on your particular situation.

Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass is a material composed of very fine fibers. These are produced from a variety of recyclable materials, with melted down glass being chief among them. These small materials are held together by an adhesive agent such as paper or aluminum foil. This bonding of pieces serves as a vapor barrier, an attribute that makes it an effective insulator, which is very moderately priced, currently used in most American homes.

Fiberglass Packaging

Fiberglass is commonly packaged in the form of batts, the cotton-candy-looking blankets of the insulation material. Somewhat less commonly, it also appears as a brown fill.

Batts

Batts are popular with homeowners seeking insulation of their homes because they are light, making them easily portable between rooms and floors, as well as large, with their rolled-out size allowing a wide area of distributed coverage. Even more conveniently, their size is typically cut to fit comfortably between studs to the walls of attics.

However, the size of the batts does present a particular challenge in terms of covering attics that may not be perfectly open or are awkwardly spaced, requiring that the batts be cut precisely to size. If they are too short, they will leave some amount of space uncovered, while being too long results in inconvenient excess resulting in abnormal compression. Neither is particularly favorable to reducing the electric or gas bills, the entire point of insulation.

While fiberglass batts are less costly, customization that some attics would call for can end up being quite costly. It is also a significant pain point to cut them to size depending on the attic layout. If you are a homeowner looking to save money by installing the fiberglass batts yourself, you will be unlikely to reduce fiberglass insulation costs by self-cutting, especially if your attic features a lot of obstacles.

Loose-Fill

Unlike the fluffy, large sheets of fiberglass in batts, some fiberglass insulation is offered in loose-filled fiberglass chunks, typically packaged in bags. The installation of these loose-filled chunks requires the use of a special blowing machine to distribute the fiberglass evenly across a particular attic surface. This is why it is commonly referred by homeowners as blown in insulation.

Some insulation DIYers choose to rent a machine to help out with this, while others opt to hire a professional fiberglass insulator who owns such a machine, which reduces the necessity to move around in potentially tight and cramped attic spaces.

While batts need to be cut to size to fit obstructive, uneven areas, loose-fill can be easily applied to tight spaces, corners, segregated areas, and other hard to reach places without the hassle of cutting a large fiberglass sheet to do so. It also fits easily over wires and pipes, another area where batts end up struggling to lay out evenly.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is chemically composed to be sprayed into everywhere ranging from open areas to tight nooks. As the foam covers an area, it expands getting into small crevices and corners where traditional fiberglass insulation just cannot reach. This helps to seal the cracks in the wood that could potentially allow air permeation.

Spray Foam Packaging

Spray foam packaging comes in either the open-cell or closed-cell variation. Open-cell foam is soft and highly flexible due to the air bubbles present inside, making this type of spray foam not fully enveloped. The closed-cell, on the other hand, is a near-total seal, with minimal space in the resulting foam. This promotes a far lower rate of air coming in through the more rigid, denser seal. Closed-seal’s dense nature also makes it highly resistant to moisture permeation, which makes it an ideal choice for those parts of the house that contact the home’s exterior, such as attics.

The efficiency of closed-cell foam, however, comes at a price. For one thing, its cost is significantly higher than other insulation variants, but it also expands less than open-cell foam, meaning that it is not as effective at getting into small, tight spaces.

Open cell is a more ideal choice for insulating interior areas (those with no contact with the outdoors). As it can allow moisture to pass through slightly more than the closed-cell variant, its contact with the outside is ideally needing to be minimized. Because it seeps in between studs and fills in all of the little cracks and nooks superbly upon expansion, it more tightly expands over the coverage area. This makes it a great soundproofing option.

Spray Foam Insulation vs Fiberglass Comparison

R-Value

Insulation is all about keeping air and moisture out. The higher resistance to these elements that spray foam has, the higher its R-value score. The higher the R-value, the more effective the spray foam is at keeping water and air out (or in). Closed-cell foam is among the highest in this regard, able to achieve an R-value of up to 7.0. Unlike fiberglass, it does not settle or sag over time, a common downside of poorly installed fiberglass insulation.

Fiberglass does have one particular advantage over spray foam, however. Spray foam requires one application to cover an area, while fiberglass insulation limitations are significantly less. In other words, if you needed supplemental insulation, you can easily later fiberglass batts on one another.

Moisture Resistance

In terms of moisture resistance, both fiberglass and spray foam are excellent deterrents of mold and mildew, so this is a category that is truly a toss-up between the two. The ability to resist the overwhelming penetration of water makes either a viable option for insulation use.

Longevity

In terms of longevity, both spray foam and fiberglass are outstanding performers. If you use fiberglass to insulate your attic, unless you want to update it with spray foam, you will likely never need to reinsulate it again. That’s because fiberglass has an astonishingly long lifespan of 100 years.

While it doesn’t quite meet the century mark, spray foam is considered viable for a respectable 80 years, far longer than anyone homeowner will need in their lifetime. Unlike fiberglass that is not administered correctly, spray foam won’t settle or sag over time, but it does shrink gradually, giving fiberglass insulation a slight advantage in this category.

Installation

In terms of installing a particular type of insulation, there is no competition. In open attic spaces, few installations are simpler than that of unrolling batts of fiberglass. When no obstructions exist, and the spacing between joists is consistent, the fiberglass batt layout is a very simple process. Even when a machine needs to be used to fill in tighter attic spaces with loose-fill insulation, is simpler than the process of applying spray foam.

While professionals can effectively apply spray foam, it is, after all, a chemically rendered compound, which means if applied incorrectly, could have negative impacts on the health of the applicator or the home’s residents. While it is extremely effective in its performance, it is significantly more challenging to install.

Intangible Benefits

Both fiberglass insulation and spray foam possess two important attributes that make them stand out as the primary facilitators of indoor insulation.

The first is that they are both non-combustible, which means they are fire-resistant. That means that either one can be filled in between wood joists and in an attic, including around electrical boxes, without the concern of them catching on fire.

The second is that they both act as a soundproofing barrier. That means that not only do they reduce external noises from entering, they also supply the indoor space with enhanced acoustic qualities.

Cost-Effectiveness

One of the main factors that influence the choice for homeowners in terms of insulation is which one is worth the expense. Will the less expensive, longevously, and easier to install fiberglass variation give them the best bang for their buck, or is the higher R-value, more inclusive, more efficient spray foam a better choice?

Fiberglass provides a quality insulation solution that is, in most ways, effectively comparable to that of the most expensive spray foam option, for a significantly lower cost. Both types will save you money in heat and electric bills, as both are effective at trapping air. Fiberglass has been shown to slash energy bills due to its energy efficiency (conserving 12x the energy it generates).

Conclusion

The high R-value of spray foam insulation makes it the dominant insulation solution on the market, but there are more considerations to choosing insulation types than just the R-value alone. A few other factors to consider include:

  • Regional climate
  • Attic space coverage
  • Safety hazards
  • Overall budget

By and large, there is a reason that fiberglass usage continues to dominate the market in terms of how many people utilize it. For attics in most homes, renovated buildings, or brand new constructions that do not have wall nestled pipes or floor-based HVAC units, fiberglass amounts to the better choice.

In most performance categories, fiberglass either matches or nominally trails spray foam insulation. It’s significantly less expensive and the ease of insulation makes it ideal for DYI installers, as well as the budget-conscious ones. It is no wonder that while the benefits of spray foam are quite real, most American homes’ attics are still filled with cotton-candy looking fiberglass insulation.

If you’re looking to insulate your home, after doing a bit of Googling online, you’re likely to end up asking: What’s the difference in using faced vs unfaced insulation?

The answer to this might not be as straightforward as you think. However, depending on the particular properties of your home and which parts need insulating, working out the difference between the two can be relatively easy.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know on faced vs unfaced insulation, including where to install it, the pros and cons of each, and the types you’ll be able to buy.

Reasons to Insulate Your Home

Reasons to Insulate Your Home

Before we tell you more about the different types of faced vs unfaced insulation available for your home, some of you may be thinking: What’s all the fuss about? Do I even need any insulation in my home in the first place?

The short answer is: yes. There is very little downside to insulating your home beyond the initial installation costs. Not only this, but the benefits of insulating your home greatly exceeds the money you’ll put down initially.

In case you’re in any doubt, here are four solid reasons why it’s worth taking the time to insulate your home:

  1. It will save you money. The most common reason families insulate their home is to reduce the costs of heating. As much as 35% of heat in your home is lost through the walls and another 25% is lost through the roof, so it is vital you insulate these to keep costs down.
  2. It improves the durability of your home. Walls that are protected with insulation have less exposure to bad weather and are therefore much less likely to deteriorate in the long term.
  3. It can minimize mold and condensation. Well-insulated walls are less cold than typical external walls, which means there is much less of a chance you’ll get condensation on them, which could lead to mold.
  4. It offers a more stable home temperature. Your home’s indoor temperature will be much more consistent over the course of the year, keeping you warm in the summer and cool in the winter.

Areas of Your Home to Insulate

Areas of Your Home to Insulate

There are 3 main areas of your home that you want to consider insulating, them being:

1. The Attic

The attic tends to be the most common part of the home people want to insulate. Installation takes place either just below the roof or just above the ceiling of the top floor of the property.

2. The Walls

Walls are also a common area to insulate, particularly in newer, more modern properties. Depending on the wall in question, you may wish to install cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation or internal wall insulation.

3. The Floor

Insulating the floor is among the more expensive options. Modern properties tend to be insulated under the concrete floor; however, suspended traditional floors can also be insulated.

Whether you want faced vs unfaced insulation may depend on which particular area of your home needs insulating.

What is Faced Insulation?

What is Faced Insulation?

When insulation is faced, we mean it is enclosed by a thin outer layer — the ‘face’ or vapor barrier, which protects it against humidity and moisture. The idea is to ensure that when it is used, for example, to insulate drywall, it ensures that both the insulation and the drywall stay dry for years to come.

Faced insulation is made in rolls or batts and needs to be stapled to the wall studs and/or joists to guarantee its adequate protection against moisture.

Pros

  • Stronger protection against moisture and humidity.
  • Foil-faced insulation can provide an added boost in keeping the heat inside your home.
  • Can be easier to install by simply fastening the protective layer to the wall studs.
  • More effective at protecting against mold growth.
  • A better option to start with if you have no pre-existing insulation in your home.

Cons

  • Tends to be more expensive than unfaced alternatives.
  • You can only install one layer of faced insulation, because the edges may trap moisture between them if you try to install multiple layers. Alternatively, you can have multiple layers of unfaced insulation.
  • Can be more flammable than unfaced alternatives, so you should ensure that it does not make contact with heating or electrical devices.

What Types of Faced Insulation Can I Buy?

Choosing the right faced insulation can be difficult with the several options available on the market.

Reflective attic insulation is used most commonly in attics to reduce the costs of cooling a home in the summer. They are often made with a reflective aluminum foil that radiates heat from the sun away from inside the building.

Phenolic boards are thin, which allows them to fit within cavity walls within your property, and they’re also water-resistant. For their slim size, they’re very effective insulators. However, per square meter, they tend to be more expensive to install.

What is Unfaced Insulation?

What is Unfaced Insulation?

Unfaced insulation is insulation that lacks that thin protective outer layer described above.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this type of insulation may have no protection against humidity and moisture at all. Some unfaced materials, such as blown in insulation, are designed to protect against moisture without any additional layers.

Pros

  • Typically cheaper than faced alternatives.
  • Some options such as spray foam and blown in insulation also have protection against moisture.
  • Can be installed in conjunction with faced insulation for extra protection.
  • Tends to be less combustible than faced insulation so can be used in closer proximity to sources of heat.
  • Can be used as a sound barrier if insulating walls or floors.

Cons

  • Most products do not have protection against moisture.
  • Can be trickier to install than faced alternatives.

What Types of Unfaced Insulation Can I Buy?

There is a variety of unfaced products you can buy.

Blanket insulation, most commonly used in the installation of attics, tends to be made of fiberglass or sheep’s wool. It is sold in rolls, can be easily installed, and is among the cheaper options to insulate your home.

Foam insulation, which is often used to insulate walls, is among the easiest to install as it is sprayed or injected into place with a machine, allowing you to fill tight spaces with ease. It also has moisture protection, so it is useful to prevent against damp and mold.

Loose fill insulation is ideal for small enclosed spaces such as under floorboards or floor joists in lofts and is installed easily by simply being blown into place.

Verdict: The Best Insulation for Your Home

Ultimately, when it comes to deciding between faced vs unfaced insulation, the best option will depend on the particular needs of your home and where exactly you want it to be installed, as well as the budget you have for insulating your property.

If you want moisture protection in a wall cavity, then using faced insulation is a clear winner. However, if you want to keep the heat in in your attic from radiating into your living space, an unfaced alternative may be better.

Remember, sometimes you may not have to choose between faced vs unfaced insulation. The best option might turn out to be a combination of the two as multiple layers, which allows you to benefit from the advantages of both options and double the strength of your protection against the elements at home.

Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most effective ways to save money on electricity bills and make your home energy efficient.

However, there are many things to consider when applying attic insulation, as it involves buying the right equipment, knowing how much material to buy, and hiring the right type of labor. Not only that, there are federal, state, and local regulations regarding home insulation that needs to be taken into account before embarking on this process.

South Carolina homeowners will need to optimize these various components to make sure they’re getting the best possible attic insulation for their homes. In this article, we discuss which components South Carolina residents need to keep an eye on to make sure their attic stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

South Carolina Attic Insulation Guide

What type of insulation is best for South Carolina attics?

Depending on which parts of your attic you’re trying to insulate, we recommend two different types of insulation material.

South Carolina Attic Insulation types

Floor Insulation

For attic floors, there are two main types of insulation: roll and batt insulation and loose-fill or blown-in insulation. Batt and roll work best between joist and stud spaces, or for wide-open spaces or crawl spaces. Blown-in insulation works best for extremely tight spaces, or if an area already has insulation installed but needs a little more to top it off. They’re also useful for filling wood joists, as they allow air through the spaces and require insulation.

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

In South Carolina, it’s more likely than not that your attic is going to need insulation in tight spaces. Blown-in insulation is perfect for that scenario, as it provides better coverage in smaller areas and is less expensive than roll and batt insulation. You can purchase fiberglass or cellulose insulation, whichever you prefer. Just remember that installing blown-in insulation is going to require a special machine that you’ll likely need to rent.

Roof Insulation

For insulation under your roof, we recommend using multi-layer reflective insulation. That might sound complicated, but we assure you it’s quite simple and is extremely beneficial for efficiently heating or cooling your home.

During the summer months, the sun’s radiant energy heats your roof shingles, which then transfers that heat into your attic through conduction. Your attic then becomes much hotter and stuffy, and the heat travels down into the rest of your home, making the entire house hot. During the winter, it has the opposite effect, as the heat generated by your heaters escapes through the attic walls.

Multi-layer reflective insulation addresses this issue by reflecting radiant heat rather than letting your attic absorb it. Thus, radiant heat can’t get through your attic roof and walls as easily, allowing your attic and the rest of your home to be better air-conditioned. During the winter, the heat generated from inside will also be reflected back into the attic and home, making your home that much warmer.

Summers are hot and humid in South Carolina, with day temperatures often above 90°F (32.2°C) on average. Nights are mild to warm in the 66°F (18.9°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) range and are warmer along the coast than the interior. Winters are mild to cold, with daily highs in the 58°F (14.4°C) to 62°F (16.7°C) range, while nights are between 38°F (3.3°C) to 42°F (5.6°C) along the coast. January nights are below freezing in the Midlands and drop significantly below freezing in the Upstate area. Air-conditioners are necessary for the summer at altitudes below 150 meters, while heaters are necessary for the winter above 150 meters.

Knowing which materials to use is a key step in the process. The subsequent component deals with just how much attic insulation you’re going to need for your South Carolina home.

How much attic insulation do you need in South Carolina?

To determine how much insulation you’re going to need, measure the length times the width of the attic or whichever space you’re trying to insulate to get the square footage. For blown-in insulation, reference the back of the package to determine the proper height to get the correct R-value for your project.

The R-value is a measurement of thermal resistance, or how much the insulation can properly resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will be in keeping warm air in or out of your attic. 

Depending on where you are in the United States, the R-value that you’ll need is going to differ due to varying climate conditions. In fact, there are 8 different climate zones designated by the U.S. Department of Energy that has different R-value recommendations for attics, basements, and other walls. Due to the lack of differences in climate between different parts of South Carolina, the state has only one climate zone.

south carolina attic insulation

Climate Zone 3 includes Abbeyville, Aiken, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Georgetown, Greenwood, Hampton, Jasper, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, Sumpter, Union, Williamsburg, York South Carolina. For Zone 3, a ceiling R-value of 38 is recommended, whereas the floor R-value should be at least 19.

Some counties might experience harsher seasonal variations and therefore require higher R-value insulation. The R-value will also depend on whether or not there is already insulation installed in your attic prior to the procedure. Typically, attics without any prior insulation are going to require higher R-values for better insulation.

Thus, square footage and R-values are important determinants of how much insulation you’re going to need for your attic. If you’re unsure about exactly how much insulation you’re going to need, there are R-value calculators online, or you can call a contractor for an accurate quote.

How much does attic insulation cost in South Carolina?

Once you’ve figured out what insulation you need and how much needs to be installed, you’re on your way to contacting a contractor and starting the process. But before you do so, it’s important to understand the costs involved with attic insulation.

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

Generally speaking, attic insulation can cost anywhere from $1,100 to $1,500, or between $1.50 to $3.50 per foot, depending on the material you choose and how much space you need to cover. As we noted earlier, blown-in insulation is the cheapest option. However, contractors often charge around $70 an hour, and in some cases, you might need to hire an electrician to make sure you aren’t disrupting any junction boxes or cables when insulating the attic. Electricians charge up to $85 an hour.

For South Carolina homes, the cost of insulating your attic doesn’t necessarily vary a whole lot, but it’s still important to research average costs depending on where you live. Every house is going to be different, and every city or county is going to have different code regulations. Make sure you check your local building codes for not only R-values but also vapor barrier requirements.

For example, homeowners in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina paid on average $1,411 for attic insulation. Compare that to another city in South Carolina, say Charleston, the average cost is about $1,272.

Manta’s database estimates attic insulation costs based on each city in South Carolina, making it a reliable tool for determining your budget. Even Manta, however, recognizes that their estimates do not include things like permit costs, inspection fees, and labor fees, as that often varies depending on location and contractor rates.

Before contacting a professional to start applying insulation, ask yourself these questions about attic-dependent work outside of insulation:

  • Is everything in your attic air sealed? Do you need to fix your ductwork to prevent moisture buildup?
  • Does your attic have good ventilation? Does everything that’s ventilating into the attic have a way out of it?
  • Is there any mold in your attic? Have you contracted someone to come remove said mold?

If you have all of these bases covered, your attic insulation budget will be far more accurate. Contractors will also have an easier time getting your attic checked and insulated if you’ve taken care of the listed components.

Incentives, tax credits, rebates, and savings programs

Here is a program that are available to South Carolina homeowners looking to add insulation:

Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit

This Federal Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit applies to energy efficiency improvements in the building envelope of existing homes and for the purchase of high-efficiency heating, cooling and water-heating equipment. Efficiency improvements or equipment must serve a dwelling in the United States that is owned and used by the taxpayer as a primary residence. The maximum tax credit for all improvements made in 2005 – 2021 is $500. The cap includes tax credits for any improvements made in any previous year. If a taxpayer claimed $500 or more of these tax credits in any previous year, any purchases made in 2006 – 2021 will be ineligible for a tax credit.

How to hire a South Carolina attic insulation contractor

Once you’ve figured out your attic insulation cost, what types of insulation you need, and how much of it that’s needed, it’s most likely time to find the contractor who can handle the process.

Get an attic inspection

An insulation contractor will be able to properly inspect your attic and decide the necessary steps to take for updating your home’s insulation. You can consult with contractors about what type of insulation to use, R-values, and many of the other components we discussed earlier. 

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

But choosing the right contractor is going to make or break the process, and it can be difficult to choose between tens of dozens of professionals who claim that they’re the best in the business. We’ve identified a few things to keep in mind when hiring an attic insulation contractor.

Make sure they are thorough

First and foremost, pick someone who is thorough and transparent about your attic. If your contractor comes by your house for an inspection, and they perform various diagnostic tests and look through every corner of your attic, that’s an indication of their experience and reliability. Beware of contractors who take a quick peek in your attic and simply suggest putting in a few inches of insulation. A good contractor should initiate conversations about your attic’s insulation and ventilation issues, and provide detailed steps on how to move forward. 

Check online reviews

But don’t base your decision on just a single interaction with the contractor. Go online and look through their services and offers. If they provide things like lifetime warranties, that means a contractor is not only confident in their work, they’re willing to follow up on their services to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Check their online reviews as well to see what others are saying about a contractor. If reviews are generally positive, that’s a sign of a reliable contractor. 

Attic insulation is anything but simple, but South Carolina homeowners will greatly benefit from doing the proper research and spending their money on the right services and products. A properly insulated attic translates into a much more comfortable and energy-efficient home. 

Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most effective ways to save money on electricity bills and make your home energy efficient.

However, there are many things to consider when applying attic insulation, as it involves buying the right equipment, knowing how much material to buy, and hiring the right type of labor. Not only that, there are federal, state, and local regulations regarding home insulation that needs to be taken into account before embarking on this process.

Virginia homeowners will need to optimize these various components to make sure they’re getting the best possible attic insulation for their homes. In this article, we discuss which components Virginia residents need to keep an eye on to make sure their attic stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Virginia Attic Insulation Guide

What type of insulation is best for Virginia attics?

Depending on which parts of your attic you’re trying to insulate, we recommend two different types of insulation material.

Virginia attic insulation types

Floor Insulation

For attic floors, there are two main types of insulation: roll and batt insulation and loose-fill or blown-in insulation. Batt and roll work best between joist and stud spaces, or for wide-open spaces or crawl spaces. Blown-in insulation works best for extremely tight spaces, or if an area already has insulation installed but needs a little more to top it off. They’re also useful for filling wood joists, as they allow air through the spaces and require insulation.

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

In Virginia, it’s more likely than not that your attic is going to need insulation in tight spaces. Blown-in insulation is perfect for that scenario, as it provides better coverage in smaller areas and is less expensive than roll and batt insulation. You can purchase fiberglass or cellulose insulation, whichever you prefer. Just remember that installing blown-in insulation is going to require a special machine that you’ll likely need to rent.

Roof Insulation

For insulation under your roof, we recommend using multi-layer reflective insulation. That might sound complicated, but we assure you it’s quite simple and is extremely beneficial for efficiently heating or cooling your home.

During the summer months, the sun’s radiant energy heats your roof shingles, which then transfers that heat into your attic through conduction. Your attic then becomes much hotter and stuffy, and the heat travels down into the rest of your home, making the entire house hot. During the winter, it has the opposite effect, as the heat generated by your heaters escapes through the attic walls.

Multi-layer reflective insulation addresses this issue by reflecting radiant heat rather than letting your attic absorb it. Thus, radiant heat can’t get through your attic roof and walls as easily, allowing your attic and the rest of your home to be better air-conditioned. During the winter, the heat generated from inside will also be reflected back into the attic and home, making your home that much warmer.

Summers range from warm to hot in Virginia, with the average high temperature at 86°F (30°C) at the peak of July. The temperatures register above 95°F (35°C) in the southern and eastern parts of the state. Winters are frigid, with average low temperatures dropping to 26°F (-3.3°C) at the peak of the cold season in January. Cold air masses lead to substantial snowfall during the invasion of Nor’easters that move up the Atlantic coast. The northern Blue Ridge Mountains endure bitter cold during the winter.

Knowing which materials to use is a key step in the process. The subsequent component deals with just how much attic insulation you’re going to need for your Virginia home.

How much attic insulation do you need in Virginia?

To determine how much insulation you’re going to need, measure the length times the width of the attic or whichever space you’re trying to insulate to get the square footage. For blown-in insulation, reference the back of the package to determine the proper height to get the correct R-value for your project.

The R-value is a measurement of thermal resistance, or how much the insulation can properly resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will be in keeping warm air in or out of your attic. 

Depending on where you are in the United States, the R-value that you’ll need is going to differ due to varying climate conditions. In fact, there are 8 different climate zones designated by the U.S. Department of Energy that has different R-value recommendations for attics, basements, and other walls. Due to the very few differences in climate between different parts of Virginia, the state is only one climate zone.

Virginia Attic Insulation RValue

Climate Zone 4 includes Albemarle, Appomattox, Arlington, Bedford, Botetourt, Brunswick, Charles, Charlottesville, Chesapeake, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Gloucester, Greene, Halifax, Henrico, Isle of Wight, James, King William, Lee, Lynchburg, Manassas, New Kent, Norfolk, Orange,  Patrick, Petersburg, Prince George, Richmond, Roanoke, Stafford, Surry, Virginia Beach, Warren, Westmoreland, Williamsburg, and York, Virginia. For Zone 4, a ceiling R-value of 49 is recommended, whereas the floor R-value should be at least 19.

Some counties might experience harsher seasonal variations and therefore require higher R-value insulation. The R-value will also depend on whether or not there is already insulation installed in your attic prior to the procedure. Typically, attics without any prior insulation are going to require higher R-values for better insulation.

Thus, square footage and R-values are important determinants of how much insulation you’re going to need for your attic. If you’re unsure about exactly how much insulation you’re going to need, there are R-value calculators online, or you can call a contractor for an accurate quote.

How much does attic insulation cost in Virginia?

Once you’ve figured out what insulation you need and how much needs to be installed, you’re on your way to contacting a contractor and starting the process. But before you do so, it’s important to understand the costs involved with attic insulation.

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

Generally speaking, attic insulation can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $1,700, or between $1.50 to $3.50 per foot, depending on the material you choose and how much space you need to cover. As we noted earlier, blown-in insulation is the cheapest option. However, contractors often charge around $80 an hour, and in some cases, you might need to hire an electrician to make sure you aren’t disrupting any junction boxes or cables when insulating the attic. Electricians charge up to $95 an hour.

For Virginia homes, the cost of insulating your attic doesn’t necessarily vary a whole lot, but it’s still important to research average costs depending on where you live. Every house is going to be different, and every city or county is going to have different code regulations. Make sure you check your local building codes for not only R-values but also vapor barrier requirements.

For example, homeowners in Arlington, Virginia paid on average $1,511 for attic insulation. Compare that to another city in Virginia, say Virginia Beach, the average cost is about $1,290.

Manta’s database estimates attic insulation costs based on each city in Virginia, making it a reliable tool for determining your budget. Even Manta, however, recognizes that their estimates do not include things like permit costs, inspection fees, and labor fees, as that often varies depending on location and contractor rates.

Before contacting a professional to start applying insulation, ask yourself these questions about attic-dependent work outside of insulation:

  • Is everything in your attic air sealed? Do you need to fix your ductwork to prevent moisture buildup?
  • Does your attic have good ventilation? Does everything that’s ventilating into the attic have a way out of it?
  • Is there any mold in your attic? Have you contracted someone to come remove said mold?

If you have all of these bases covered, your attic insulation budget will be far more accurate. Contractors will also have an easier time getting your attic checked and insulated if you’ve taken care of the listed components.

Incentives, tax credits, rebates, and savings programs

Here is a program that is available to Virginia homeowners looking to add insulation:

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

Reduces household energy use through the installation of cost-effective energy savings measures, which also improve resident health and safety.  Common measures including sealing air leaks, adding insulation, and repairing heating and cooling systems.  WAP does not offer assistance with paying utility bills.

DHCD works with a network of nonprofit organizations around the state, who directly implement the program.  Use this map to find your local provider and then contact them for an application.

How to hire a Virginia attic insulation contractor

Once you’ve figured out your attic insulation cost, what types of insulation you need, and how much of it that’s needed, it’s most likely time to find the contractor who can handle the process.

Get an attic inspection

An insulation contractor will be able to properly inspect your attic and decide the necessary steps to take for updating your home’s insulation. You can consult with contractors about what type of insulation to use, R-values, and many of the other components we discussed earlier. 

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

But choosing the right contractor is going to make or break the process, and it can be difficult to choose between tens of dozens of professionals who claim that they’re the best in the business. We’ve identified a few things to keep in mind when hiring an attic insulation contractor.

Make sure they are thorough

First and foremost, pick someone who is thorough and transparent about your attic. If your contractor comes by your house for an inspection, and they perform various diagnostic tests and look through every corner of your attic, that’s an indication of their experience and reliability. Beware of contractors who take a quick peek in your attic and simply suggest putting in a few inches of insulation. A good contractor should initiate conversations about your attic’s insulation and ventilation issues, and provide detailed steps on how to move forward. 

Check online reviews

But don’t base your decision on just a single interaction with the contractor. Go online and look through their services and offers. If they provide things like lifetime warranties, that means a contractor is not only confident in their work, they’re willing to follow up on their services to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Check their online reviews as well to see what others are saying about a contractor. If reviews are generally positive, that’s a sign of a reliable contractor. 

Attic insulation is anything but simple, but Virginia homeowners will greatly benefit from doing the proper research and spending their money on the right services and products. A properly insulated attic translates into a much more comfortable and energy-efficient home. 

Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most effective ways to save money on electricity bills and make your home energy efficient.

However, there are many things to consider when applying attic insulation, as it involves buying the right equipment, knowing how much material to buy, and hiring the right type of labor. Not only that, there are federal, state, and local regulations regarding home insulation that needs to be taken into account before embarking on this process.

Louisiana homeowners will need to optimize these various components to make sure they’re getting the best possible attic insulation for their homes. In this article, we discuss which components Louisiana residents need to keep an eye on to make sure their attic stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Louisiana Attic Insulation Guide

What type of insulation is best for Louisiana attics?

Depending on which parts of your attic you’re trying to insulate, we recommend two different types of insulation material.

Louisiana attic insulation types

Floor Insulation

For attic floors, there are two main types of insulation: roll and batt insulation and loose-fill or blown-in insulation. Batt and roll work best between joist and stud spaces, or for wide-open spaces or crawl spaces. Blown-in insulation works best for extremely tight spaces, or if an area already has insulation installed but needs a little more to top it off. They’re also useful for filling wood joists, as they allow air through the spaces and require insulation.

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

In Louisiana, it’s more likely than not that your attic is going to need insulation in tight spaces. Blown-in insulation is perfect for that scenario, as it provides better coverage in smaller areas and is less expensive than roll and batt insulation. You can purchase fiberglass or cellulose insulation, whichever you prefer. Just remember that installing blown-in insulation is going to require a special machine that you’ll likely need to rent.

Roof Insulation

For insulation under your roof, we recommend using multi-layer reflective insulation. That might sound complicated, but we assure you it’s quite simple and is extremely beneficial for efficiently heating or cooling your home.

During the summer months, the sun’s radiant energy heats your roof shingles, which then transfers that heat into your attic through conduction. Your attic then becomes much hotter and stuffy, and the heat travels down into the rest of your home, making the entire house hot. During the winter, it has the opposite effect, as the heat generated by your heaters escapes through the attic walls.

Multi-layer reflective insulation addresses this issue by reflecting radiant heat rather than letting your attic absorb it. Thus, radiant heat can’t get through your attic roof and walls as easily, allowing your attic and the rest of your home to be better air-conditioned. During the winter, the heat generated from inside will also be reflected back into the attic and home, making your home that much warmer.

Summers are hot and humid in Louisiana, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms that bring intense tropical downpours. The June to September period has average high temperatures above 90°F (32.2°C), while nights remain below 70°F (21.1°C). The high humidity and dew point make the heat feel like 120°F (48.9°C). Winters are mild in the south with day highs often above 66°F (18.9°C), while the north sees colder days below 59°F (15°C). Nights occasionally register below freezing, with average low temperatures between 37°F (2.8°C) in the north and 46°F (7.8°C) near the Gulf. Cold fronts from the north can push night temperatures below 20°F (-6.7°C) in the north.

Knowing which materials to use is a key step in the process. The subsequent component deals with just how much attic insulation you’re going to need for your Louisiana home.

How much attic insulation do you need in Louisiana?

To determine how much insulation you’re going to need, measure the length times the width of the attic or whichever space you’re trying to insulate to get the square footage. For blown-in insulation, reference the back of the package to determine the proper height to get the correct R-value for your project.

The R-value is a measurement of thermal resistance, or how much the insulation can properly resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will be in keeping warm air in or out of your attic. 

Depending on where you are in the United States, the R-value that you’ll need is going to differ due to varying climate conditions. In fact, there are 8 different climate zones designated by the U.S. Department of Energy that has different R-value recommendations for attics, basements, and other walls. Due to the differences in climate between different parts of Louisiana, the state is split into two climate zones.

Louisiana Attic Insulation RValue

Climate Zone 2 includes Acadia, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, Evangeline, Iberia, Jefferson, Layfayette, Lafourche, Orleans, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For Zone 2, a ceiling R-value of 38 is recommended, whereas the floor R-value should be at least 13.

Climate Zone 3 includes Bienville, Bossier, Caldwell, Clairborne, Concordia, De Soto, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, La Salle, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Red River, Sabine, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, and Winn.  For Zone 3, a ceiling R-value of 38 is recommended, whereas the floor R-value should be at least 19.

Some counties might experience harsher seasonal variations and therefore require higher R-value insulation. The R-value will also depend on whether or not there is already insulation installed in your attic prior to the procedure. Typically, attics without any prior insulation are going to require higher R-values for better insulation.

Thus, square footage and R-values are important determinants of how much insulation you’re going to need for your attic. If you’re unsure about exactly how much insulation you’re going to need, there are R-value calculators online, or you can call a contractor for an accurate quote.

How much does attic insulation cost in Louisiana?

Once you’ve figured out what insulation you need and how much needs to be installed, you’re on your way to contacting a contractor and starting the process. But before you do so, it’s important to understand the costs involved with attic insulation.

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

Generally speaking, attic insulation can cost anywhere from $1,100 to $1,600, or between $1.50 to $3.50 per foot, depending on the material you choose and how much space you need to cover. As we noted earlier, blown-in insulation is the cheapest option. However, contractors often charge around $70 an hour, and in some cases, you might need to hire an electrician to make sure you aren’t disrupting any junction boxes or cables when insulating the attic. Electricians charge up to $85 an hour.

For Louisiana homes, the cost of insulating your attic doesn’t necessarily vary a whole lot, but it’s still important to research average costs depending on where you live. Every house is going to be different, and every city or county is going to have different code regulations. Make sure you check your local building codes for not only R-values but also vapor barrier requirements.

For example, homeowners in New Orleans, Louisiana paid on average $1,405 for attic insulation. Compare that to another city in Louisiana, say Baton Rouge, the average cost is about $1,333.

Manta’s database estimates attic insulation costs based on each city in Louisiana, making it a reliable tool for determining your budget. Even Manta, however, recognizes that their estimates do not include things like permit costs, inspection fees, and labor fees, as that often varies depending on location and contractor rates.

Before contacting a professional to start applying insulation, ask yourself these questions about attic-dependent work outside of insulation:

  • Is everything in your attic air sealed? Do you need to fix your ductwork to prevent moisture buildup?
  • Does your attic have good ventilation? Does everything that’s ventilating into the attic have a way out of it?
  • Is there any mold in your attic? Have you contracted someone to come remove said mold?

If you have all of these bases covered, your attic insulation budget will be far more accurate. Contractors will also have an easier time getting your attic checked and insulated if you’ve taken care of the listed components.

Incentives, tax credits, rebates, and savings programs

Here are some programs that are available to Louisiana homeowners looking to add insulation:

EmPOWER Louisiana

The Empower Dashboard

The Empower Dashboard details the State Energy Program (SEP) and Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009(ARRA).  The Dashboard provides a visual representation of project location (including address, parish, senate district, and house district), as well as tabular information about Job Creation, Energy Savings, Renewable Energy Generation, and other facts about the completed projects. Empower Dashboard is free and open to everyone. 

The programs listed on this page are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. For more information on the act, click here.

Programs include lighting and appliance rebates for homeowners, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (including home energy assessments and 50% rebates for energy improvements like insulation and air sealing), commercial lighting rebates, and energy efficiency services for industrial facilities. If you are a residential, commercial, or industrial customer, you can find incentives offered by your utility on the EmPOWER website.​

How to hire a Louisiana attic insulation contractor

Once you’ve figured out your attic insulation cost, what types of insulation you need, and how much of it that’s needed, it’s most likely time to find the contractor who can handle the process.

Get an attic inspection

An insulation contractor will be able to properly inspect your attic and decide the necessary steps to take for updating your home’s insulation. You can consult with contractors about what type of insulation to use, R-values, and many of the other components we discussed earlier. 

Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.

But choosing the right contractor is going to make or break the process, and it can be difficult to choose between tens of dozens of professionals who claim that they’re the best in the business. We’ve identified a few things to keep in mind when hiring an attic insulation contractor.

Make sure they are thorough

First and foremost, pick someone who is thorough and transparent about your attic. If your contractor comes by your house for an inspection, and they perform various diagnostic tests and look through every corner of your attic, that’s an indication of their experience and reliability. Beware of contractors who take a quick peek in your attic and simply suggest putting in a few inches of insulation. A good contractor should initiate conversations about your attic’s insulation and ventilation issues, and provide detailed steps on how to move forward. 

Check online reviews

But don’t base your decision on just a single interaction with the contractor. Go online and look through their services and offers. If they provide things like lifetime warranties, that means a contractor is not only confident in their work, they’re willing to follow up on their services to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Check their online reviews as well to see what others are saying about a contractor. If reviews are generally positive, that’s a sign of a reliable contractor. 

Attic insulation is anything but simple, but Louisiana homeowners will greatly benefit from doing the proper research and spending their money on the right services and products. A properly insulated attic translates into a much more comfortable and energy-efficient home.