Faced vs Unfaced 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.