If you’re looking to insulate your home, after doing some Googling online, you’re likely to ask: What’s the difference in using faced vs. unfaced insulation?
The answer to this might be more complex than you think. However, working out the difference between the two can be relatively easy, depending on the particular properties of your home and which parts need insulating.
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about faced vs. unfaced insulation, including where to install it, the pros and cons of each, and the types you can buy.
Faced and unfaced insulation differ in the presence or absence of a vapor barrier or facing material. Here are 5-7 key points to consider when deciding which type of insulation is better for your application:
- Has a vapor barrier or facing material that helps to prevent moisture from penetrating the insulation.
- Can help to improve indoor air quality by reducing the potential for mold growth and improving energy efficiency.
- Is often used in areas where moisture is a concern, such as in bathrooms or basements.
- Is typically easier to install, as the facing material provides a guide for stapling or attaching the insulation to the framing.
- Provides a finished appearance without the need for additional sheathing or finishing materials.
- Can be more expensive than unfaced insulation due to the additional facing material.
- Is typically not suitable for areas where there may be frequent temperature changes, as the facing material can trap moisture and reduce insulation effectiveness.
- Does not have a vapor barrier or facing material, which allows for greater flexibility in the installation.
- Is often used in areas where there is less moisture, such as in attics or crawl spaces.
- Can be less expensive than faced insulation due to the absence of facing material.
- Requires additional finishing materials such as sheathing or drywall to achieve a finished appearance.
- Can be more effective in areas with frequent temperature changes, as there is no facing material to trap moisture and reduce insulation effectiveness.
- Requires additional care during installation to ensure that it is properly sealed to prevent air leaks and maintain insulation effectiveness.
- May require professional installation, especially for spray foam insulation, which can be more difficult to apply than batt or blown-in insulation.
Reasons to Insulate Your Home
Before we tell you more about the different types of faced vs. unfaced insulation available for your home, some 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. Also, the benefits of insulating your home greatly exceed 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:
- It will save you money. The most common reason families insulate their homes is to reduce heating costs. As much as 35% of heat in your home is lost through the walls, and another 25% is lost through the roof, so you must insulate these to keep costs down.
- 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.
- 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, which could lead to mold.
- It offers a more stable home temperature. Your home’s indoor temperature will be much more consistent over the year, keeping you warm in the summer and cool in the winter.
Areas of Your Home to Insulate
There are three main areas of your home that you want to consider insulating, them being:
1. The Attic
The attic is the most common part of the home people want to insulate. Installation occurs either just below the roof or just above the ceiling of the property’s top floor.
2. The Walls
Walls are also a common insulated area, particularly in newer, more modern properties. Depending on the wall, you can install cavity, external, 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, you can insulate suspended traditional floors as well.
Whether you want faced vs. unfaced insulation may depend on which area of your home needs insulating.
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 must be stapled to the wall studs and joists to guarantee adequate protection against moisture.
- 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.
- It 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.
- It can be more flammable than unfaced alternatives, so you should ensure that it does not contact heating or electrical devices.
What Types of Faced Insulation Can I Buy?
There are several types of faced insulation available on the market, including:
- Fiberglass batts with kraft paper facing: These are the most common type of faced insulation and are used in walls, floors, and ceilings. The paper facing acts as a vapor barrier, preventing moisture from penetrating the insulation.
- Foil-faced insulation: This type of insulation has a reflective foil facing that helps to reflect heat away from the insulation, making it ideal for use in hot climates. It is also effective at reducing radiant heat transfer.
- Vinyl-faced insulation: This type of insulation has a vinyl facing that provides a moisture barrier and is commonly used in crawl spaces and basements.
- Flame-retardant faced insulation: This type of insulation has a flame-retardant facing that provides additional fire protection. It is commonly used in commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings.
When choosing faced insulation, it’s important to consider factors such as R-value, the thickness of the insulation, the facing material, and the intended use of the insulation. It’s also important to follow installation guidelines carefully to ensure proper performance.
What is Unfaced Insulation?
Unfaced insulation is insulation that lacks the thin protective outer layer described above.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this type of insulation may not protect against humidity and moisture. Some unfaced materials, such as blown in insulation, are designed to protect against moisture without any additional layers.
- Typically cheaper than faced alternatives.
- Some options, such as spray foam and blown-in insulation, also protect against moisture.
- It can be installed in conjunction with faced insulation for extra protection.
- It tends to be less combustible than faced insulation so it can be used in closer proximity to sources of heat.
- It can be used as a sound barrier if insulating walls or floors.
- Most products do not have protection against moisture.
- It can be trickier to install than faced alternatives.
What Types of Unfaced Insulation Can I Buy?
There are several types of unfaced insulation available on the market, including:
- Fiberglass batts: These are the most common type of unfaced insulation and are used in walls, floors, and ceilings. They come in a variety of thicknesses and R-values.
- Mineral wool: This type of insulation is made from rock or slag fibers and is used in walls, floors, and ceilings. It is known for its fire resistance and soundproofing capabilities.
- Cellulose: This insulation is made from recycled newspaper and is blown or sprayed into walls and ceilings. It is known for its thermal performance and soundproofing capabilities.
- Spray foam: This type of insulation is applied as a liquid that expands to fill the space and hardens into a solid. It is commonly used in walls, roofs, and foundations.
When choosing unfaced insulation, it’s important to consider factors such as R-value, the insulation’s thickness, and its intended use. It’s also important to follow installation guidelines carefully to ensure proper performance. Additionally, some types of insulation may require professional installation, so be sure to read the product specifications and instructions carefully before purchasing.
Verdict: The Best Insulation for Your Home
Ultimately, when 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, faced insulation is a clear winner. However, an unfaced alternative may be better if you want to keep the heat in your attic from radiating into your living space.
Remember, sometimes you may not have to choose between faced vs. unfaced insulation. The best option might 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.