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The winter has set in... Let's talk insulation

Now that the cold weather of winter has finally set in perhaps you've begun to think about why your furnace is running so often, or why it seems your home always feels a bit chilly. Below is some helpful information regarding types of insulation commonly found in Canada.

What is Insulation

Insulators are installed in or around structural elements of your home. These products are designed to act as barriers, preventing heat transfers between interior and exterior regions of the property. In the process, they help keep your home at a pleasant temperature all year around, even in extreme weather.

R – Values

R-value measures a material’s resistance to heat transfer, the higher the R-value the more difficult it is for heat to transfer through the material. Different R-values will be more suited to different structural elements. While R-values for walls, crawlspaces and floors are usually recommended at around R-21 to R-30, R-values for attics and roofs can range from R-30 to R-60.

Insulation Types

Loose-Fill Insulation

Loose-fill insulation comes in the form of small fluffy granules. These particles are blown or poured into wall cavities, unfinished flooring and other irregular areas using specialized equipment. Loose-fill insulation can be found in a variety of materials including:

Cellulose This form of loose-fill insulation is made from 70-85% recycled paper, of the kind used for newspapers and cardboard boxes. These waste materials are pulverized, and chemically treated to be fireproof and insect resistant. R-values per inch of thickness are generally around 3.1 to 3.7 per inch of thickness, with final insulation value depending on the depth and density of the insulation.

Fiberglass While fiberglass insulation often contains a fair portion of wastepaper as well, at least 20-30% of this material is made up of recycled glass which is melted and spun into dense fibers. R-values for fiberglass are around 2.2 to 2.9 per inch of thickness.

Mineral Wool Also known as rock wool insulation, this material is similar to fiberglass in texture but it is spun from metal byproducts produced during the smelting process. Mineral wool has an R-value of 2.2 to 2.9 per inch of thickness.

Batt Insulation

Batts are made from loose-fill insulation that has been joined together with a form of adhesive. They are considered to be quite user-friendly and are generally used for DIY insulation projects or vertical installation as they are built to fit between attic beams, wall studs, and floor joists. Although batts can be found in a variety of materials including mineral wool and plastic fibers, they are most often constructed with fiberglass.

Sprayed Insulation

Sprayed insulation usually comes in the form of polyurethane foam which is used to fill gaps and open cavities in existing walls, although it can also be used on the underside of attic rafters and in floor joists. Once sprayed into a cavity, this form of insulation will set and harden. It then needs to be covered by a barrier (usually drywall) to provide adequate protection during fires. Sprayed insulation can be found in both open-cell and closed-cell forms. Closed cell foam is denser and has a higher R-value of around 6.2 per square inch of thickness, while open cell foam has an R-value of around 3.7 – 5.6 per square inch of thickness.

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