What are the Different Roof Insulation Types?


Insulation is an important material in every home. Proper insulation can provide your home with various benefits like improving overall year-round comfort by keeping you cool during summer and warm throughout winter.

But did you know different insulation types exist for a roof?

Learn what these different roof insulation types are, and ensure you get the kind you want when searching for roofing companies to hire to insulate!

Understanding What Type to Consider

All types of roof insulation have an R-Value. Yet, what exactly is it? And how is it important? R-Value is a way to understand how effectively insulation blocks heat flow. Think of it as the best method of measuring how much heat can be kept inside your home during cold days and keep out during hot ones.

Minimum insulation is reflected in an R-Value of below R30, which would be great for homes in hotter climates. Meanwhile, colder places should consider maximum insulation by choosing anything with an R-Value closer to R60. Any new insulation you add to existing insulation can be at a lower R-Value.

Types of Roof Insulation

House thermal insulation with mineral wool

Get the most out of your roof insulation by seeing the types of insulation you can choose from and know which one would be more suitable for your roof!

Spray Foam

Spray foam is the most commonly used type of insulation for your roof. What makes this insulation effective comes from its makeup of polyurethane foam that’s applied to the underside of your roof deck and directly on slates and tiles. Once bonded together, it effectively seals all cracks and prevents any moisture, wind, heat, and cool air from seeping inside. However, installing spray foam requires hiring a contractor and is quite expensive.

Radiant Barriers & Reflective Insulation

Both radiant barriers and reflective insulation can control heat flow by reflecting radiant heat and are best used in regions that are hotter normally. It uses reflective material like aluminium foil to redirect radiant heat away from any surfaces and will heat any solid that absorbs its energy. For this particular insulation to be effective, it must face a large air space. Additionally, it’s not recommended for cooler climates because it’s not as cost-effective.

Rigid Insulation Boards

Known more for insulating living spaces than attics, this can still be a viable roofing insulation option. They come as foam boards with dense layers of closed-cell foam that can include either material: polyisocyanurate or polyiso, extruded polystyrene (XPS) or expanded polystyrene (EPS). This insulation is rather easy to install yourself. However, depending on the material used, it can have a high R-Value but will be expensive. Additionally, it’s not ideal to use the attic as a living space since it’s treated with chemical fire retardant that can have negative health effects.

Batt Insulation

You can spot this insulation from its pinkish hue! Batt insulation can be made up of mineral wool, but it’s normally fibreglass. It’s rather common since it’s inexpensive, available in various sizes, easy to transport, and you can install it yourself. Moisture resistance is its hallmark feature, which is great for more humid places. However, it’s not very energy efficient as a result. In addition, glass fibres are a safety hazard because they can irritate your skin and eyes and potentially cause lung damage.

Fibreglass or Cellulose for Loose-Fill or Blown-In

Consider insulating your roof with this type if you have a large space with hard-to-reach places! It accomplishes this by being blown into the area with a flexible tube, making it great for retrofit.

Common materials include:

  • Fibreglass (bits of recycled glass).
  • Cellulose (recycled newspaper).
  • Mineral wool (post-industrial recycled content).

If you’re worried about flammability, fibreglass is non-flammable while cellulose is. However, cellulose is better for colder places, more durable, and poses no health risks. Either one can help control R-Value, but both can deflate over time.

Structural Insulated Panels

You can identify structural insulated panels as plywood with foam sandwiched between them. Their makeup makes them a popular choice for durability and energy efficiency since it’s highly thermal resistant with air sealing qualities. Unfortunately, the downside to this type is that it’s difficult to retrofit. Plus, it’s susceptible to moisture, and for you to install it, you would need to call in a professional to ensure the sizing is right.

It’s no surprise that most people don’t know various types of insulation exist for roofs. All come with their pros and cons. But, ultimately, the one that fits your needs the most is the one that will be the best!

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