Serving Southeast Alaska's
Insulation and Home Performance Needs

Insulation Comparison

Insulation Comparison is a very Important subject that can be subjective. We will try to be as objective as possible and offer you the facts and the basics and let you draw your own conclusions. We just want to let you know that there are alternatives and technologies available that can significantly reduce your energy use, energy bills and help you have a happy, healthy home. Most modern insulations practically eliminates the mold issue. No ice dams. A smaller heating system does the same job. Better soundproofing. The list of benefits is very long... and we need to start by giving you the basic overview of the 3 types of insulation available.

  1. Solid fill insulations   BEST
    • These Include Spray On Insulations, Polyurethane Foam and  Wall Spray Cellulose.
  2. Blown in insulations    BETTER
    • These Include Blown In Dry Insulations, including Loose Fill Fiberglass, Rock Wool, and Cellulose Insulation Applications.
  3. Batt Type Pieced-in Insulations    GOOD
    • These include Fiberglass Batts, Cotton Batts and Foam Boards

Of these 3 types of insulation Fiberglass batts, Cellulose (blow-in and spray applied) and Spray Foam are the most common:

Fiberglass Batts are the most common and one of the least expensive, It is the insulation material to which all other insulation materials are compared with respect to R Value. Fiberglass batts can be easily installed with the use of only a tape masure a utility knife and a respirator. The downside to Fiberglass batt insulation is it's inability to stop air movement. Air infiltration through Fiberglass batts greatly reduces it's effective R value.

Cellulose Insulation is one of the greenest building products in the world.

Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newsprint and other paper sources, paper that might otherwise end up in landfills, this product is then treated with natural borates, these borates serve as a fire retardant and mold inhibitor. A frequent argument against using Cellulose insulation is the myth that it is more prone to mold than other insulation materials. This is simply not true. Cellulose insulation is no more subject to mold contamination than any other other building material--including fiberglass insulation.

Cellulose takes less energy to make than any other insulation material. This is known as embodied energy and includes the total energy required to transport raw materials, manufacture and distribute the product. Fiberglass has up to 10 times more embodied energy than cellulose and foam products up to 64 times.

  • Cellulose has the highest level of recycled content in the insulation industry - up to 85%. Cellulose insulation is made with recycled paper, paper that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Fiberglass has a maximum of 40% recycled content and foam products little or none.
  • Cellulose insulation scrap is recovered and recycled on-site. Fiberglass and foam residue go to a landfill, and don’t decompose.

Cellulose insilation is installed by a trained contractor with special equipment. The cost of Cellulose insulation is comparable to Fiberglass batts and Cellulose provides superior thermal protection and sound deadening.

Spray Foam Insulation is an excellent insulating and airsealing material, it is the most expensive of these different types of insulation and has the highest R value at R6 per inch compared to Fiberglass batts at R3.5 and Celluloe at R4 per inch. Spray foam insulation when applied at thicknesses greater than 1.8 lnches is also a vapor barrier, for this reason it is very important that it be applied in only the proper locations. A vapor barrier on the cold side of a wall. floor or ceiling assembly can do more harm than good if not properly applied. Another consideration when comparing materials and costs is that according to the International Building Code Spray Foam insulation must be covered or protected by a thermal barrier due to it's flammable nature. Please see the burn time comparison videos on our "Photos and Video" page.

HomeTech uses all of these insulating materials for different projects. We typically recommend Cellulose because of it's relative low price and recycled content. We use it in retro-fit and weatherization applications as well as new home construction,  

A wall insulated with Cellulose Insulation is a marvel to see... when you see a wall thermolitically sealed with Cellulose Insulation, it's so obvious that it is better insulation, that your decision becomes easy and made with confidence.