How to Install 2 Types of Insulation in Your Attic
Most homes have unfinished attics. This can be problematic for two reasons: an unfinished attic causes the home to lose heat, and it is wasted real estate.
Thankfully, there are ways to fix both of these problems. If your attic is empty, use blown insulation to keep warm air in the rooms below and out of the attic. If you plan to remodel the attic into a useable space such as a bedroom, you’ll need to install Batt insulation in the attic ceiling and walls.
Both of these insulation types can be installed by a professional contractor for a price, but it’s significantly less expensive to do it on your own. Here is a basic overview of do-it-yourself installation for both these insulation types.
Before Getting Started
While working with insulation, whichever type you choose, it’s important to protect your body. You should wear long sleeves and pants, sturdy shoes that cover your ankles, and work gloves.
You should also wear goggles or work glasses, a hat, and a respiratory mask rated for insulation.
Insulation fibers can irritate the skin, which is why it’s important to cover up as much as possible.
Before beginning your project, lay down a few pieces of plywood across the joists to make a walkway. Be sure the walkway extends far enough into the attic that you can get insulation into the far corners. To protect the walkway from being covered in insulation, stand cardboard around the edges.
Since the insulation will cover the floor, it’s important to keep it away from any lighting fixtures or vents that are in the floor. Install flashing around any floor fixtures. If flashing is already installed, check to make sure it’s secure before continuing with the installation.
While you’re preparing the attic, mark the beams or trusses at the depth you’ll want the insulation to reach so you won’t have to stop and measure during the installation.
Cellulose insulation is sold in bags depending on how much square footage you need to cover and the R-value of the insulation, which tells how well it holds in heat. If you need help deciding how much you need, ask a company that specializes in attic insulation. Toronto has some great companies if you happen to live in the area, and most can also offer advice over the phone.
The insulation is blown into the space using a wide hose and blower, which you can rent from a rental company or home improvement retailer.
During the installation, it’s best to have a partner who can keep the blower full of insulation while you man the hose upstairs. The cellulose will need to be crumbled so it doesn’t clog the hose.
Standing on your walkway, blow the cellulose into the far corners first, then move towards the center. Move your walkway out of the way as you go. The last part covered should be the floor around the attic hatch.
The best time to install Batt insulation in the attic ceiling is after you’ve installed the flooring. That way you’ll be able to move around freely without falling through into the rooms below.
Batt insulation is made out of spun fiberglass that’s been compressed together until it’s fluffy like cotton. It’s used to insulate between studs in walls or a roof, so make sure the batts are sized to fit between the studs. The batts should fit snugly enough that they don’t fall out.
Before installing, make sure there is a layer of waterproofing material between the insulation and the underside of the roof. If necessary, install ventilation chutes at this time as well.
You’ll need a sharp utility knife to cut the batting after you’ve fit it into place, and to cut the insulation to fit around any wiring, vents, or fixtures in the ceiling. If the Batt is too long, cut it with an inch or so extra, and tuck the extra into the space so it fits snugly. If the Batt is too short, cut a piece from another Batt and fit it into the empty space.
Some Batt insulation’s come with a paper facing on one side. Be sure to leave this side facing into the room to keep fibers from falling out.
Once all the insulation is in place, you can put up the drywall that will become the attic ceiling.
A properly insulated home is the only way to keep the interior temperature comfortable and reduce energy bills. Since the attic is a prime location for heat loss from a home, make sure yours is adequately insulated, no matter what you use your attic for.