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.

Blown Insulation

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.

Batt Insulation

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.

Wrap Up

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.

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5 Responses

  1. Barry says:

    Great article Chris. Having installed insulation before in Florida, it is import to make sure that you select the correct type of insulation. There are a few factors to consider when making the selection. First the amount of space in the attic, second, the bulk density of the insulation or R-Value, and finally the ease of access that you have to the attic area.

    Knowing how much space you have in the attic will help you determine the cost of the job ahead. Depending on the type of material selected the cost can increase.
    Normally the cost can range from as little as $1.00 to $5.00 per square foot depending on where you live. If you want an accurate quote, contact a local provider and have them give you an estimate.

    R-value is the insulation density and thickness, which will determine the amount of thermal resistance. Keep in mind that your local and state regulations may require a certain R-value so check before you get started.

    Now that you have check with you local government, you will need to determine the R-value of your existing insulation. To do this, measure the depth of the insulation in your attic and determine the type of insulation used. If your not sure, go to the local hardware store and ask one the employees in that section to help you. For example, loose-file insulation has an R-value of 2.8 per inch; fiberglass loose fill has an R-value of 3.7 per inch; and, cellulose has an R-value of 3.7 per inch. Generally, all fiberglass batt will have an R-value of 3.2 per inch of thickness.

    Now for the day that your math teacher warned you about where you would need math. To determine the existing R-value in your attic, multiple the insulation thickness by the R-value of the material used. Therefore, if you have 10 inches of Fiberglass loose multiply 10 x 2.5 and you have an R-value 25.

    Not all attics are alike! Depending on the type of access and materials used you may require the assistance of a friend or neighbor to get the job done.

  2. Thank you for sharing this information on these 2 types of insulation we can use in the attic. My wife and I have lived in our new home for about 6 months and I have been wondering what we should do with our attic. We would like to store some things up there, but it gets too hot in the summer time. This is why we think it would be great to get it insulated. I think I will go with batt insulation because it is usually installed after the flooring, like you said. Thanks again!

  3. Raj says:

    A very useful insightful post shared. Attic insulation will really helps during winter and summer. Thanks for sharing these two types.

  4. leeshin says:

    insulation itself a biggest task and that cannot be done as DIY. doing double insulation is still more difficult and contacting the insulation contractors is always the wise choice

  5. Kody Loveless says:

    Thanks for the great advice. I really like the idea of marking the beams at the level you want the insulation to be. I can see how that would help it all look very nice and uninformed. I like when things look uninformed.

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