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Choosing between Types of Home Insulation

When insulating a house, you can choose from several types of insulation: fiberglass, rock wool, and cellulose. All the types of home insulation work, but each has different advantages.

Fiberglass insulation has fibers that can irritate your skin and lungs, so use the right precautions (gloves, breathing apparatus, protective clothing, goggles, and a hat) to reduce an itchy aftermath. In fact, these safety precautions should be followed regardless of the type of insulation.

  • Fiberglass insulation is the most common type of insulation and is available as either batts or loose fill. It’is relatively inexpensive, and the batts are very easy to install. Finally, it’is non-flammable and resists damage from water.

    When installing batt insulation, always place the side with the backing toward the inside of the home. For example, with ceilings, the backing goes down, and for floors, the backing faces up.

  • Mineral wool insulation, or rock wool insulation, is similar to fiberglass. It is more expensive and somewhat more difficult to find, but doesn’t cause the same itchy reaction. It looks like dryer lint and can be dusty when handled. Rock wool comes in loose fill that can be blown in or poured out of bags.

    Rock wool can cake when wet and naturally settles over time. Either of these conditions will diminish its insulating value.

  • Cellulose insulation is an organic, loose-fill material made from recycled paper. It has to be chemically treated to resist attack from moisture and pests. Moisture absorption can make cellulose heavier, causing it to become compacted and lose its insulative value.

When loose-fill insulation compacts, you should vacuum out the old and start fresh.

You can mix and match the various kinds of insulation. For example, if you have cellulose insulation, and more insulation is needed, you can add any type you wish. It is also acceptable to use batts over loose-fill material and loose-fill material over batts.

Taking a cold shower after working with insulation helps remove tiny fibers that make their way to your skin. Don’t take a hot shower. Doing so opens the pores of your skin and allows the pesky fibers more opportunity to make you uncomfortable.

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