Choosing Between Faced and Unfaced Fiberglass Insulation Batts

For many homeowners, insulation is an ever-present concern. Due to changes in weather throughout the year, there is a need to be vigilant and to constantly check the condition of previously installed insulation in your house. Even the slightest damage or deterioration can lead to tangible changes in the atmosphere of your living spaces. You might also notice an increase in your electricity bill due to the need to use your air conditioner or heater more often.

You can easily manage or enhance the insulation of your home through materials such as fiberglass batts and rolls. These ready-made insulation solutions are easily available in hardware and home improvement stores and present as the most immediate and economical solution to your insulation needs. You can easily install them on the walls of your home with little need for professional equipment or tools. All you need to do is to carefully assess and measure the spaces that need insulation and to cut the appropriate size of material to apply.

Installing Insulation

Using ordinary implements, like a measuring tape and a knife or cutter, will allow you to easily measure and cut out the fiberglass insulation batt or roll to the dimensions and shape that you require. Just keep in mind that you need to provide an allowance of around a quarter of an inch all over to ensure a snug fit into the wall or floor. You may also need a stapler to keep the batts more securely into place. 

Don’t stuff or squeeze the batts so as not to compromise the insulating properties of the material. Cut the batt and create notches to fit around objects on the wall such as electrical boxes. As for pipes and electrical wires, you may split the batt and insert them in between so as not to compress the batt and affect its insulation performance. 

Choosing the Right Kind

Also remember that you need to choose the right insulation rating or R-value of fiberglass insulation batt depending on your need, the area of the house concerned, or the climatic conditions in your town or city. For most walls in the home, an R-value rating of R13 to R15 would be sufficient to achieve ample insulation. For 2×6 walls as well as crawl spaces, R19 insulation products would be most ideal. Floors and larger areas such as attics would generally require products with higher insulation ratings.

Insulation batts also come in two types—faced and unfaced. Faced insulation batt means one side of the blanket or roll has a vapor retarder, usually in the form of Kraft paper or a plastic sheet. The purpose of this is to prevent moisture from entering or leaving the space. When using fiberglass insulation batt, choosing between the faced or unfaced variant would depend on your needs and the condition of your home. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Purpose of Installation

Faced insulation batt is generally ideal for first-time installation in the house or building. It is, also, usually applied on exterior walls as well as ceilings, floor, and attics. Other spaces may require a different kind of insulation method that ensures better air tightness. To enhance or improve existing insulation, unfaced insulation is better to use. Think of the latter as stuffing that you add to the walls and floors of the house to improve insulation or to replace old, worn-out insulation.

Ease of Installation

You may find that faced insulation batts are also easier to apply because the extra layer of paper or plastic makes the material stiffer and more handy to measure, cut, and install. Unfaced insulation batts are a bit more unwieldy and may be difficult to secure in place using a stapler.

Building Code Requirements

Some local building codes require insulation with vapor retarders, depending on the climate of the place where the structure is located. Homes in colder climates usually do not require insulation batts with facing. However, if needed, install the batt with the vapor barrier facing the exterior of the home. On the other hand, in warmer locations, the insulation  installed with the barrier facing toward the interior of the home is best.

Fireproofing and Soundproofing

Fiberglass is a non-flammable material because it is made of fibers spun from molten glass. However, the batt may become a fire hazard when it comes with a paper vapor barrier. This also restricts the use of faced insulation batts in areas near fire or heat sources. When soundproofing your home or living space as well, use unfaced insulation batts as they make the better choice, especially when it comes to fortifying insulation on existing walls and floors.

Whether faced or unfaced, fiberglass insulation batt and rolls remain to be a practical, convenient and immediate way to insulate your home. You just need to take into consideration these pros and cons in determining whether your home insulation system requires a vapor barrier or not. When in doubt, you may consult a building or construction expert to help you determine the best type of insulation for your house. 


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