Exterior insulation can increase thermal resistance during hot days and condensation resistance in cold seasons. Soft insulation materials like fiberglass and sheep wool are popular. Rigid boards and foams are also common alternatives with more benefits. Foam insulation features rugged materials like polyurethane and polystyrene. The materials are closed-cell, strong, durable, and resistant to natural elements like heat and moisture.
4 Best Places to Install Rigid Insulation
Rigid board insulations include EPS (expanded polystyrene), XPS (extruded polystyrene), PIC (polyisocyanurate), and MF (mineral fiber). They are excellent for different areas, including foundation walls, regular walls, crawl spaces, basements, roofs, and attics. Rigid insulation options are also moisture-resistant and recommended for external or below-grade applications. Here are four places where rigid insulation is most beneficial:
1. Roofs & Attics
Indoor heat loss through the attic floor is the most common because hot air rises to the ceiling. Insulating the attic floor can prevent this heat loss during winter and other cold seasons. Attic insulation also prevents heat gain during the summer. You can install foam insulation on the attic floor to maintain internal temperatures.
Choose insulation with a higher R-rating, preferably thicker sheets. Thick foams with high R-ratings offer the best insulation if you live in regions with extreme climates. Rigid insulation options also come in flat sheets like plywood, making them easier to install in ceilings and narrow attics. Rigid materials are waterproof and last longer than soft options.
2. Foundation & Basement Walls
You should install rigid insulation on your foundation and basement wall. Soft insulation options can soak moisture and cause structural damage or mold. Rigid boards and foams are the best options for below-grade insulation. They are more durable than soft insulation and offer better moisture resistance.
If you have an unfinished basement, installing rigid insulation will provide moisture protection and reduce heat loss. Rigid insulation options also reinforce the walls and foundations. EPS insulation foams can go under the slab and are environmentally friendly. Choose thicker options for better insulation and longevity.
3. Floor & Crawl Spaces
The space underneath your building allows you to access the plumbing and electrical wiring but also permits heat transfer. During cold days, the crawl space will keep the floor perpetually cold, acting as a heat sink. You can fit the crawl space with rigid insulation to prevent heat loss or gain during different seasons. Consider installing insulation batts beneath the subfloor.
Rigid foams work well on crawl spaces because they’re tough, moisture-resistant, and resilient to the elements. Soft insulation isn’t durable enough to withstand the harsh conditions of the crawl space. The options also absorb moisture and can present a problem as the insulation ages. Rigid boards and foams can last several years at peak performance.
4. Regular Walls
You can add rigid insulation to your regular walls to help prevent heat loss during cold seasons. Rigid insulation is ideal for regular walls because the continuous layer eliminates thermal bridges. You can add custom amounts of exterior insulation to the wall assembly based on your design goals and climate zone.
The minimum insulation volume must meet the requirements for vapor control and building and energy code. You can use more insulation to increase the R-value and thermal performance. Rigid wall insulations can also be installed in single or multiple layers. The installer will offset the joints when using multiple layers to reduce heat exchange.
Using Rigid Foam Insulation in Your Home
Homeowners looking for affordable, efficient insulation should choose rigid options. Rigid insulation work in any other part of the house. You can install them on your ceiling, walls, floors, and basements. The material comes in standard rectangular dimensions for easy installation. You can also customize the material to fit your space. Foam is the choice material for rigid insulation and comes in different thicknesses, sizes, and R-values.
When looking for rigid insulation, stick to premium insulation materials. Choose options with a higher R-value to prevent heat transfer in the insulated areas. You should also work with reputable brands and professionals that can guarantee quality products and installation.
Experienced building supply companies are best suited for the job and can help you identify the best insulation materials. You can also discuss any concerns to seek clarification. The best foam insulation can be customized to your property and personal needs.
Local building codes and requirements also influence the type of insulation you can use. Your insulation supplier and installer can help you review local requirements and the pros/cons of each option. The goal is to use the best products and achieve professional installation. Rigid insulation is a perfect alternative for all areas except spaces that require better fire resistance.