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How to Insulate an Attic
Amanda Ringler

By: Amanda Ringler on August 4th, 2017

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How to Insulate an Attic

attic insulation  |  cellulose attic insulation  |  fiberglass attic insulation  |  insulation  |  News  |  open cell spray foam  |  spray foam attic insulation

You know your attic is in need of new insulation, but the big question remains – how do you insulate it?

Inadequate or no insulation in your attic can cause several problems, including problems maintaining a constant temperature, high monthly energy bills, and mold and mildew growth, just to name a few.

RetroFoam of Michigan has more than 15 years insulating thousands of attics across the Mitten, so we know quite a bit about how to get the job done. As part of our mission to educate homeowners, we will discuss the most common ways to insulate an attic in Michigan, including using cellulose, fiberglass, and spray foam insulation.

Cellulose Attic Insulation

cellulose home insulation

Cellulose is the oldest insulation material used in homes and is made up of recycled newspapers or denim. These small particles form an insulation material that conforms to most spaces without disturbing the structure or finish.

The material can be either loose-fill or blown-in and can be used in the attic.

Pros vs Cons of Cellulose Attic Insulation

There can be advantages and disadvantages when insulating an attic with cellulose insulation.

The pros of insulating the attic with cellulose is that it can be a Do-It-Yourself project and is a fairly inexpensive insulation material. The cons of using cellulose is that the material can create a mess all throughout your home if it isn’t installed correctly. Loose-fill cellulose in an attic with furnace duct systems will circulate dust from the material throughout the home.

Cellulose Attic Insulation Installation Process

Cellulose insulation can be installed as blow-in loose-fill or dense packed. It can also be spray applied with moisture added.

The dry blown-in cellulose insulation can be installed by using a machine to blow the material into the attic.

When cellulose insulation is damp sprayed into the attic, a small amount of moisture is added at the spray nozzle tip, adding natural starches in the material helping it adhere to either the roof deck or floor of the attic.

Blown-in and dense packed insulation can be installed as a DIY project or you can hire an experienced contractor. Homeowners with handyman experience are well suited for the insulation, but others who aren’t as experienced would be better off leaving the job to the professionals.

Cellulose Insulation Cost

The cost to insulate an attic with cellulose insulation can vary greatly depending on the material you plan to use and the size of the area to be insulated. Another cost to consider is all the materials like gloves, face masks, goggles, and even the machinery to install the insulation.

Just adding more cellulose to existing insulation would be cheaper than if the attic has no insulation at all because more material is required.

Hiring an experienced contractor is the more expensive option, but can save the homeowner money in the long-run and is less stress. Many times if a homeowner isn’t experienced in installing the cellulose, they will use more product than they need as they attempt to figure out the correct coverage.

Fiberglass Attic Insulation

attic fiberglass insulation

Fiberglass insulation is made of extremely fine glass fibers. It is an insulation material that is used as batts and rolls or loose-fill.

Pros vs Cons of Fiberglass Attic Insulation

There are pros and cons when installing and handling fiberglass insulation. While it can be an inexpensive DIY project, the homeowner must ensure they take the proper safety precautions.

When handling fiberglass insulation, a person must wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, pants, goggles, and a face mask. Small fiberglass materials can come in contact with the skin and lodge in the pores and can even be inhaled.

Fiberglass Attic Insulation Installation Process

Fiberglass insulation can be installed in the attic as either a DIY project or a homeowner can hire an experienced and licensed contractor.

Fiberglass batts are typically stapled into place in the attic. These batts are manufactured with a paper or foil backing that faces the direction of a source of warmth.

Bags of fiberglass come as a loose-fill that can be blown into the attic cavities.

A handyman homeowner can install either form of fiberglass in the attic on their own, but must take precaution when handling the material. The insulation must also be cut to perfectly fit the cavities in the attic, or air leaks will still occur.

Fiberglass Insulation Cost

The cost to insulate your attic with fiberglass varies depending on the size of the area to be insulated, the amount of labor needed if a contractor is hired, and also the cost of supplies.

Making the fiberglass insulation installation a DIY project is cheaper, but if there is problems along the way it could end up costing the homeowner more money in wasted materials.

Spray Foam Attic Insulation

How to insulate an attic

Spray foam insulation is a water-blown and organic chemical compound derived from petroleum extracts. Open cell spray foam insulation can expand up to 100 times its original size to fill every nook and cranny of the attic area.

Pros vs Cons of Spray Foam Attic Insulation

Spray foam insulation creates an air seal in the home that can not only make it more comfortable, but also save money on monthly energy bills. Another pro of spray foam insulation is that there is no dust that can spread throughout the home during the installation or over time.

The cons of spray foam insulation are that the material must be installed by a licensed and experienced contractor. Some brands of open cell spray foam have a slight odor following the installation, so it’s important to know what is being installed in the attic.

While spray foam insulation is the more expensive option, the savings on monthly energy bills are higher than more traditional forms of insulation. With spray foam attic insulation the house will also be more comfortable with the air seal.

Another benefit of spray foam attic insulation is that the material lasts a lifetime and doesn’t need to be maintained like traditional insulation that would need to be replaced in the future.

Spray Foam Attic Insulation Installation Process

Before the spray foam insulation can be installed, any old traditional insulation like cellulose and fiberglass must be removed.

After the removal is complete, the spray foam contractor will run a hose up to the attic and in most cases spray the roof deck and it seals the envelope of the home. In some cases the floor of the attic is the better option, but in this case the attic must have ventilation.

Spray Foam Insulation Cost

Much like the traditional forms of insulation, the cost to insulate an attic with spray foam varies on the size of the area. The size of the area is the largest contributor to the cost of the attic project. The bigger the space, the more expensive the job will be.

The thickness of foam sprayed is also a factor. The standard amount of foam spray is six inches for open cell.

Choosing the Right Attic Insulation

You have now read through the choices for attic insulation and it is time to decide which material is the best fit for your attic and needs.

If you are considering spray foam insulation for your attic and live in Michigan’s lower peninsula, give us a call at 866-900-3626 for a free estimate, or fill out the form on our website.

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About Amanda Ringler

Amanda previously has worked as a breaking news and crime reporter, TV news producer, and editor in Flint and Detroit. Throughout her career as a journalist, she has won several awards from the Detroit Chapter of Society of Professional Journalists and the Michigan Press Association. As part of the RetroFoam of Michigan family, Amanda uses her experience as a journalist to write content that will help educate homeowners on the benefits of foam insulation. When Amanda isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and rescued huskies. She also loves knitting, making art, cooking, and hosting dinner and a movie night for friends and family.