Thinking of insulating the attic or garage? There are multiple ways to do it, with spray foam and fiberglass representing the best of them. Here is all you need to know about both types of insulation, so you can make an informed decision on what to spend your money on as a homeowner.
Spray foam and fiberglass are two of the best types of insulation we get for our properties nowadays. Gone are the days of using asbestos-ridden materials to insulate. Now, people have the choice between top-quality products, which it took the building trade years to devise.
From the outside, both fiberglass and spray foam are cost-effective, perform the task admirably, and won’t let you down in wintry weather. However, comparing related products is rarely quite so black and white. Let’s discuss each type of insulation individually to find out what the differences might be.
What is Spray Foam?
Spray foam is a type of insulation first invented in 1937. The machine we used to spray it onto the walls, however, was not around until the 60s. Spray foam is made from polyol resin and isocyanate, which combine to make polyurethane. You will have heard of this type of plastic since it is in everything. Since it contains isocyanate, spray foam is toxic to breathe in when first sprayed. Builders advise you to move out for at least 3 days if you are using spray foam. This is one of the key factors to consider when choosing between fiberglass or spray foam insulation.
You can only apply spray foam if you are a professional. It will last for between 80 and 100 years once they apply it, though, which is longer than some parts of your building. Your roof, for example, might only have a 25-year lifespan. Another reason people choose other insulation is the ratio of chemicals. You must mix it correctly to become effective. Similarly, it might not stick to all types of building materials. Without the correct mixing ratio, spray foam can quickly go wrong.
The beauty of spray foam is that you don’t need to remove wall panels to install it. The foam sprays from a small nozzle, usually on the end of a hose, that you can manipulate through small spaces. This means no removing wall panels or ceiling tiles to get to the spaces you need to insulate.
What is Fiberglass?
On the other hand, fiberglass came into being in the 1930s thanks to a Prussian inventor. There are two main ways to use fiberglass insulation. You can use it in the sheets, or batts, that it comes in. You might also break it down into individual fibers for otherwise difficult-to-fill spaces.
Fiberglass is cheap and easy enough to install yourself. However, you must wear a mask to protect yourself from the dust. We make fiberglass in a factory, on a conveyor belt, in a comparable way to how 3D printers create layers. The machinery creates exceptionally fine molten strands of glass, which lay atop one another like blankets.
Fiberglass insulation is better or worse, depending on the thickness.
How to Choose the Best Insulation as a Homeowner?
Let’s break each type of insulation down into bullet points for a clearer view.
Spray Foam Insulation:
- Requires a professional
- Is cost-effective
- Requires less remodeling
- Is less labor-intensive for the homeowner
- Is toxic for three days after spraying
- Will last 80-100 years
On the other hand, here are the key points of fiberglass.
- Is also cost-effective
- You can install it DIY
- Can break down for smaller spaces
- You must wear a mask
- You do not want to breathe in the glass particles
Finally, let’s mention the R-Value. The R-Value is the level of insulation that your chosen substance provides. The thicker the fiberglass blanket, the better the R-Value. For the thinnest fiberglass, the R-Value sits at 11. For the thickest, it sits at 35. Spray foam will always have an R-Value between 13 and 24. If you increase either of these to the maximum thickness of 7 inches, the R-Value rises to between 42 and 84.