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Blog Jul 16, 2020

How to Install Radiant Barrier Insulation

Home Improvement

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Do you find that your utility bill skyrockets in the warmer and cooler months, and no matter the energy saving habits you implement, you still can’t get your energy costs down? It might be time to look into installing a radiant barrier in your attic, siding, and/or roof to reduce the heat transfer in your home. The effectiveness of a radiant barrier on reducing your home’s heating and cooling costs is completely dependent on how properly it is installed, so it is highly recommended to hire a certified installer. However, if you are a DIY-believer and want to take on the challenge of doing the radiant barrier installation yourself, make sure you carefully study and follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions and instructions, as well as check your local building and fire codes. It’s easiest to install a radiant barrier in a new home, but you can still install them in an existing home that has an open attic space. Learn more about installing a radiant barrier in your attic, siding and roof below.

How to Install a Radiant Barrier in Your Attic, Siding and Roof

Before learning how to install radiant barriers in your home, it is important to understand how a radiant barrier works. One of the main ways that heat travels from a warm area to a cool area is through radiation. Radiant heat travels in a straight line away from any surface and heats anything solid that absorbs its energy. A radiant barrier, when its reflective surface is facing an air space, is quite effective in reducing the radiant heat transfer from the underside of the roof to cooler attic surfaces, such as the attic floor and air ducts. A radiant barrier is most effective when there is minimal dust accumulation on the reflective surface, if it is perpendicular to the radiant energy striking it, and in warmer climates. Read below to learn about to install a radiant barrier in your attic, siding and roof to help reduce heat gain in your home.

Attic Radiant Barrier Installation

Most heat enters and leaves the home through the attic and roof, so installing a radiant barrier in the attic can dramatically impact your homes heating and cooling expenses and comfortability. While there are two main ways to install radiant barriers in the attic, deciding which method is best to use will be dependent on the goal you wish to achieve through insulation. If you are looking to reduce your summer cooling expenses, it is best to staple foil to the bottom of the roof rafters. On the other hand, if you are aiming to increase your winter heat retention, it is best to lay the foil over the existing attic ceiling insulation.

Siding Radiant Barrier Installation

Radiant barriers can be very effective at lowering radiant heat transfer when installed in exterior siding applications, but will only work if there is an air space on at least one side of the radiant barrier. When applying to the siding of a home, you must attach 1 x 2 furring strips over the top of the radiant barrier, which will attach to the siding, similar to a house wrap. Adding these furring strips will create the air space needed for the effectiveness of the radiant barrier.

Roofing Radiant Barrier Installation

Radiant barriers can also be very effective at blocking radiant heat when installed with the roofing of a house. Similar to when you install radiant barriers on siding material, you must have an air space of at least 3/4″ on either side of the radiant barrier when doing a roofing installation. Roofing systems that utilize purlins or batten/counter battens easily allow for this required air space, though metal, tile and slate roofing systems can still easily incorporate radiant barriers. In a new house, a rolled-foil radiant barrier is typically draped foil-face down between the roof rafters before installing the roof sheathing to minimize dust accumulation on the reflective faces, though double-faced radiant barriers are available. Additionally, this installation can be done after the roof sheathing goes on from inside the attic by stapling the radiant barrier to the bottom of the roof rafters.

Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home with a Radiant Barrier Today!

If you choose to take on this insulation project yourself, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you begin. For instance, it is incredibly important to know that reflective foil conducts electricity, so avoid making contact with any bare electrical wiring, and it is strongly recommended that you do not apply a radiant barrier directly on top of the attic floor insulation as it will be susceptible to dust accumulation and may trap moisture in fiber insulation. Also, you should start installing a radiant barrier early in the morning when your attic is the coolest, be cautious of any unstable attic floor joists you walk on, and spread larger jobs across several days to take advantage of the cooler hours of the day. Improve the energy efficiency of your home and save money on your energy costs by installing a radiant barrier in your attic space, siding, and/or roof today!

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