Choosing the Right Garage Insulation

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When it comes to maximizing the efficiency of your home, garage insulation is one of the most important features. It helps keep the rest of your home warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer and safe from potentially harmful gases all while keeping your energy bills low. It can also help by acting as a barrier between you and unwanted street noise.

However, deciding which insulation material to use can prove to be a project in itself. Ultimately, the type of garage insulation you choose will depend largely on your budget, as well as whether or not you decide to take it on as a DIY project or hire a contractor.

Here are a few garage insulation recommendations to help you decide on an insulation material to use in your garage.

There are three main types of insulation material best suited for your garage:

  • Batts & Blankets
  • Loose-Fill
  • Spray Foam

Before diving into each of the options, let’s discuss some of the basics.

What is R-value and why does it matter?

R-value is a measure of thermal resistance for materials such as insulation. The higher the R-value, the better the thermal performance and heat retention of the material. That said, increasing the thickness of an insulating layer increases thermal resistance. For instance, doubling the thickness of fiberglass batting will double its R-value.

Batts & Blankets: Fiberglass vs. Rockwool

This cotton candy like insulation is the most common type of insulation material available in large home improvement stores. It comes in convenient rolls of varying widths and thicknesses, making it one of the top choices for do-it-yourself projects.

The main difference between batts and blankets is that batts are pre-cut to fit between common stud cavities, whereas blankets are long pieces that must be cut by hand.

Fiberglass Batts & Blankets

Cost: 30 cents per sq. ft.

R-value: 3.0 – 4.0 per inch

Pros: One of the least expensive insulation materials available. Some versions even include stapling flanges for easy installation.

Cons: Blankets must be cut by hand to fit spaces. Can be incredibly itchy if it comes in contact with your skin, requiring the use of protective clothing. Compresses easily, causing its R-value to decrease.

Rockwool Batts & Blankets

Cost: 60 cents per sq. ft.

R-value: 4.0 – 5.0 per inch

Pros: Doesn’t itch and is more fire-resistant than fiberglass. Also doesn’t require the use of staples as the material simply springs into shape against studs.

Cons: Often harder to find and is double the cost of fiberglass.

Loose-Fill Cellulose

This is sold in compressed blocks which are broken down into fluffy strands of fiber by a special machine called an insulation blower. These small particles spread evenly throughout the space wrapping around all obstacles including outlets, wires, and pipes.

Cost: 31 cents per cubic foot.

R-value: 3.2 – 3.8 per inch

Pros: Can conform to any space without disturbing structures or finishes, making it the perfect choice for difficult to reach locations.

Cons: Can settle nearly 20 percent over time, reducing its overall effectiveness.

Spray Foam: Open Cell vs. Closed Cell

Spray foam insulation comes in two types: closed-cell and open-cell. Both are typically made with polyurethane and use a combination of chemicals which are heated and sprayed out of a machine through a hose. Within seconds, the paint-like goo begins to expand. As the foam expands, it seals gaps and cracks, creating an airtight seal. Once dry, the excess material is cut away, leaving a flat, even surface.

Open-Cell Spray Foam

Cost: $1 to $1.20 per sq. ft.

R-value: 3.5 – 3.7 per inch

Pros: Forms an air barrier which can eliminate other weatherizing tasks such as caulking.

Cons: Allows water vapor to pass through, so depending on the situation, you may be required to fork over some extra cash for a garage moisture barrier.

Closed-Cell Spray Foam

Cost: $1.75 to $3 per sq. ft.

R-value: 6.0 to 6.5 per inch

Pros: Can have twice the R-value of other insulation materials. Prevents the movement of air and will not absorb moisture.

Cons: Very expensive and requires professional installation.

Once you install insulation, it’s important to keep up with regular garage and insulation maintenance. Periodically examine around windows, electrical outlets, and garage doors for any air leaks that may need to be addressed. For more helpful garage insulation tips, contact Larry Myers Garage Doors to speak with a specialist.