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Foam Insulation vs. Radiant Barrier – Which is Best for Your Project?

If you live in an area that experiences different temperature extremes, especially during the summer, you may have received suggestions for different types of insulation. Spray foam insulation and radiant barrier insulation are two materials that are frequently used in warmer climates. While both materials provide effectiveness in controlling indoor temperatures, here are some important ways that spray foam and radiant barrier insulation differ:

  • Foam combats conduction and convection of heat, while radiant barrier combats radiant heat.

Foam insulation is designed to slow down the conduction and convection of heat and is typically installed against the interior or exterior of plywood sheathing. Because radiant barrier works differently, by preventing the radiation of heat, it is ideally installed in an area with an airspace such as an attic or metal roof. Since these two types of insulation work differently, foam insulation often comes with an R-Value measurement, while radiant barrier does not. Radiant barrier’s effectiveness is measured by thermal emissivity, which is around .05 (at least 95% of radiant heat reflected).

  • Foam insulation may assist with sound proofing.

If sound proofing is important in your project, foam insulation might be one of your top choices. Because spray foam insulation creates a thicker barrier, it can help block some noise.

  • Installation requirements differ.

Foam insulation, especially the spray foam variety, usually requires professionals with specialized equipment for a safe and effective installation. Radiant barrier, on the other hand, is much simpler to install and many people even feel comfortable with DIY installation.

  • Radiant barrier is much less expensive.

Radiant barrier insulation tends to be less expensive than spray foam, even with installation expenses are included. Remodeling Expense estimates that the average cost per square foot of radiant barrier insulation is $1.73 – $3.13, while the average cost per square foot of spray foam insulation is $3.95 – $7.20.

  • Radiant barrier can be easily combined with other insulation.

If you already have insulation in your attic or space, it is easy to install radiant barrier alongside existing insulation. As a bonus, the performance of your insulation will dramatically improve. Spray foam insulation does not offer this same level of flexibility.

Have further questions on different types of insulation, or which product is best for you? Give our team a call today at 817-538-5222. We look forward to speaking with you!

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