Roof Insulation Basics: Upgrading Roof Insulation – DIY Tips

There are two reasons homeowners want to make their homes greener; some people want to go green to protect the environment.  Others will go green because it results in more green dollar bills in their wallet.

Fortunately, the two don’t have to be exclusive; you can protect the environment and save money at the same time.  A big way to do so is to make sure that you have adequate insulation and ventilation for your roof and the attic space.

Heat rises, and that means the majority of the heat loss from your home goes out the top of the house.  This is especially true if you don’t have adequate insulation.  To make sure your home is as comfortable as possible, to ensure minimal heat loss, to save money on your heating bills, and to help protect the environment, an upgrade in your insulation is in order.

A Wide Variety of Insulation Options

Making the decision to improve your roofing insulation is the easy part.  The hard part, however, is determining what type of insulation to use, and where to put it.

Attic Insulation

The easiest (unless you’re having a new roof put on the house), and most effective, way to boost the insulation in your home is to insulate the attic.  Many homes have at least some access to this space, and because of the size attics can hold quite a bit of insulation.  But where you put the insulation, and what type, can vary even inside the space.

Between the Joists – If you have an unfinished attic space, the most common area to insulate is between the ceiling joists, but leaving the area between rafters uninsulated.  This provides for maximum air flow through the attic while keeping the living space insulated.

Most commonly the spaces between the joists are filled with blow-in fiberglass insulation.  However, the do-it-yourselfer may want to lay down fiberglass batting as it’s easier to work with and there is no special equipment needed.  How much should you have?  It’s recommended that the R value be at least R-38; or 10-14 inches of insulation.

Between the Rafters – Many homes have increased their living space by finishing the attic.  But without insulating the ceiling, the space would be largely uninhabitable most of the year.  If this is the case, then you want to insulate between the rafters.

Before you slap up insulation, however, you have to remember that the house needs room to “breathe.”  If your insulation is pressed tightly against the bottom of the roof decking, there’s nowhere for the air to go, and you can end up with major problems.  To counter these problems, baffles are installed to keep a small space between the insulation and the roof deck.  As the air in the baffles heats up, it can flow to the peak and out the roof vent.

Roof Decking Insulation

If you have already finished off your attic space, and you need to add some insulation, you still have options!  When you’re having your roof replaced, insulation can be added underneath.

Roof decking insulation is a common method of providing yet another insulating barrier between the metal on top, and the attic space below.

The idea here is after you have your high quality metal roof installed, you will want to prevent the space underneath from heating up.  So before the metal is put on, the roof is built up adding an extra inch or two of polystyrene (that’s generic for Styrofoam) on top of the roof decking, and then another roof decking is placed over the top of it.  The result is extra insulation that prevents even more heat (or cold in the winter) from making its way into your home.

If you’re having your roof replaced, adding insulation on top of the existing roof deck is the easiest way to boost the R-Value of your home, save some money, and create a more comfortable living space.

Go Green, Save Green

If you live in an old house, you know how drafty it can get in the winter.  Perhaps it’s time to have an energy audit completed and see how much of the heat is escaping through the roof.  It may be time to upgrade the insulation in your home.