how to install a radiant barrier

How to Install a Radiant Barrier – The Complete Guide

Radiant barriers can be a great way to cool down the air temperature in an attic during the summer and maintain a decent temperature in the same area during the winter. They are usually simple to install and can benefit the house and the HVAC system in the attic.

Before anyone decides to go ahead and cover their entire attic in tin foil or insulation, there are a couple of things they should consider. One of the main elements to consider is the benefit of hiring a professional radiant barrier installer to handle the situation. Even if you have a perfectly insulated flat top roof and radiant barrier foil, bringing the energy efficiency of your house to the maximum is super important.

Benefits of Installing a Radiant Barrier

Radiant barriers, like any form of insulation, help to reduce the air temperature within an attic during the summer months. That’s their primary purpose, particularly in parts of the country that get really hot during those parts of the year. A radiant barrier installation can also help maintain air temperatures at a decent rate in the colder months under any roof you may have.

Attics and roofs are usually where HVAC systems will be located in homes. Keeping temperatures within those spots as low as possible will reduce the wear and tear on the air conditioning systems. Some studies show that a properly installed radiant heat barrier can reduce the energy output of an HVAC system by up to 10%. You need to staple the foil as another layer of insulation can help to keep the roof within an acceptable temperature zone.

Since less energy is needed to cool or heat a home, installing a smaller and more efficient HVAC system is possible. Homeowners can fully tell the difference when proper insulation is working on their electric bill.

The other option that homeowners will have is to set up more traditional insulation in their attics. This type of insulation could get the job done but may not be ideal in certain areas that get a lot of heat.

Homemade Solution vs. Professional Installation

Can a person without professional experience install a radiant barrier or insulation effectively? Someone with little experience in the field could, in fact, do this on their roof but one should know the top methods how to install a radiant barrier. The first step towards effectively doing so is using a suitable radiant barrier material.

The main reason why homemade solutions fail is that people just want to use regular foil to cover their attic. When using “insulation” materials that may already be around the house, it could be harder to ensure the barrier is thick enough to provide the desired effect. Installing radiant barrier can help you keep the air space under the roof in the perfect temperature zone.

When professionals are on the job, the first thing the homeowner shouldn’t need to worry about is the insulation materials used in the procedure. Professionals will also better understand how the attic needs to be covered to ensure that the radiant barrier will be effective.

What Goes into the Installation Process

Setting up a radiant barrier is a lot like hanging wallpaper to the top of your attic floor to insulate your roof. The most significant issue people encounter when trying to do this is accessibility to the attic itself. It’s easier a lot of times to be able to set up the barriers in more extensive attics than in smaller crawlspaces.

In attics that feature harder-to-reach places, a big part of the installation process is just figuring out how someone can position themselves to hold down the insulation. Then, someone else can come in and ensure it stays in place and removes the air pockets.

The installation process usually involves large rolls of foil-based material that will go around the attic. In many cases, what’s going to happen is that the rolls need to cover as much of the attic as possible and remain in place with staples.

Just like with wallpaper, the process will go down much quicker if two people are working on the project. One person can hold the foil in place while another staples it into the attic’s frame.

The biggest issue that’s commonly seen in radiant barriers set up by homeowners is that they come apart quicker than they should. That’s usually because the staples were not put in the right place or even the fact that materials used in the procedure were poor quality, to begin with.

How Long Should a Radiant Barrier Last?

Radiant barriers made from quality insulation materials that are properly installed are set to last a lifetime. That could be one of the best reasons for having professionals take care of the installation process. Homeowners do not have to worry about these insulation barriers once they are installed if everything is done right.

Most estimates indicate that well-set-up radiant barriers should last at least 80 years. Professional installation services can provide up to a 20-year warranty on the job. Considering all that, saving a couple of dollars and putting in the effort to get the job done is a hard sell for many people.

Radiant Barriers vs. Traditional Insulation

Radiant barriers are a form of insulation for an attic. It’s fair, then, to wonder what works best to provide this insulation effect. Is installing radiant barriers better than traditional insulation?

radiant barrier installation guide 1

The answer may come down to the type of climate the home or building is in. Most experts agree that radiant barriers are excellent insulation for homes in hotter climates. Traditional insulation may be a better idea for homes in colder areas.

Foam insulation, for example, has also been deemed not the best option for buildings in hotter climates. The material is considered a lot more flammable than some other options available to insulate homes. It’s not that one form of insulation is better than the other; it just depends on what type of climate each one will face.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the type of insulation that works best for a particular crawlspace, it’s worth looking into. Regarding radiant barriers, it may be best to let the professionals take care of the job. The process can be tedious and irritating for people without experience.

Even if the HVAC system that cools the air in the house or commercial building isn’t placed in an attic, insulating an existing attic is still a good idea. The insulation can reduce the temperature in the attic, making it more usable. When these attics are not properly insulated, they often go to waste.

Using quality materials in the insulation process, regardless of whether or not professionals will install them, is a must. As was mentioned previously, radiant barriers are meant to be long-term solutions. Therefore, keeping that worry around doesn’t make sense just to save a couple of dollars on the front end.

Salman Zafar

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