A Guide to Insulation and R-Value For an Ann Arbor Home Addition

Insulation For a Home Addition or Remodel in Ann Arbor

A Comparison of Insulation For a Home Addition or Remodel in Ann Arbor

Here in Ann Arbor, properly insulating your home is a smart choice. Even if you choose to use the most expensive materials available, over time, you will recoup your costs through permanently lower utility bills.

Generally speaking, there are several options when choosing an insulating material. Which you use depends on several factors including the climate where you live, the current R-value of your home and of course, your budget. The team at Forward Design Build will discuss insulation options during the design phase of your Ann Arbor home addition or remodel.

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This article will help you understand the types of home insulation available and the R-values of each. Let's look at the various materials available, how to use them, and the approximate costs involved.

Just a quick note about R-Value:

An insulation material's resistance to conductive heat flow is measured as an R-Value. It is a measurement based on each inch of thickness. For example, on average blown-foam carries an R-value of 3.6, cellulose is R-3.7 and fiberglass averages R-2.5 per inch. The R-value of different types of insulation can be affected by improper installation and can vary slightly depending on the material used and the brand of insulation.

Home Insulation - It's not all“cotton candy” anymore

In the past several years, insulating materials have evolved. Just a short time ago, your only choice was those “cotton candy” pink rolls of fiberglass. While fiberglass batts are still the industry standard, it's no longer your only option. Today, there are healthier, more environmentally friendly, and more efficient choices available. Here's a breakdown of the four top insulating materials.

Learn more about insulation and cost savings at Energy.gov

Fiberglass Batt Insulation

Fiberglass batts are one of the most inexpensive choices for insulating your home. This is most cost effective if the walls are already open, like in a new addition or attic. The most important factor when using fiberglass batts is correct installation. One corner tear can reduce the R-value.

Fiberglass batt insulation varies in thickness and color but are a standard width designed to fit between the studs in the walls and ceilings. It's an ideal material if you're on a tight budget and you're looking to work quickly. When properly installed fiberglass can improve energy efficiency by 25 to 30 percent.

Nationally, the average cost of fiberglass batt insulation is between $.64 - $1.19 per square foot.*

Cotton Batt Insulation

Unlike fiberglass, cotton batts are soft and natural. They're often made from recycled blue jeans, which makes them more eco-friendly than fiberglass.  And because it's made from a material that would normally end up in the landfill, it's easier on the environment. It's just as easy to install as fiberglass batts, just as effective at insulating your home and offers the added benefit of better soundproofing.

Nationally, cotton batt insulation costs on average about 20% more than fiberglass.*

Blown–in insulation

It's usually made from recycled newspapers and cardboard, often called “white cellulose.” Its treated with borate to repel insects, mold, and fire. Cellulose works great, is the most eco-friendly material available and has a higher than average R-value depending on the depth blown.

When packed tightly into place, blown fire-proof cellulose insulates well. It's easily blown into hard to reach places upping the R-value. Because it's treated with borate, it's moisture resistant which eliminates mold and keeps insects and other vermin at bay.

Blown-in insulation is relatively inexpensive. Professional installation will average between $1.00 and $1.50 per square foot. ($1500 - $2000 for the average 1500 Sq. Ft. home).*

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam seals leaks and gaps inside existing walls and is the perfect solution if you're looking for an inexpensive way to solve a larger problem while improving your home's R-value. Spray foam comes in two varieties, open cell, and the denser, closed cell. Which you use depends on the particulars of the job and of course your budget.

Closed cell spray foam has the highest R-value of any material, up to R6 per inch. It also takes up much less space than fiberglass or blown-in insulation. When properly installed, spray foam can immediately save you up to $500 a year in energy costs.

Nationally, open cell spray foam costs around $.35 - $.55 cents per board foot. Closed cell spray foam is approximate $1.00 to $2.00 per board foot.*

All of these materials offer close to the same effectiveness. The key factor is a proper installation. Which material you choose is also dependent upon the needs of the job. For example, if you're adding an addition and the walls are open, fiberglass is quick, easy and inexpensive. If you're insulating existing walls, blown in foam might be a better choice. It can be installed by drilling a small hole in the wall and pumping the material into space.

The best solution is to discuss the benefits and costs of each material with your Forward Design Build team. Your designer can help you to assess your home's current R-value to help you determine the best solution for your needs and budget. 

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Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.