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How to Insulate an Attic

Insufficient insulation probably may be the prime cause of your exorbitant utility bills. Insulation allows you effectively condition your home to retain sufficient heat or cooling during different seasons, while still providing sufficient light, air circulation, and bringing down electricity consumption. Attic insulation is one of easiest ways to maintain home temperatures. You could do some basic batt insulation all on your own or consult experts, depending on your attic design and type of insulation you plan to install. Let’s try out an insulation exercise which you can do by yourself with the help of a few tips.

Complexity Level: Moderate

Time Required: 6-8 hours

Resources Required:

  1. Insulation batts (made of fiber glass / mineral wool)
  2. A sharp utility knife
  3. Protective clothing
  4. Protective eye wear
  5. Staple Gun
  6. Dust Mask


1. Take precautionary measures

Although, attic insulation may seem simple, it is essential to take sufficient precautions to avoid costly errors that may create an uncomfortable environment.

  • Take care to protect yourself by using safety gear.
  • Ensure that electricity connections in the attic are safe.
  • Make the attic accessible. Arrange for sufficient working space, lighting and pathways.
  • Check for water seepage and air leaks, which are to be addressed before you commence fresh/repair insulation.
  • Also, look out for water vapor barriers that protect existing insulation and ventilators that provide air circulation so that you don’t accidentally block them.
  • Insulation batts are inflammable; keep them away from fire/electrical sources.
  • Once you are through with work, vacuum clean the attic and your work outfit.

2. Decide on the type of Insulation

You could either choose to go for the batt insulation (fibre glass) packed in the form of rolled sheets or loose fill insulation (glass fibre, vermiculose or cellulose, wood shavings). Batt sheets can be cut to size and tucked into the support frames, while loose fill insulation is more suitable for uneven attic space as it fills all nooks and corners very well. Loose fill material can either be directly poured from the bags and raked evenly or can be blown across the surface. A combination of both types of insulation will also prove to be effective.

3. Prepare the insulation

  • Get an insulation batt that has the same width that suits your attic framing, so that it can be fitted without any folding.
  • Clear out some working space on the attic, unpack, roll out and cut the batt to the exact sizes that fit your attic roof/floor/knee or side walls, using an utility knife.
  • Assemble all the required tools required for fitting the insulation. If you are planning a blow-in installation of the loose filler, then get the blower and insulation machine ready for work. A helping hand though is advisable in this case to finish work faster.

4. Fit the insulation

  • Place the cut piece of insulation on the attic frame, with the foiled/paper surface on the outer side and staple the piece to the frame, allowing a 2 inch space between the wall and insulation.
  • You could also intersperse this setting with a vapor barrier between the insulation and the wall.
  • Allow for a 3 inch border around light or electric/metal chimney fixtures that are capable of generating heat.
  • Tuck in pieces of the batt to cover all empty spaces along window/door frames. Take care not to apply much force.

Once you are through, keep your fingers crossed and wait for your next energy bill to gauge the success of this venture.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the best attic insulation type?

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer to this question. Attic insulation type and material to be used vary greatly with the attic design and climatic conditions in your region. Extreme temperature ranges require a higher R-value. The R-value or heat flow resistance factor of the insulation material is what governs the effectiveness of the whole process. Be sure to check with your local power unit/energy commission for the best R value in your region and plan your project accordingly.

Quick Tips:

  1. Use a dust mask, gloves and long-sleeved work outfits to avoid dust allergy and itching.
  2. Note that if your attic walls and roof are insulated, then you need not necessarily insulate the attic floor.
  3. Moisten the attic floor in case you plan to sweep out the waste material. It helps to suppress dust from flying about.

Things To Watch Out For:

  1. Eye protection and a dust mask are a must, since most of the insulation materials are harmful to the eyes and respiratory system.
  2. Keep all insulation material away from heat/flame sources and keep them under cover.
  3. Do not crush or apply force on the insulation, as this is bound to reduce the R-value or insulation capacity of the batt.
  4. It is advised that you contact a professional insulation contractor to remove or help handle vermiculate installations.
  5. Do not insulate over light fixtures that do not have an I.C. (insulated ceiling) rating, as they are likely to cause a fire when covered.

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