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How To Install Insulation- Learn About Batting Insulation Lingo

By Edited Mar 18, 2014 0 0

If you're wondering how to install insulation in your home, you have definitely come to the right place. After you take the time to choose the right insulation for your home, it's time to install it. Installing insulation requires a bit of knowledge as there are building codes that govern insulation and where it gets installed. As mentioned earlier, you will also need to know what type of insulation to use. Keep in mind though, that while most building codes across the US are similar they do vary slightly from state to state. It is a good idea to check your local building codes for exact requirements. Your county Planning and Zoning office will know the building codes and can guide you through any building permits that may be necessary.

Before you begin installing your insulation, I'm going to give you a quick crash course in insulation terminology, most typical types of insulation, the different sizes and R-values of fiber-glass insulation. You can thank me for this valuable information regarding insulation lingo later.

R-value is the resistance to heat value that is placed on the product.

Faced refers to the kraft tar paper attached to one side of the insulation.

Unfaced refers to insulation that has no kraft tar paper.

Bay is the space in between the studs where the insulation is to be installed.

Studs are the vertical wooden beams inside your walls.

Poly is the plastic sheeting used as a vapor barrier.

Vapor barrier is a material that retards the accumulation of moisture caused by the change in temperatures between your conditioned house and the unconditioned outside air.


Now, for some of the most common insulation materials available:

R-11 unfaced- used for sound walls between shared walls such as apartments.

R-13 Faced- Used for exterior facing walls with 2X4 studs.

R-19 Unfaced- Used for exterior facing walls with 2X6 studs and poly for a vapor barrier.

R-21 Faced- Used for exterior facing walls with 2X6 studs.

R-30 Unfaced- Used for basement ceilings, garage ceilings and overhangs with poly for a vapor barrier.

R-38 Faced- Used for Attics.


Fiber-glass insulation comes in three main types:

Rolls- Least expensive but a lot of handling and cutting involved.

Batts- Most common and come in pre-cut 8' lengths and either 15” wide or 23” wide.

Blankets- Used for basements or other concrete walls with no studs.


Now that you have a basic understanding of some of the insulation products and terms you can now begin to learn how to install insulation. The first thing you need to know about fiber-glass insulation is it is ITCHY! It is recommended to install insulation while wearing long pants and long sleeves to help protect your skin from the irritation caused by the fiber-glass. Some people are allergic to fiber glass, and for these people, there is really no other option than to hire a professional insulation installer to install your fiber glass.

Anyway, assuming that you are not allergic to fiber glass, I strongly recommend wearing a face mask to protect you from breathing in the fibers. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can go a long way in preventing injury or irritation to your skin. A painters mask will probably be sufficient to provide you with respiratory protection. To protect your skin from the irritation, try rubbing some baby powder on your skin. Baby powder helps to temporarily clog your pores so that they cannot be penetrated by the tiny glass particles. It also helps any fiber glass to be brushed off of your skin easily.

Remember to only insulate your exterior walls or walls that separate you and another home such as in a condo, town home or apartment.

You can buy insulation online or from your local hardware store or home improvement warehouse that sells insulation materials. When you purchase your insulation from a home improvement store or hardware store it will come in giant plastic wrapped bags. These are called tubes and are shrink wrapped for easy transportation. When you cut a bag open, insulation will spring out, so be careful!

Installing insulation is actually quite easy but there are a few considerations to take into account.

  • Fluff It, Don't Stuff It! Insulation is designed to be fluffy and completely fill up your wall cavities. Do not squeeze in higher R-value insulation than your walls call for as it is a waste of money and completely unnecessary.
  • Shadows are cold dark places. Make sure that your insulation completely touches all corners and sides of each stud as well as the top an bottom of the bay. These hollow “shadows” create air channels that transfer air which results in heat loss.
  • Behind the back. Make sure to peel half of the batt back in order to go behind and in front of pipes and electrical lines. Peel and place half the batt behind outlets and switches and cut the front half out to fit the box.
  • Stuff the cracks. Using a flat tool similar to a butter knife, make sure that you stuff insulation into cracks along windows, doors, corners or smaller gaps between two studs. This is the only exception to the "fluff it, don't stuff it" rule.

If you are using faced insulation the brown kraft paper has a staple lip on either side. You can either staple it to the face of the stud or staple it inside the stud. A tacker or staple hammer is a good tool to have. An electric stapler is also a convenient tool to staple up a lot of insulation. If you are using unfaced insulation you can poly the walls using the same stapling tools. Starting from the top of your wall, staple the poly all the way across the header to the next corner and then down the side to the floor. Then, go back to the first side and pull the poly tight to the bottom corner and staple the rest of the poly. Make sure to staple the poly along the sill plate and around switches and outlets.

Those were the basic instructions for easy insulation installation. This is basically all there is to it. Installing your own insulation can save you a lot of money in labor costs along with the added benefit of accomplishment of helping to improve your home while helping to reduce your energy costs.

If you found these insulation installation tips helpful, you might want to read my article on blown-in insulation for walls and attics and foam insulation. It's a great supplement to read.

Now go out and hit a home run- you are up to "Batt"!

Bat Insulation

Batting insulation is installed quickly.


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