How to Choose the Best Home Insulation: Placement, Performance, Safety and Sustainability

When looking at home insulation, it’s very important that the material you choose matches the needs of your home. Insulation material performance and satisfaction varies depending on where it is placed, its resistance to heat transfer, its various safety features and its sustainability.

What factors should you consider for home insulation?

Many insulation installers believe the best insulation for your home checks off these four key considerations to get the best result for each homeowner’s needs:

Use and placement
Thermal resistance (R-value)
Health and safety

Use and Placement

The easiest place to start when looking for insulation is knowing where it should go. Do you need insulation in your basement? Your walls? Or your attic space?

Depending on where you are adding insulation, there are different materials available to facilitate installation and to be most effective. There is blown-in insulation, batt form (large pieces) or spray foam. When filling in gaps behind walls or smaller areas in general, spray foam is the best option thanks to its expanding nature. It sprays in small particles that expand to fill every little crevice. It is more costly to hire labor to install spray foam, which is why smaller projects with spray foam insulation are easier to afford. In larger open spaces like attics, blown-in or batt-form fiberglass and blown-in cellulose can be a great option. The installation process is quick and easy, and these materials can cover large spaces most effectively.

Thermal Resistance, R-value

The next step in choosing the right insulation for your home is understanding the needed (and usually required) thermal resistance of an insulation material. The thermal resistance, referred to as the R-value, is how to measure a material’s resistance to heat transfer. In essence, it measures the insulation’s performance and efficacy. Does it work to keep the heat in or not? It’s that simple.

Insulation R-values are determined by climate zones. In Wisconsin, we have higher R-value insulation materials so that the heat does not escape and the cold does not enter. Typical attic insulation in Wisconsin should be between R49 and R60 to ensure functionality in severe winter and summer climates. Make sure your insulation has the appropriate R-value for the area that is getting insulated.

Health and Safety

In addition to knowing the right R-value for your insulation, it’s also important to know the
material’s resistance to humidity, fire, mold and insects. Home insulation is a major protector of those inside the house, though it may not seem like it at first glance.

Tightly packed insulation, or insulation with fire-resistant coating, can truly protect your home
from fire. The same insulation can be humidity-resistant for basements and mold and insect resistant for attic spaces. There are also insulation materials that are allergy and asthma friendly to reduce possible insulation-related respiratory problems. If your home has seniors or younger children, consider getting new modern insulation with all the safety precautions added.


Sustainability might not be at the top of everyone’s insulation checklist, but it is still important to consider while making your decision. Thankfully, the majority of insulation materials are made from recycled materials. They also have very long life spans, if there are no issues from water damage or pest infestation.

An insulation material should help reduce your carbon footprint. Yes, it’s made of recycled materials, but it should also help reduce your monthly heating consumption. Lowering your electricity or gas use is a tremendous help to our planet.

Which material is best for your home insulation?

There are usually many options that can be right for your home and your needs. Insulation materials all perform the same job; it just depends on how well they perform in their given spaces.

Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass insulation can be used in two ways: blown-in or batt form. It is the most popular insulation material because it checks off all the boxes above and is also DIY friendly.

  • Use and placement: It can be used in all home spaces (walls, basements and attics) by blowing in or installing batts.
  • Thermal resistance: It can reach some of the highest thermal resistance values (needed for colder climates).
  • Health and safety: It is one of the most fire, mold and pest resistant materials, as well as asthma and allergy friendly.
  • Sustainability: 40%-60% of its make-up is recycled glass and it has a long lifespan of 80-100 years.

Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation is another popular option because it is one of the more affordable options to purchase and install.

  • Use and placement: It can be used in most home spaces and is best for open attic floors, as it can only be blown-in.
  • Thermal resistance: It can reach some of the highest thermal resistance values (needed for colder climates).
  • Health and safety: It is fire, mold and pest resistant, however; it creates a lot of dust during installation, which makes it less favorable for people with respiratory problems.
  • Sustainability: It is made up of 80% recycled paper and has a long lifespan of 20-30 years.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is growing in popularity. You may recognize its name thanks to the popularity of installation videos where you can watch the foam expand up to approximately 33 times its size to fill in the hard-to-reach insulated areas in a matter of seconds.

  • Use and placement: It is best used in basements and inside walls thanks to its humidity-resistant qualities and material expansion.
  • Thermal resistance: It can provide high levels of thermal resistance by applying several layers as needed.
  • Health and safety: Though it is made-up of two reacting chemicals, spray foam is fire, mold and pest resistant. It is also very asthma and allergy friendly after installation.
  • Sustainability: Spray foam insulation is not sustainable. It is made of man-made chemicals and not recyclable or reusable.

Make an informed decision

There are four main factors to consider when shopping for home insulation. Make sure the material you choose satisfies your insulation performance needs, as well as your health and
safety requirements and sustainability expectations. Each insulation material meets these considerations in different ways.

For the best and most efficient home insulation material choice, consider getting an insulation inspection from a specialist. They will be able to quote the most appropriate and efficient
insulation for your home that meets all the recommended considerations.

Request a Free Estimate

  • Hidden