Insulation 101

Insulation is a renovation topic that can be a confusing considering  all the technical aspects involved. In this post, I will try to simply this topic to facilitate your decision making on insulation.

Being in a Nordic climate, it’s important that we insulate our homes to protect us from the external climate. I think none of us like the idea of heating our streets vs. our houses. 😉 – for this reason, we need to understand how the building envelop of our home works?

The building envelop primarily consist of Doors & Windows (D&W) and Insulation…In my previous post I shared on D&W…now let’s focus on Insulation.

Similar to D&W, when insulating, we need to meet a minimum technical criteria to protect us from the Nordic climate. This criteria is called the R-Value, as seen in the diagram. The materials that are use to create the protective envelop of our homes have a nominal R-Value associated to them. By making the sum the R-Value of each material it will give the total R-Value of your exterior walls. Being in zone B, I need to be at a minimum R-Value of 20.

Typically, Insulation is divided in the following categories:   Zones for Insulation

  • Blanket or Batt Rolls
  • Concrete Block Insulation
  • Foam Board or Rigid Foam
  • Insulation Concrete Forms (ICS)
  • Loose Fills & Blown
  • Reflective System
  • Rigid Fiber Insulation
  • Spray Foam
  • Structural Insulation Panels

How do you decide which one you should use?

  • Assess what are you keeping (e.g: i will not redo the brick facade of my house).
  • What’s the R-Value of what you’re keeping? (e.g: R-Value of 6)
  • What is your zone minimum requirement? (e.g: my zone is B, I need to be at R-value 20)
  • What’s the difference between what’s staying & the requirement of your zone? (e.g.: I need to add 18 in R-Value)
  • What’s your budget?
  • Based on your budget you can select between the different categories above.

In my next post I’ll share how I made my selection for my house….In the meantime, you can read more on  Insulation zoning reference.


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