Does Attic Insulation Go on the Ceiling or Floor?

Ever go look at a home to purchase here in Charlotte, NC, and wonder why certain homes have attic insulation only on the floor, while others only have the entire ceiling covered? Are certain homes installed incorrectly? Attic insulation is an essential component of maximizing the efficiency of your home and reducing your average electric bill. The best attic insulation to use – both type and location – depends on the geographic location of your home and your own personal preferences, among other things. Here we will discuss the purpose of attic insulation, its function, as well the recommendations we have to set up the best attic insulation. Our specialists would be more than happy to come to your home and create a customized solution for your home. Our team of experts will be able to determine the best attic insulation system fit for your space. 

Attic Insulation: How Does It Work?

Attic insulation exists to serve as a barrier between the outside air and the inside of your home. During the summer, hot air attempts to sneak into your home, while during the winter time, warm air moves outward. Insulation exists to stop that transfer; to protect the home from extreme temperature changes. However, not all insulation types are created equal. Each serves specific purposes and some are better suited for specific homes and environments. Our team of experts will be able to sit and discuss with you their recommendations as to what would be the best fit. Attic insulation provides a series of benefits including: 

  • More efficient A/C and heater 
  • Reduced average electricity bills 
  • Minimize drafts 
  • Cooler home during summer months
  • Warmer home during winter months 
  • Maintain steady temperatures in every room of the home
  • Limit hot spots 

Attic Insulation: The Floor vs. The Ceiling

Now that we understand the basic purpose that attic insulation serves in your home, let’s discuss its location. The best attic insulation for the job depends on the type of home in which it is installed. The R-value of the attic insulation varies by geographic location and space in the home. Some areas require thicker insulation, while others require less. Certain homes would benefit more from attic insulation on the floor, while others require the ceiling. Let’s discuss each of their specific benefits. 

The main purpose of attic insulation on the floor is to keep the area warm and restrict how much heat is lost into the space below.

The main purpose of attic insulation in the ceiling is to keep any air that enters the attic space cooler and keep the air in the existing space warmer. 

Attic Floor

Attic insulation that is installed on the floor serves to reduce the speed at which heat from inside your home escapes to your attic. If you do not use your attic, we’d recommend having attic insulation installed on the floor. It is a simple and cheap solution to ensure that your average electric bill remains low, while also not causing significant heat and cold fluctuations. You can use blown-in insulation or simply insulation boards. Typically, the floors use either fiberglass or foam board attic insulation. These will be installed either between the floor joists of the attic or over the existing floor entirely. Our experts will be able to walk you through the different materials and the benefits of each. If you wish to use the attic for storage, you can request a type of attic insulation that will allow you to lay items on top of it. Insulation boards, such as SmartPly boards, would be a fantastic option for you. Attic insulation will act as a barrier from heat from floors below entering the space. Once in the space, the attic insulation on the floor will keep the heat generated within the room, minimizing any unnecessary energy loss

Floor insulation is best for older buildings, as it has a lower R-value and is very economical. They are typically cheaper, however, they have a lower R-value and thus require more attic insulation to achieve the desired R-value. The installation process is also generally easier than installing attic insulation on the ceiling. If the roof is flat, we’d recommend insulating the floor, as they are easier to insulate and do not require the entire surface area to be covered. 

Attic Ceiling

We would recommend attic insulation be installed in the ceiling if your attic is one that is used quite frequently or will eventually be converted in the future. It will be necessary to insulate the inner surfaces of the pitched roof. To ensure the longevity of your insulation, it may be necessary to install an inner roof lining to prevent any water, snow, or dust from entering the space. These can destroy insulation, as moisture is not a friend of attic insulation. Our specialists will be able to determine whether this would be a necessary step for you and if so, the proper sizing and thickness of the attic insulation. 

Attic insulation in the ceiling will slow any heat entering the room and maintain a stable temperature in the attic. However, if you choose to only insulate the ceiling, you will still have heat escaping into the attic. Radiant barriers are an excellent addition to your attic insulation, maximizing its functioning potential. Radiant barriers reflect and reduce radiant energy emittance by ninety-seven percent! 

Ceiling insulation is more often installed in new buildings, as it has a higher R-value and is, therefore, able to control the temperature more consistently. They are generally more expensive, as the R-value is greater, however, they offer a more successful solution to maintain a constant temperature in the space. If the roof is sloped, we’d recommend insulating the ceiling, as roofs are more difficult to insulate and this method will ensure the home is best protected and working at maximum efficiency. 

So Which Should I Insulate? 

Now that you understand the benefits of attic insulation on the floors and ceilings, what should you do? Insulate one and not the other? And if so, which? We would highly recommend installing attic insulation in both your attic walls and floors. This will maximize the efficiency of your space, reducing your average electric bills immediately, and ensuring that the air in your home is safe and mildew-free. The best setup we’d recommend is to install insulation on the attic floor and install radiant barriers on the ceiling. 

Radiant barriers are a special, reflective material that together with the attic insulation on the floor, will provide you with the greatest control of temperature of not only your attic but your entire home. The radiant barriers are installed in between the wall joists and rafters in the attic. They act as a barricade against energy emittance, significantly reducing the transfer of heat and cold air throughout your walls. This would be a very great step in minimizing your average electric bills, ensuring safety and longevity, and maintaining a constant temperature in your home.

The great benefit of installing attic insulation on the floors and ceilings is ensuring that the heat that is generated on the floors of your home does not escape and get wasted through the attic into other rooms of your home. In the summer, this will also ensure that the attic is a buffer between the roof emanating very hot heat waves and the other rooms in your home. This is a two-way street, and together, the attic and ceiling insulation is the best attic insulation solution we can offer.  

So What’s the Plan?

Now that you have some more information in regard to attic insulation on the floors and ceiling of your space, you will be able to make an informed decision about the best attic insulation for your home. Our experts would be more than happy to walk you through the options available and discuss the best location for your space. We’re here to help ensure the longevity and efficiency of your home. This type of work is a long-term investment, lasting upwards of 25 years. You will see benefits immediately, as your average electric bill will drop significantly and quickly after the attic insulation is installed. Ceiling and floor attic insulation are excellent additions to your home to ensure that the air circulating your home is safe and efficient. Give us a call today to help!

Good Home Insulation

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