radiant barrier

Radiant Barrier: Is it Right for Your Home?

You live in a warm climate and your cooling costs are outrageous.

Did you know that the sun is the primary source of heat in your attic space?

Did you know that a radiant barrier can keep your attic cooler and reduce your cost to cool the whole house?

Not sure what a radiant barrier is? No problem. Keep reading to learn if a radiant barrier is the right choice for your home.

What is Radiant Barrier Insulation?

A radiant barrier is a type of insulation specifically designed for attics in warm to hot climates. The barrier is made from a highly reflective material.

Types of Radiant Barriers

Radiant barriers come in a few different options. It is always a reflective material, usually aluminum foil, adhered to a backing material for support. This stiffer material may be cardboard, plastic, OSB, or sometimes kraft paper.

You can find reinforced radiant barriers for increased durability. Fiber-reinforced backing is easier to handle during installation.  

Radiant barriers may be installed as part of your attic’s insulation system. 

Perforated vs Non-Perforated Barriers

You can find both perforated and non-perforated radiant barriers.

A non-perforated barrier does not allow water vapor to pass through it. It is a solid piece of reflective material.

Depending on your HVAC system and house ventilation, this may not be good. It can cause dampness in the attic. If moisture from the house cannot find another way out, it can condense in the attic space and damage your home.

A perforated barrier has tiny holes that allow for better airflow. This reduces the risk of condensation forming. 

How Does a Radiant Barrier Work?

Radiant barriers physically reflect the sun’s heat, called radiant heat. By doing this, they don’t allow the attic infrastructure to absorb the heat.  This is the reflectivity of the barrier. 

It keeps the joists and ductwork from getting hotter. Think of it as moving your home from the direct sun into the shade.

They also keep the air in the attic space from heating up. This is the emissivity of the barrier. Essentially, the hot air from the outside is not able to emit heat to the cooler air on the inside.

What are the Benefits of Radiant Barriers?

In a nutshell, radiant barriers reduce heat gain from the sun and reduce cooling costs.

By reducing the amount of heat your home absorbs, you can significantly cut down on cooling costs. If you aren’t running your HVAC system at its max, you will likely also save money in the long-run. You will reduce maintenance and repair costs for the system.

The hotter it gets, the better your radiant barrier will work. This means that in the worst part of the hot months, you will reduce your cooling costs the most. 

A radiant barrier allows your attic space to be converted into a living space. You can keep the attic a comfortable temperature all year long. 

You can finally convert that unused space into your dream home office or guest room!

Radiant barriers may also help you qualify for Energy Star certifications for your home. This helps with resale value. 

How is Radiant Barrier Installed?

A professional should install the radiant barrier.  

It is generally installed during construction of a new home. However, if you are re-roofing your home, or you have an unfinished attic with open rafters, you can retrofit the attic with radiant barrier.

The foil is draped between roof rafters. This can be accomplished before the roof goes on, or by stapling the material to the bottom of the rafters after-the-fact. 

It’s important to allow the material to droop between the rafters. There should be about 1″ of air space between the radiant barrier and the bottom of the roof. 

Things to Watch Out For During Installation

A radiant barrier’s effectiveness depends on proper installation. Using a certified installer is your best bet because there are some precautions to be taken during installation. 

Aluminum foil conducts electricity. The installer needs to make sure that the foil does not contact bare wiring or other sources of electricity. 

The barrier should not be installed on top of the attic floor insulation. Foil on the floor will accumulate dust. It may also trap moisture in the thermal insulation. Both reduce the effectiveness of the radiant barrier and can cause other expensive damage to your home. 

The radiant barrier requires the right spacing to function properly. If the foil is pulled tight between rafters, or is sandwiched between pieces of insulation, the foil will become a conductor of heat. 

The air space is what makes the foil work as a radiant barrier. No air space means that the barrier will actually be working against your insulation system. It will reduce your thermal insulation’s effectiveness. 

Is a Radiant Barrier Worth the Cost?

The value of a radiant barrier in your home depends on your climate and current insulation system. You benefit the most when:

Your Attic is Poorly Insulated

If your attic is already very well insulated, you won’t notice the difference of the radiant barrier.

The older your home, or the worse the condition of your current insulation, the more difference you will see. It may be more cost effective to upgrade your insulation with radiant barrier than remove and replace all of your insulation. 

Your Roof Gets Direct Sunlight

A radiant barrier reduces the heat gained from the sun. If your home is in the shade consistently, the radiant barrier won’t be as effective. 

A south-facing roof will see the most benefit from the installation of a radiant barrier. 

Outbuildings with metal roofs would also see a huge difference in radiant heat absorption. If you have a garage, barn, shed, or other outdoor workspaces, you can cut the summer swelter by adding a radiant barrier. 

There is Ductwork in Your Attic

Most older homes have ductwork that runs through the attic. A poorly insulated attic means that the hot ducts warm the air as it passes through the attic into your living spaces.

This makes your air conditioning system less effective. 

Adding a radiant barrier to your attic will reduce the heat absorbed by the ductwork. It reduces the load on your HVAC and A/C systems. 

Installing a radiant barrier is cheaper and easier than insulating the entire ductwork system. 

Get Ready to Cut Your Cooling Costs

Living in a warm climate should not mean you have to break the bank to keep your home cool. 

A radiant barrier may be the perfect solution to keeping your home and wallet more comfortable in the heat. 

Think that a radiant barrier is the right move for your home? Contact us today for a free estimate. 

attic space into living space

Converting Attic Space Into Living Space: How It’s Done

The average national cost for attic renovations is $49,438

Considering how much space you will gain with a finished attic, this cost could be very worthwhile.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about converting an attic space into living space.

Ensure Your Attic Meets Building Codes

Before you begin to think about attic storage ideas and what your finished attic will look like, you need to deal with building codes.

Check with your with your local municipality about the building code in your area.

A building inspector can come to inspect your attic to see if it meets the codes. He or she will give you a list of the necessary codes that need to be met. 

Your attic room might not currently meet the code requirements, yet. If so you must factor in the necessary changes during your renovations.

There are three main aspects to attics building codes.

Ceiling

In order to turn your attic space into living space, the ceilings must be 7 feet from the floor.  

If your attic isn’t 7 feet, you could lower the floor or raise the attic height. You’ll need a skilled contractor for either project.

Egress

If you plan to turn your attic space into a bedroom, you’ll have to have at least two exits. One can be the staircase to the lower floor. Another exit could be a window.

Ideally, you’ll have an in-wall escape ladder tucked behind a cabinet door, just in case you need to use this exit. 

Joist

The attic floor joists need to meet certain codes to be able to support the weight of your renovated living space.

Extra weight comes in the form of plumbing, drywall, and lighting. 

Once you’ve dealt with building codes, you can turn your attention to light in your attic.

Think About Natural Light

One of the tricky things about converting attic space into living space is natural light. 

Typically, attics don’t have many windows. Adding dormers can be pricey and will eat up wall space.

A better option is to install skylights.

These allow both fresh air and a flood of natural light into the space. Plus, installation is simpler this way.

Skylights look stunning on slanted ceilings! You can even get solar-powered shades that you can control with a remote to keep the temperature perfect in the attic.

Opt for Spray Foam Insulation

If you are creating an attic bedroom, you’ll have to think about insulation.

The attic is often the hottest room in during the hot months. It can get icy cold in the winter. The quality of insulation in the attic affects how comfortable the finished attic is. 

Traditional insulation is fiberglass batt insulation. You might recognize it as the pink fluffy stuff that you’ve seen sticking out of walls in basements.

But, to make an attic room that is comfortable in every season, you want the best insulation you can. That way you won’t spend tons of money and energy heating and cooling the finished attic.

Though it’s more expensive, foam insulation forms a tight air barrier in every tiny crevice. Plus, rodents and insects can’t chomp through the stuff which is a bonus.

And since it takes up less space, you will have more room overhead this way.

Do You Need a New HVAC Zone?

If you are planning to convert your attic into an attic bedroom, you might want to make sure the temperature is right in the space.

You can have an HVAC professional create a new zone for your finished attic. Then it would get its own thermostat so that the attic rooms are heated and cooled properly. 

You really want to do this step now before you’ve finished the space. It will be much more work and money down the line.  

Think About Soundproofing

What room of the house will be directly under the finished attic space? If it’s a bedroom, you will want to seriously consider soundproofing the attic flooring.

Even walking around on the attic flooring can sound extremely loud in the room below.

Thicker floor joists and dense-pack insulation that is blown in over the bays will help a lot. A good carpet with a thick underpad will also help minimize the noise.

Get Creative with Storage in the Finished Attic 

Likely, you’ve been using your unfinished attic as a storage space. But once that space is an attic bedroom, you’ll have to reconsider where to put things.

Your attic probably has some awkward angles and nooks that run along pine chases or chimneys. Use these spots to your advantage as storage solutions.

There are tons of awesome attic renovation ideas to inspire you online.

For example, low walls are a great spot for DIY open shelves.

You can also put in some recessed cubbies or a recessed chest of drawers. 

Adding a Bathroom 

Adding a bathroom to your finished attic is a genius idea if you can swing it.

You can expect a 60% return on your investment if you sell the house down the road.

If you have pipes in the attic already, putting in a bathroom up there won’t be too difficult. If the plumbing isn’t already in place you may want to go with up-flush plumbing.

This type of plumbing lets you put a shower, toilets, and sinks in places without a nearby drain. 

Final Thoughts on Turning Your Attic Space Into Living Space

Renovating an unused attic into a finished attic is a smart way to add more living space to your home.

You can use the finished attic as a bedroom, lounge area, den or playroom. Then, if you ever decide to list your property, your house will be able to sell for so much extra because of the additional living space.

At Attic Solutions, we can sanitize, remove and replace your old insulation. Request a free estimate today.