An Overview of Insulation Requirements in Florida
The location in the house classifies residential requirements for insulation. Framed wall insulation must satisfy or exceed R-13. For block walls, interior padding must fit or exceed R-7.8, and exterior insulation must be R-6. Ceiling insulation must be much higher at R-30, and a raised floor must be at least R-13.
Insulating power, or R-Value, is only one factor to acknowledge when building or improving a home to keep it comfortable. Various materials respond to weather conditions differently. For instance, traditional batting insulation will lose some insulation ability in high winds, making air-tight seals critical when using this insulation type.
Because a specific type of insulation responds to building and weather conditions differently, there’s more to consider beyond mandated insulation specifications if your goal is a comfortable home. Here’s a look at the various types of insulation, along with a few considerations for all.
Made from foil-covered paper, cardboard, or plastic, a philosophic system is an excellent choice for unfinished walls, ceilings, and floors. It is most efficient at preventing downward heat flow–or restricting heat from entering a structure–making it most beneficial in warmer climates. A reflective insulation system is not as effective at holding warm air and does not provide protection from air leaks, so it may not be suitable for colder weather.
This type of insulation is suggested for floors, unfinished walls, ceilings, and unvented, low-slope, made from polystyrene, polyisocyanurate polyurethane roofs. It gives excellent insulation with relatively low thickness. Rigid foam is easy to cut to size and applies to large architectural areas such as ceilings and walls, but it can be very challenging to fit around obstacles and into tight spaces. It must also be used in conjunction with building-code approved material for fire safety when used on interior spaces. For exterior areas, it must be covered with a weatherproof facing.
This is the kind of insulation that most people are accustomed to. It is usually made from fiberglass but can also be made with mineral wool, natural fibers, and plastic fibers. It’s recommended for use in framed walls, floors, and ceilings because it’s easily laid between studs, beams, and joists. When choosing this type, safety precautions must be taken as the tiny fibers can be hazardous–particularly if inhaled. It also does not grant an air-tight seal, so additional measures are required to prevent air leaks.
Fiberglass, Cellulose, and mineral wool are common materials used for loose-fill and blown-in insulation. It is an excellent choice for adding insulation to an existing residence because it can be applied without completely removing existing walls and into other hard-to-reach places. Loose-fill requires specific machinery, so this is not a DIY project for most homeowners. Cellulose can also suit too heavy for some attics, and it’s susceptible to mold infestations when exposed to damp conditions. Even as loose-fill compresses over time, it falls some of its effectiveness.
The compound, spray foam, is an excellent choice for adding insulation to existing finished areas and reaching painful and irregular spaces. It is most suitable to apply to construction or a home undergoing a significant renovation, as exposed structures make a tightly
new sealed house more possible.
Foam is repellent to water damage and mold growth, making it the right choice for humid climates and areas susceptible to flooding, heavy rains, and hurricanes. Spray foam insulation also requires special machinery and a specialist installer for proper application. It can be a bit more expensive than other insulation types. Nevertheless, in exchange for these drawbacks, spray foam provides superior coverage. Because it seals directly to the surface, covers, and spray foam insulation decreases the requirement for air-sealing tasks such as caulking.
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