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Faced vs. Unfaced Insulation: What's the Difference?

Faced vs. Unfaced Insulation: What's the Difference?

Knowing what type of insulation is right for your home can make a big difference in the long run. Several factors impact your ultimate choice, including the climate, the area of your home that needs insulation, and the age of your home. 

When it comes to faced vs. unfaced insulation, there are some significant differences that you should be aware of. Work with your insulation contractor to understand the differences and make an informed decision for your home.

Vapor Barrier

One of the main differences between faced and unfaced insulation is the presence of a paper vapor barrier. Faced insulation has this barrier attached to the insulation to block moisture from getting into the insulation and, ultimately, the walls and ceilings of your home. 

Faced insulation can be especially helpful in humid climates or in homes close to water. Many faced insulation brands use paper for the barrier, but some use vinyl or aluminum foil. While these materials effectively block moisture, they are not always allowed in residential homes. 

It’s important to check with your local regulations before investing in faced insulation.

Unfaced Insulation is Non-Combustible

One of the other main differences between faced and unfaced insulation is that unfaced insulation is noncombustible. This means that it reduces the chances of a fire spreading if one occurs in the home. The barrier in faced insulation is flammable, so it does not have the same fire protection properties. 

Homeowners who live in dry climates are more likely to benefit from unfaced insulation. In dry climates, it is not as critical to have the moisture barrier that faced insulation provides. In addition, dry climates are at a higher risk for house fires, and unfaced insulation can make a big difference in fire spread and damage. 

If your home does catch fire, noncombustible insulation can provide precious minutes that can mean the difference between life and death.

Installation Methods

Insulation material is an important consideration, but how the installation is installed is just as important. If insulation is installed improperly, it won’t work as intended and may need to be adjusted or replaced down the road. 

In general, faced insulation is easier to install. The paper barrier acts as a glue that holds the insulation together. It can be rolled, moved, and installed without falling apart. On the other hand, unfaced insulation does not have anything holding it together, so it is more prone to tearing or breaking apart during the process. 

In addition, faced insulation can be easily stapled into place by utilizing the facing as an anchor. Staples don’t work as well with unfaced insulation, so the installer must rely on other methods. Even though it is easier to work with faced insulation, it is still important to work with an insulation contractor rather than attempt the job yourself. 

Contractors know all the tips and tricks to save on materials and make your insulation work as intended.

Attic Insulation vs. Living Space Insulation

There are different factors to consider depending on where insulation is going in your home. Your attic is not generally considered to be a living space, so insulation is usually not secured by a wall as in your living spaces. 

Having good attic and ceiling insulation is especially vital in cold climates. Heat in your home rises, so preventing this heat from escaping is critical in keeping your home comfortable.

Both faced and unfaced insulation can be good choices for your living space or attic insulation. The best thing you can do is work with your local insulation contractor to determine what is right for your home.


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