The Pros and Cons of Different Types of Insulation

A home that is not well-insulated is uncomfortable and can cause families to experience several unpleasant things — temperature fluctuations throughout the house, high energy bills, chilly floors, icy drafts, and pests making a frequent appearance. If this sounds familiar, consider upgrading the insulation in your home for improved comfort and energy savings.  

While it may sound simple to improve your home’s insulation, there are many things to keep in mind. There are several types of insulation, including spray foam, cellulose, attic, and crawlspace insulation. Each type has a unique set of pros and cons and ideal uses. Every form of insulation has a different R-value, which measures an insulation’s thermal resistance or ability to block the movement of heat.  


Spray polyurethane foam, otherwise known as spray foam, is a blend of chemicals that react to create a foamy material. 


  • Expands quickly after it is applied and fits easily into a home’s crevices
  • Great for crawlspaces, knee walls, basement rim joists, bonus rooms, and more
  • Acts as an air sealant, keeping air from escaping through small gaps and holes
  • High R-value of up to R-6.9 per inch
  • Water resistant
  • Long-lasting
  • Sag-resistant


  • Should be installed by professionals
  • More expensive than other types of insulation
  • Must vacate your home for at least 12 hours during installation
  • Poorly mixed chemicals can lead to health risks and ineffective insulation


Cellulose insulation is made of small pieces of paper that are broken down into fibers. They are then treated with a mineral that provide flame-retardancy and withstands pests and mold.


  • Made from up to 85% recycled materials
  • Prevents certain materials from sitting in landfills and producing greenhouse gasses
  • Class 1 Fire Rating and can help control the spread of fire
  • Fits easily around objects to improve insulation’s effectiveness
  • Inexpensive compared to other types of insulation
  • Works well for attics


  • Not waterproof and prone to moisture
  • Vulnerable to rot and mold when it gets wet
  • Not an air barrier, so it must be paired with air sealing to meet ENERGY STAR standards
  • Low R-value of up to R-3.7 per inch when compared to spray foam insulation


Attics are often under-insulated and not air sealed, causing high energy bills and conditioned air to escape. Cellulose insulation paired with air sealing is a popular choice for attics due to its quality of easily fitting around obstacles.


  • Lower energy bills
  • Improve indoor air quality and comfort
  • HVAC doesn’t need to work as hard
  • Control sources of moisture
  • Can provide a long-term solution to ice dams
  • Eliminate drafts


  • Should be air sealed along with insulated
  • Cellulose insulation should be installed by a professional


Crawlspaces are the area between the ground and the first floor. Unsurprisingly, crawlspaces aren’t usually the first place people think about when they are looking to upgrade their insulation. However, uninsulated crawlspaces can develop problems, such as mold or musty smells. Mold is especially problematic to the health of those suffering from asthma or allergies. Crawlspaces are usually insulated with closed cell spray foam insulation because it is water resistant.  


  • Improve comfort and energy efficiency
  • Reduce bugs and critters
  • Lower dust levels
  • Improve indoor air quality
  • Prevent mold and smells from forming


  • Spray foam insulation should be installed by a professional
  • Can be more expensive than other types of insulation

If you are unsure of what type of insulation would be best for your home, contact Ecotelligent Homes today to schedule a home energy audit and learn what type of insulation can improve the comfort and efficiency of your home.