How to Install Radiant Barrier Insulation in Attic: 5 Steps

Ashley Mills
by Ashley Mills
Radiant barrier insulation, when installed in an attic, effectively acts as a barrier to the outside elements. For example, when the sun shines down on your home, the heat from the sun gradually enters the house from the attic. This type of insulation helps deflect the heat back outside, saving you from extremely hot temperatures and a lot of money by reducing air-conditioning usage.
Install radiant barrier insulation in your attic by following five simple steps:
Step 1: Material and Framing
A reflective material, such as foil, is best to use for a radiant barrier. You will also need a staple gun, razor blade, masking paper, tape and a spray-on adhesive.
Cut the masking paper into desired lengths and place it on the floor. Then, spray the adhesive on the paper and lay your pre-cut pieces of foil onto the adhesive. Make sure the foil is flat and properly secured to the paper.
For attics with conventional framing, the best way to install the insulation is perpendicular to the roof joists. Each piece should overlap each other by at least two inches.
When you begin to install the insulation, make sure the foil is facing the roof.
Step 2: Cutting The Necessary Holes in the Insulation
Once you've figured out exactly how and where the insulation will be installed, you'll need to cut holes to fit around the vertical bracing. Make sure you leave less than an inch of room between the foil and the braces themselves.
Next, cut holes for any pipes or roof vents that get in the way. The holes you cut for pipes should leave two inches of additional space between the pipe and the insulation.
Step 3: Staple Insulation to Your Roof
Once you've completed all of the measuring, begin stapling your radiant barrier insulation to the roof.
If possible, start stapling from the highest point and work your way down. Best practice dictates that you keep your staples no more than six inches apart. This will ensure a nice tight fit all the way around.
Step 4: Cut The Excess Insulation
Your measurements won't be perfect, so you'll need to cut some of the insulation away once you've finished installing it.
Use your razor blade to cut away excess insulation around the edges of your wall. Any insulation that is located around piping and vents is especially important and must be cut to the correct specifications.
Step 5: Double Check for Droop
For proper insulation and reflection of heat, a droop of at least 1 inch should be left between the roof and the foil itself.
There are a variety of insulation materials to choose from. While many come pre-made from the factory, many homeowners can make it and install it themselves with a few simple instructions.
Proper precautions should be taken at all times with open wires because foil conducts electricity. If you are unfamiliar with any specific requirements for your home or you simply don't have the time to make and install the insulation yourself, hire a professional contractor to complete the job for you.
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