Insulation netting is used to provide support for unfaced insulation batts and blanket insulation. Insulation netting is often used in walls, floors, ceilings, and attics when other attachment methods are unavailable.
Insulation netting is available in a variety of thicknesses and sizes to meet the needs of different applications. Insulation netting is installed over the surface of the studs or joists to hold the insulation in place and allows for easy repairs in the future.
Most insulation netting is made from polypropylene, a type of plastic. When additional fire resistance is required, such as in a hospital environment, semi rigid metal insulation netting is often the best option.
Installing insulation netting is a great first time DIY project and only requires a few common household tools. Here we will describe what insulation netting is, what it is used for, and a few tips for installing it DIY style.
What Is Insulation Netting and How Does It Work?
Insulation netting, as the name implies, keeps loose fill and unfaced insulation in place. If the insulation netting were missing, gravity would eventually pull the insulation from the cavity. Generally, insulation is attached mechanically to the stud, joist, or rafter.
In some instances, in an attic or crawlspace for example, a masonry wall can be insulated using netting instead of erecting a wall just to hold the insulation. The insulation (batts, rigid foam boards, and loose fill) can be installed through small openings in the net, which is then closed.
Is Insulation Netting Used In Residential Construction?
Insulation netting is commonly used to hold insulation on unfinished basement walls, crawlspace walls, between floor joists, and between unfinished rafters. Insulation netting essentially replaces a wall covering like drywall with quick, effective insulation support that can cost a fraction of drywall to install.
Why Is Insulation Support Important?
Most forms of insulation, like fiberglass loose fill, batts and cellulose are subject to settling over time. Gravity will force insulation to compact, droop, sag, and otherwise create gaps that cold air can pass through.
Insulation netting provides the same support a wall covering would provide, but at a fraction of the cost. Insulation netting is often installed with 7/32” staples, but button cap nails are also common. Insulation netting prevents the insulation from creating a gap at the top of the cavity after settling.
How Much Does Insulation Netting Cost?
Insulation netting costs about $55.00-$60.00 for a 4’ x 250 roll. If you are insulating an 8’ wall, one roll will cover 125 linear feet, which is about the perimeter of a starter home. Insulation netting only requires a couple of tools, so some homeowners save the labor too and install it themselves.
Compared to drywall, insulation netting is very inexpensive. For example, if you have an unfinished basement wall that needs insulation you must first decide which insulation to use. Using faced fiberglass batts would require a stud wall as well to attach the batts to.
Insulation netting allows the installer to not only avoid building the stud wall, but also to use inexpensive materials like blanket insulation and unfaced roll insulation. The absence of studs means the insulation can be installed horizontally instead of vertically, requiring fewer cuts.
Do I Need to Install Insulation Netting If I Am Using Drywall?
The main purpose for installing insulation netting is to hold insulation in place when a wall covering, like drywall, is missing or will not be used. Faced insulation batts provide a fold out tab as part of the vapor barrier, which is stapled to the surface.
In modern construction, insulation netting is often used to allow one subcontractor to keep working when another is delayed. Builders are all about progress, so sometimes installing materials out of order makes more financial sense than logical sense, but it’s still a smart move.
Insulation netting allows the installer to install loose fill or unfaced batts into the cavities for speed and cover the entire area with a section of netting that holds the insulation in place. Insulation netting can also provide a backstop for walls that will only receive drywall on one side.
Benefits Of Netting Your Insulation
Insulation netting, both flexible and semi-flexible versions, will often outlive the fastener holding it on. Insulation netting provides no R value, fire resistance, or structural support but it does a great job of inexpensively holding insulation where you need it to stay.
Insulation Netting Is Inexpensive
Insulation netting is made from inexpensive plastic materials, keeping the material cost less than 10% that of drywall and wall framing. Insulation netting isn’t generally used in living areas, but it is perfect for industrial applications (like metal buildings), attics, and crawl spaces.
Insulation Netting Is Fast to Install
One person can install insulation netting quickly and easily. Most insulation netting is provided in convenient sizes that are divisible by 4 to make them adaptable to many environments. Most installers use a pneumatic or electric stapler with corrosion resistant staples (if used in at attic or crawl space).
Insulation Netting Has a Long Useable Life
Most insulation netting used in a residential project is molded from a thermoplastic resin, which gives it strength, durability, and heat resistance. In the event your insulation is damaged, the netting can be easily removed and reinstalled to allow for repairs.
Does Insulation Netting Work With Any Kind of Insulation?
There is insulation netting available for various types of insulation, so make sure you purchase the type designed for your insulation material. Some insulation netting has larger holes and less material to allow the insulation to breathe and dissipate moisture.
Other insulation nets provide a tighter pattern, so the holes are much smaller. These nets are appropriate for loose fill insulation, like fiberglass and cellulose. You can also use insulation netting over mineral wool (also known as Rock Wool) to help support the material.
Where Is Insulation Netting Used?
Professionals use insulation netting to avoid building non-load bearing walls just to hold up faced insulation batts. Insulation netting is similar in function to spray foam insulation because both are used when framing members are missing, like on a masonry wall.
Insulation netting can be used behind drywall as well to help provide support, but is more the exception than the rule. Insulation netting also offers better resistance to small pests like rats and mice, because the netting is much more difficult to damage than the drywall.
Probably the most common location for insulation netting is to hold crawl space joist insulation in place. Even if the cavities between the joists are completely full, insulation nets allow the addition of blanket insulation by providing support without fasteners.
How Is Insulation Netting Installed?
Most installers use a staple gun, hand drive staples, or button cap nails to install insulation netting. Insulation netting requires only a few tools and some space to work.
1. Measure the Insulation Netting
The easiest way to measure the netting is to just lay it on the floor in front of a wall and mark the length. You can do the same for attic floors. If you’re installing insulation netting on rafters or floor joists, just measure the area with a tape and add 12” in both directions.
Cutting the insulation netting is easy with the plastic version, but the mesh style metal version will require snips or other metal cutting tools.
2. Attach the Insulation Netting to the Surface
For walls and attic floors, start in one corner and attach the netting. You don’t need to leave the fastener loose since the netting is flexible. Keep the netting taut and install a fastener horizontally across the top of the netting to each framing member. For masonry walls, attach the netting every 16” -24” inches across the top of the net.
If your insulation is already installed, continue with the same fastening pattern until the entire area is covered by the netting. If not, install the unfaced batts, roll insulation, or blanket insulation as usual and finish by attaching the net around the perimeter of the area.
For loose fill installations, start at the bottom instead of the top and install fasteners on each framing member. Attach the bottom of the net first, then attach the vertical sides. Depending on the project, most installers use the spacing between the fasteners to insert the blower hose behind the netting.
If the space is too small, just detach the netting as needed to gain access behind the netting and reinstall the fasteners.
For masonry wall installations, the process is the same except that a vapor barrier must be placed between the masonry wall and the insulation (loose fill or batts) to avoid moisture absorption.
For masonry walls built from concrete blocks, most installers install anchors into the block followed by corrosion resistant masonry screws. For poured concrete walls, most follow the same process but employ a hammer drill to speed up the hole drilling.
Where Can I Buy Insulation Netting?
Insulation netting is a common insulation accessory so it will be available anywhere insulation is sold. You might find investing in a powered stapler is money well spent, or even a hammer drill if insulating concrete.
However, make sure you purchase the appropriate sized netting for your project. Insulation netting made for roll and blanket insulation is often less expensive because the insulation is more dense. This means the netting is often lighter weight and less expensive.
Conversely, insulation netting meant for loose fill insulation will have more material and likely be more expensive. If you accidentally install a lightweight netting and then blow loose fill behind it, you may find yourself cleaning up all the insulation that falls through the larger holes.
How Does Adding Insulation Netting Improve the Performance Of Insulation?
Increases Insulation Effectiveness
Studies show that unsupported insulation has comparatively lower insulation effectiveness (by a factor of 4.8) as compared to netted insulation. Insulation netting increases the effectiveness of insulation as it helps the insulation to maintain its shape and position and retain the air trapped inside.
Easy to Install
Insulation netting is very easy to install using a powered stapler. If the netting is installed over masonry, masonry screws are often placed in a consistent pattern for attachment or anchors are installed.
Less Installation Time
Because insulation nets are light-weight they can be carried with you into an attic or crawl space. Insulation nets are flexible and available in the form of rolls in different sizes and shapes to help speed up and simplify the process.
Rot & Chemical Resistant
Insulation netting is made of UV stabilized polypropylene, which resists rotting and chemical damage. Insulation netting is also non-toxic and has no adverse effects on the occupants.
Reduces Insulation Fatigue
Insulation needs to remain fluffy to work effectively. Products like mineral wool and spray foam do not compress over time, but fiberglass batts, insulation blankets, and roll insulation do. Insulation netting provides the support needed to resist the inevitable settling over time.
Reduces Energy Costs
Insulation materials like polystyrene, fiberglass and mineral wool are common in both residential and commercial construction. These materials work by establishing a thermal barrier between a living space and an unconditioned space, like a garage.
By installing insulation netting the performance and effectiveness of the insulation can be improved to a great extent by retaining the air trapped within the material.
Suitable For All Climates
Insulation netting can be used in all locations throughout the United States and is suitable for all climates. Selecting the appropriate insulation net is critical however, as some materials require more ventilation than others.