If you’re planning to insulate your house or enhance your current insulation setup at home, you might’ve already come across the term vinyl-faced insulation.
Vinyl-faced insulation is an insulation solution with a vinyl vapor retarder attached to one side of the insulation that acts as an additional protective coating for blocking vapor and moisture.
Whether for commercial or residential uses, it’s crucial to learn the pros and cons of vinyl-faced insulation to ensure you’ll arrive at an informed decision and know whether it is suitable for your building.
Here, we will discuss vinyl-faced insulation, where to use it best, and its merits and demerits.
What Is Vinyl-Faced Insulation?
Vinyl-faced insulation is an insulation solution in which vinyl is used as a facing material, acting as a vapor retarder or additional protective coating for blocking vapor and moisture from penetrating insulation materials or entering the walls and ceilings of the home. The vinyl facing also keeps insulation in place and binds the material to its surroundings.
Vinyl-faced insulation can sustain higher thermal efficiency by reducing the harmful effect of moisture on the main insulation’s material. The term “faced” means the vinyl is attached to one side of the insulation.
Because of the presence of a vapor retarder that prevents vapor and moisture, vinyl-faced insulation is suitable for exterior walls, especially in coastal cities that are in humid locations. It’s also ideal for attics, ceilings, floors, finished basements, or any areas inside the house where moisture is likely to seep in.
Faced insulation typically looks like spongy or fluffy blanket-like insulation but with a vapor retarder or a thin layer of impervious facing material on one side. It usually comes in batts or long roll form. Moreover, the vinyl facing is usually available in white or black and is overlaid with the fiberglass blanket.
Faced vs Unfaced Insulation: What’s The Difference?
The main difference between faced and unfaced insulation is the presence of a vapor retarder or lack thereof.
Faced insulation has a vapor retarder or barrier acting as a protective layer attached to one side of the insulation. Faced insulation usually comes in a roll-in or batt form and varies in thickness and width.
The vapor retarder, commonly known as the facing of the insulation, prevents gases, water vapor, excess humidity, or moisture from entering and spreading within the house’s walls.
Since unfaced insulation lacks a vapor retarder, it’s suitable for areas that are not that humid and don’t need moisture control. Therefore, it’s best for places like studies, living rooms, and dining rooms. It’s also great for interior wall applications or attic insulation.
Moreover, unfaced insulation is excellent as supplemental insulation or when existing insulation remains because of the lack of barrier that could affect the insulation stack. Additionally, unfaced insulation is great for soundproofing and is considered a non-combustible material.
Other differences between the two insulation types are the installation process. Faced insulation is typically installed by stapling the facing. In contrast, the unfaced insulation is fitted and placed into the cavities by friction or pressure between studs, joists, or rafters.
What Are Alternatives To Vinyl Facing?
Here are different insulation facing that can be alternatives to vinyl facing
Like the name itself, it uses reinforced kraft paper or strong cardboard from wood pulp that usually has an asphalt coating for its facing insulation. The kraft paper is impermeable to water vapor, acting as a vapor barrier that keeps the moisture out of the wall cavity. This keeps the insulation dry.
Foil-facing insulation, also known as reflective insulation, is typically made of aluminized polyester or aluminum. It not only acts as a vapor or moisture barrier but is also great as a radiant barrier. It has a layer of reflective foil on one side, which reflects and prevents heat from moving from one side of a building to the other.
Polyethylene is a closed-cell plastic made of low-density polyethylene foam that is also commonly used as a vapor barrier. Because of its low permeability rating, water vapor or moisture does not travel through it.
Asphalt-Impregnated Or Asphalt-Coated Facing
Asphalt-impregnated or asphalt-coated facing incorporates asphalt or a mixture of aggregates, filler, and binder (crushed rocks, gravel, sand, or slags) with thermal conductivity or the ability to transfer or conduct heat.
Where Is Vinyl-Faced Insulation Used?
Vinyl-faced insulation is ideal for industrial and commercial buildings or any building that need to maintain the temperature inside the walls. The locations most suitable for vinyl-faced insulation include metal buildings, manufacturing plants, warehouses, hospitals, hotels, retail centers, foundries, and many more. It can also be used for construction, new buildings, or retrofit projects.
Moreover, vinyl-faced insulation is also perfect for cathedrals and residential areas where ceilings and walls where prevention of downflow of heat is needed during the day. It can also be installed on attic ceilings and exterior basement walls and on top of the existing insulation for effective heat insulation. It can also be used for residential applications, such as bedrooms, offices, and gyms, especially when converting that space.
Additionally, vinyl-faced insulation is best applied in locations with rainy or cold climates because it can keep the area warm during the winter and keep the moisture from rain, ice, and snow from getting in, which can lead to mildew and mold.
You can also install vinyl-faced insulation in local areas that require a vapor retarder or vapor barrier, so it’s best to look up your local building codes first to fulfill those requirements.
How Is Vinyl-Faced Insulation Installed?
Before installing vinyl-faced insulation, you must first check your local building code for insulation (R-value) level and vapor barrier requirements that apply to your area.
Vinyl-faced insulation is installed by stapling the facing to the sides or framing edges. It’s commonly installed in first-time insulation installations on surfaces such as ceilings, walls, floors, and crawlspaces.
Climatic conditions also play a key role in installing vinyl-faced insulation. In cold climates, the paper layer or vapor retarder should face the house’s interior. In contrast, the vapor retarder needs to face the house’s exterior. If you’re installing it in a crawl space, the vapor retarder needs to face upward toward your floors. When installed in an attic, it must face downwards toward your ceiling.
What’s The R-Value of Vinyl-Faced Insulation? Comparison Chart
R-Value is the measurement of thermal resistance or the resistance level to heat flow of a specific material. The higher the R-value, the more effective insulation efficiency will be.
Vinyl-facing doesn’t directly affect the R-value of the insulation but can prevent the downgrading of its R-Value due to excessive moisture, as vinyl acts as a barrier against humidity.
The R-value of vinyl-faced insulation is determined by the thickness and the layers of underlying insulation. The thicker the insulation material, the more it resists heat transfer.
The R-value also changes depending on the specific materials used, as each insulation material has its own R-value and interacts differently with heat flow. In addition, each insulation type and facing material has different conduction, convection, and radiation properties.
Pros and Cons of Vinyl-Faced Insulation
Here are the various advantages of using vinyl-faced insulation:
Increased Indoor Comfort
Another significant advantage of using vinyl-faced insulation is increased indoor comfort. This happens when the temperature is more stable and easily controlled, even during harsh weather conditions. It also helps keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer during the winter, making the space more comfortable. In addition, vinyl-faced insulation results in fewer drafts as heated or cooled air cannot escape or enter the walls.
Water and Moisture Resistance
Since vinyl-faced insulation has a vapor retarder, this facing acts as a protective layer material that prevents moisture, vapor, excess humidity, and gases from seeping and moving into the insulation and throughout the house’s walls, providing better water and moisture resistance. In addition, it prevents moisture accumulation, a common cause of mold or mildew growth and moisture damage.
Higher HVAC System Performance
Using vinyl-faced insulation will result in better HVAC system performance as it will work in tandem with it to slow the heat transfer from the outside to the building and prevent any air leakage that could impact the HVAC’s efficiency.
In addition, because vinyl-faced insulation prevents heat from escaping your home, your HVAC system will put in less work, especially in wintertime, because your home will stay warm with consistent temperatures. Your HVAC system won’t also work harder to keep the house cooler in summertime, as the vinyl-faced insulation will already prevent heat from entering your home.
Vinyl-faced insulation helps reduce the noise transfer as it acts as a barrier that absorbs vibrations or noises coming from the source, whether it’s coming in from the outside or within. The thicker the insulation, the better it will absorb noise. Vinyl-faced insulation can also be a soundproofing solution to keep the sound in.
Ease of Installation
Vinyl-faced insulation also offers ease of insulation, making it a perfect choice for DIY projects, especially for homeowners. It can be installed by stapling, and since it’s already held together by the vapor barrier, it’s much easier to roll or move the vinyl-faced insulation around. This makes the installation process less complex and time-consuming.
Slightly More Expensive
One downside of using vinyl-faced insulation is that it is much more expensive than other insulation types because of the different materials used including the vapor retarder. Viny;-faced insulation commonly ranges from $0.50 to $2 per square foot of wall installed. The price of the vinyl-faced insulation may also vary depending on the R-value, the size, and the location area of the building.
Vinyl-faced insulation has a vapor retarder typically available in forms like kraft paper, foil kraft paper, vinyl, aluminum foil, or gypsum board. However, these facing materials attached to the insulation can be flammable, which can be a safety hazard, especially when in close contact with heating sources, including light fixtures and electrical devices.
When Should You Use Faced Insulation?
Faced insulation is typically used in first-time insulation applications and cannot be used to overlap with an existing insulation solution. Ceilings, walls, floors, and crawlspaces can all be insulated with faced insulation.
Do You Need To Put Plastic Over Faced Insulation?
It’s not advisable to put plastic over faced insulation as it already has a vapor retarder that already prevents vapor and moisture from entering and spreading into the insulation. Putting plastic over it may result in moisture accumulation inside the faced insulation and in your house’s walls that can damage them.