The Difference Between Faced And Unfaced Insulation

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Faced and unfaced insulation differ because faced insulation has a vapor barrier attached and unfaced does not. Faced insulation should be used when there isn’t existing insulation, especially on external walls. Unfaced insulation is a better option for supplemental insulation or insulating interior walls or floors.
Proper insulation is necessary to keep your home’s internal temperature at a comfortable level and reduce heating and air conditioning costs. To that end, you’ll need to choose the appropriate type of insulation when having it installed.
To know for sure which type of insulation your project needs, home and car insurance super-app Jerry has put together everything you need to know about faced and unfaced insulation.
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Faced versus unfaced insulation

While there are a lot of similarities, there’s one main difference between faced and unfaced fiberglass insulation—faced insulation has a vapor retarder made of paper or plastic. As the name suggests, this is used to minimize potential moisture damage to the walls and insulation. 
It doesn’t sound big, but this difference can make a major impact. The important thing is to understand when to use faced insulation and when to use unfaced insulation
At first, it might sound like faced insulation is always better. After all, isn’t it always good to guard against vapor damage? As strange as it might sound, there are many situations where using unfaced insulation is a much better idea. 
Generally, faced insulation should be used on exterior walls where no preexisting insulation is present. Other locations should be insulated with unfaced fiberglass. 

What is faced insulation?

Faced insulation is a type of batt insulation, meaning it comes in precut rolls. It has a “facing” or vapor barrier made out of kraft paper, foil kraft paper, aluminum foil, or vinyl–though kraft paper is the most common. 
The point of this facing is to protect the structure and the insulation from damage caused by vapor or moisture. Without it, materials like drywall would quickly deteriorate and/or mold from even mild moisture exposure. 
Apart from helping prevent moisture from entering and damaging your home, faced insulation is easier to install than unfaced insulation. Rather than depend on friction to hold it in place (as unfaced insulation does), faced fiberglass can be stapled to studs and supports. 
Faced insulation also has greater structural integrity since the vapor barrier helps hold it together as a cohesive unit. 

When should I use faced insulation?

Faced insulation mainly should be used for any exterior facing walls or the roof. Think of it like a shell that surrounds the house. The main goal is to prevent moisture from entering your home. This will drastically reduce the risk of moisture damage, mold, and mildew. 
The paper vapor barrier should always face “in”. If you’re installing your attic, for instance, the barrier should face down. If you are insulating a bedroom with an exterior wall, the paper should be facing in toward the room—not toward the outside. 
Walls that do not face the exterior should only have faced insulation if there is some special risk of moisture damage there. Because faced insulation is more flammable, it should not be used where it is not needed. 
Never use two layers of faced insulation on top of each other as this can trap moisture and actually increase the risk of water damage and mold, rather than decreasing it. 

What is unfaced insulation?

Unfaced insulation, quite simply, is batt insulation that does not have a vapor barrier. Instead, it’s just rolls of fiberglass that fit snuggly into place and the friction keeps it from moving. Unfaced insulation should be cut to fit the required size and never folded over, and it should fit snuggly but not be crammed into a space. 
A benefit of unfaced insulation is that it is not combustible, so it can’t catch and spread flames. In fact, unfaced insulation is quite good at preventing the spread of already existing fires. 

When should I use unfaced insulation?

Unfaced insulation should be used where you don’t need to guard against moisture damage. This includes areas in which the walls are made of concrete or other materials that are not susceptible to moisture damage, including most interior walls and floors
You also should use unfaced insulation whenever adding additional insulation. Some homeowners decide to add more insulation to exterior walls to improve their home's temperature regulation. While the exterior layer can be faced, the interior one should be unfaced to prevent moisture from getting trapped between two vapor barriers. 

Measuring insulation efficacy

The efficacy of insulation is measured by its R-value. This refers to its ability to resist air movement. Generally, the thicker insulation is, the higher its R-value will be. A higher R-value means that your insulation is better at preventing heat from leaving and entering your home. 
By default, faced and unfaced insulation have fairly comparable R-values. If unfaced insulation becomes wet though, its R-value will decrease. Because of this, faced insulation maintains its R-value much better than unfaced insulation in humid environments

What R-value insulation do I need?

The R-value you’ll need will depend on the atmosphere where you live and the part of your house you’re insulating. Colder areas will typically need a higher R-value. But insulation doesn’t just keep heat in, it also keeps it out, so it’s still good to have high R-values in hot areas. 
It’s theoretically possible (but very unlikely) to have too high of an R-value. Generally speaking, the higher your R-value is, the better. For walls, you’ll usually want between R13 and R25. Floors need between R20-R30. Attics will need the most insulation, ideally between R30 and R60

Finding affordable home insurance

Proper insulation is a great way to protect your home against damage. Unfortunately, even the most prepared home can sometimes end up on the wrong end of an accident or natural disaster. When this happens, you need to have quality home insurance coverage
The good news is that great coverage doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Using the insurance broker app Jerry, you can shop and compare customized quotes from all the top name-brand insurance companies in seconds! 
Jerry will find you the best possible coverage at the lowest possible rate, help you bundle your home and auto policy, handle the paperwork to get you switched over, and even cancel your old policy for you! 
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Yes. Faced insulation, which has a vapor barrier, should only be used on exterior walls and roofs–or where the risk of moisture damage is especially high. Otherwise, you should be using unfaced insulation.
Faced insulation is primarily required for exterior walls and roofs.

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