Everything A Tiny House Lover Needs To Know About Insulation

Construction & Contractors Articles

The tiny house movement is sweeping the nation. If you are interested in building one of these minuscule homes for your family, you need to learn a little bit about construction process, including insulation. A tiny house may save you money on heat and utility bills, but only if it is as well-insulated as a full-size home. 

What Is R-factor?

The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association defines R-factor in insulation as the "resistance to heat flow." In other words, the higher the R-value, the better your home is insulated. Insulation protects your home from heat loss in the winter as well as the loss of cool air in the summer. The weather where you live, combined with the type of heating system you install in your tiny home, determines the appropriate R-factor necessary for you situation. NAIMA has an easy-to-use chart on their website to help you determine the correct R-factor for your area.

Main Types Of Insulation

1. Batt: Batt insulation, or continuous insulation, is what most people picture when they hear the word insulation. The ubiquitous pink roll of fiberglass insulation is used in attics as well as in the space between wall studs. It is easy for anyone to install on their own during the construction process, and is fairly inexpensive. 

2. Cellulose: This type of insulation is commonly referred to as blown-in insulation. The insulating material, usually cellulose or recycled newspaper, is blown into the attic and remains a loose covering over the ceiling joists. It can also be added to both attics and wall cavities after construction to increase a home's R-factor. 

3. Rigid: Polystyrene foam boards are the most common form of rigid insulation. Typically, rigid insulating boards are attached to the outside of a home before the siding is installed. It can boost a home's overall R-factor, which can be particularly useful in a cold climate. Installation is straight-forward and can be performed by a novice do-it-yourselfer. 

4. Spray Foam: This type of insulation expands as it is sprayed and is often used to fill small gaps around windows, doors, and electrical outlets. There are commercial companies that spray entire homes, but most homeowners only have access to small cans sold at home improvement stores. This is best for areas where cold air can enter your space and create drafts. In fact, Mother Earth News points out that an eighth of an inch gap running the length of a six foot door is the same as a nine inch square hole in the side of your home. 

Are There Green Choices?

One of the most popular eco-friendly options in insulation is denim insulation. Just like it sounds, denim insulation is made from post-production scraps from the cutting room floors of major blue jean manufacturers. Denim insulation can also be made from post-consumer waste, meaning discarded blue jeans. It is available in both a continuous batt insulation and a loose, cellulose insulation. Not only is it made from 85 percent recycled waste, but it is also 100 percent recyclable should you ever remodel your home. Denim giant Levi Strauss & Co. even used denim insulation when they remodeled their San Francisco offices. 

While denim is a unique choice--and a definite conversation starter-- there are even more unusual choices available on the market today. Wool fibers are an organic, if not expensive option for homes as well. In fact, if it keeps the sheep warm, it is bound to work in your home. There are even soy-based spray foams available that have great insulating properties. 

Luckily, with a tiny house, you do not need much insulation due to the small square footage. You have the luxury of choosing the product that works best for you. 


16 December 2014

Building our Guest House Was a Great Decision

For years, my wife and I debated on what we wanted to do with all of the spare land in the back of our house. We were lucky enough to buy a house on an extra-large lot for a great deal, but the land was "going to waste" for quite a while. One day, we finally decided to have a guest house built on it, and now that the house is finished, we wish we had built it long ago. We are now renting it out for some extra income, and it is helping us save for retirement. I have always been fascinated by construction, so I enjoyed watching the professionals build the guest house and learned a lot during the process. I decided to fill some free time by blogging about the experience and sharing some construction info I learned during the process. Come back soon!