What is the Best Method for Installing a Radiant Barrier?

After deciding on installing green energy barrier, you’ll need to decide which installation method is most suitable for your home. There are two principal criteria that should shape your decision: 1) your area’s climate and 2) whether your attic has ductwork or not.

Two of the most common methods of installing radiant barrier are to either staple the radiant barrier attic foil to the base of your roof rafters or lay out the radiant barrier foil insulation over your existing blown-in or batt attic insulation.

Tape a nail on the end of a pole or 1x2 board to stab the foil and push back into hard to reach areas.
Tape a nail on the end of a pole or 1x2 board to stab the foil and push back into hard to reach areas.

What Climate Are You In?

If you happen to reside in a mixed or cold climate, installing the radiant barrier over the attic floor insulation is the most effective and easiest to do. During summer, it will lessen the gain of radiant heat into the home and during winter it will diminish heat loss due to radiation and restrict convective looping, which refers to cold, heavy air sinking through the attic insulation and reducing the R-Value associated with your attic’s insulation. Keep in mind, foil insulation is NEVER a replacement for regular attic insulation. They work in tandem to decrease both conductive as well as radiant heat flow.

In case you reside in a hot or warm climate and there's NO ductwork in your attic, then go ahead and install the radiant barrier attic foil over your existing insulation. This is considered to be the best option for minimizing winter heat loss and summer heat gain. Make certain that you have sufficient insulation PRIOR TO adding radiant barrier. After the radiant barrier has been laid out on top of the blown-in insulation, you can’t add more insulation on top. This will remove the benefit you get from a radiant barrier, which relies on an air space on one side of the foil to be effective.

Installing attic foil to roof rafters
Installing attic foil to roof rafters

Got Ducts?

But if your attic DOES have ductwork in it, then look at the staple-up method. View it this way - putting ductwork in your attic is similar to using the oven for making ice cream. When you staple the foil to the base of the rafters, you get the benefit of lessening the inflow of radiant heat into the attic insulation AND decreasing the attic temperature. By keeping down the attic temperature, less heat is going to be transferred INTO the ductwork as a result of conductive heat flow. Moreover, it feels very cool when you walk into your attic on a hot summer day compared to the feeling of walking into an oven.

Bringing it home

Any of the radiant barrier install method will work well. In hot or warm climates, it’s a matter of what's easiest versus what’s best. Laying the radiant barrier foil across existing insulation is normally the easiest and works great. Getting it stapled to the bottom of the roof rafters will result in a cooler attic, put the ductwork in a more effective environment AND diminish gain of radiant heat into the home. The staple-up method leads to the absolute minimum gain of heat into the home. Both these methods of installing radiant barrier will make your home feel more comfortable and result in money saved on your utility bills.

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Comments 2 comments

Fernanda 3 years ago

Photography is an art that can be perfected thugroh education.But like every other form of art,inborn talent and the humility to keep redefining the borders of possibility always make the difference.This right here, is art.Bravo!!!

Tan 3 years ago

We are beginners and have italusned 1/2 of the available storage attic area under the roof, along a north wall and the south wall. R13 was used because the floor of this area had been italusned years ago. In order to preserve the paper of the insulation we covered all of it with med.3 ml.poly. (also to protect from storage punctures). Today we found water vapor along the seams under the stapled vinyl. We are in the process of removing the poly. Can you explain why this is happening? Also, what would you suggest? We have a roof fan, but the temperature has been 85 and over. Thank you in advance Ms. Karcz

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