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Insulation R-Value: What It Means And What You Need

If you’re trying to maximize the energy efficiency of your home, you may be researching insulation. But how much insulation should be installed? This is an important question to ask and a big part of the answer is the R-value.

What is insulation R-value and what does it mean for you? How much insulation does your Houston home need? Put simply, the R in R-value stands for resistance, and it’s a basic measurement of an insulation material’s heat resistance.

If you’re ready to begin your insulation project, call the team at IBP Houston at 281-653-8382 281-653-8382 or fill out the form on this page. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about R-value!

How Is Insulation R-Value Calculated?

Let’s start with an example: solid wood has an R-value of 1. An R-value is also calculated per inch of width. Therefore, a three-inch-thick board has an R-value of 3. Blown fiberglass installed in the attic has an R-value of 2.2 per inch, so 12 inches of it would give you an R-value of 26.4 in your attic installation project.

Insulation professionals will be able to tell you how much insulation you need, based on:

  • What region you live in (see the map below)
  • What type of HVAC systems you have
  • The size of your home
  • Where you need to insulate
  • And more

One of the most important aspects is where you live.

What Are Recommended R-Values for the Houston Area?

Here in Houston, we are in Zone 2. In wood-framed homes—for both new construction and retrofit projects—the insulation R-values are as follows:

Recommended Insulation R-Value in HoustonOf course, it’s important to talk to your insulation company about specifics. They’ll be able to determine how much insulation you need and recommend solutions for your unique situation and any special cases.

What Type of Insulation is Best?

Related to R-value and how much insulation you need, professionals will help you determine where you need to insulate (attic, walls or crawl space) and what type of insulation to install. Your options for retrofit insulation are:

  • Fiberglass (batts and blown-in): Fiberglass, which has been used to insulate homes for decades, is available as loose-fill/blown-in or batts. Fiberglass is made of tiny glass fibers and is often installed in attics but can be used to insulate walls and crawl spaces as well. Loose fill fiberglass has an average R-value of 2.2—2.7 per inch, while fiberglass batts have a slightly higher R-value of 3.0—4.0 per inch.
  • Radiant barrier: Radiant barrier is a type of reflective insulation material typically installed in attics (under the roof) to help reduce cooling costs by reflecting radiant heat.
  • Spray foam: Applied wet, this polyurethane spray expands into a thick foam, filling small crevices and gaps to help reduce air infiltration. Open-cell spray foam has an R-value of about 3.5—3.6 per inch, while closed-cell spray foam has a much higher R-value of 6.0—6.5 per inch.
  • Cellulose: This environmentally friendly insulation consists of up to 85 percent recycled material, which takes less energy to make than other insulation materials. Loose-fill cellulose has an average R-value of 3.2—3.8 per inch.

If you’re building a new home, rigid foam board insulation is also an option. Rigid board, or rigid foam, insulation can be made of polystyrene, polyisocyanurate or polyurethane and is typically installed in new buildings.

This is a lot of information, but don’t worry—you won’t be on your own. An insulation company will be able to help you with all your needs and explain R-value, the right amount of insulation for your home and more!

Home Insulation Services in Houston, TX & Surrounding Areas

The R-Value shouldn’t be the only determining factor. How old your home is, its location and building materials also play an important role when it comes to choosing the right insulation. Cost and the inhabitants of the home may be another factor in your decision-making. Whatever the type of installation you need, IBP Houston can help. As part of the IBP family of companies, we offer the resources and expertise that few local companies can match.

Contact us to learn more about our insulation installation services or if you’re ready to install insulation in your Houston area home!

Insulation Products We Install
Radiant Barrier

We can help keep your home cooler and more comfortable with an attic radiant barrier.


Our team installs both batt and blown-in fiberglass insulation.


Environmentally friendly and effective, cellulose works well in homes and buildings.

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