Blown Insulation vs. Rolled: Choosing the Right Insulation

If you’re thinking about adding insulation to your home, you’ll need to decide what type will work best with your building. Today, we’ll get into the details of blown vs. rolled insulation.

If you’re looking for a home improvement project that will pay for itself, you can’t beat adding attic insulation. Insulation works like a cozy blanket that keeps your home feeling warmer while lowering your heating bills. 

If you’re a South Dakota native, you know that our winters can be brutal. When it’s frigid outside, stay cozy in your home with a blanket of ultra-efficient insulation. Reach out to SoDak Insulation today for a free inspection and recommendations to improve your comfort at home.

SoDak Insulation is the best local insulation company for improving your home’s feel and energy efficiency. We are experts at finding the best fit for your older home. Contact us today for a custom solution.

blown vs rolled insulation choices

What Is Rolled Insulation? 

Rolled insulation comes in what looks like a long, narrow blanket. The continuous piece of insulation is packed tightly like a cinnamon roll, which is the source of its name. 

Blanket insulation is also available in batts. Batt insulation is similar to the rolled variety, but comes in pieces instead of rolls. The smaller pieces make for easy do-it-yourself installation, but it has more potential for gaps because there will be more seams.

Rolled insulation usually comes in 16 or 24-inch widths to fit perfectly between building joists. The blanket sits between the wooden joists and is easily trimmed to the right length. 

If your attic floor has no insulation, lay in batts or rolls to fit between the floor joists. Trim the roll with a utility knife to easily fit it in place.

Insulation needs to be fluffy to work, so don’t squish or compress the material to fit in the space. 

Rolled insulation can be layered to increase the total insulating value. When placing a second layer, position the rolls at a ninety-degree angle over the first in order to cover the joists. 

Rolled insulation comes with R-values ranging from 2.9 to 4.3 per inch of thickness. The R-value for the total thickness of the roll is listed on the package. Add layers in order to reach your desired total R-value.

Rolled insulation can be made from a variety of materials, including:

  • Fiberglass
  • Mineral wool
  • Cellulose

What Is Blown Insulation?

Blown insulation, or loose-fill insulation, is a type of insulation that is sprayed or blown into the spaces to be insulated. 

Rolled insulation has a texture similar to cotton candy. Blown insulation is more like a bag of cotton balls. It doesn’t hold together in a single piece. 

Like snowflakes accumulating on your driveway, this type of insulation coats the attic floor in a thick blanket. The more you apply, the thicker your blanket will be.

You will need a pneumatic blowing machine to blow in the insulation. You may be able to rent this from your local home improvement store. Make sure you have a power source and adequate access to get the machine into your attic space. 

Blown insulation is often made from recycled materials, such as paper or denim. These materials are broken down into cellulose. A fire retardant is added in the process to keep your home safe. 

Blown insulation is available in a variety of materials:

  • Cellulose, which is often made from recycled materials
  • Mineral wool
  • Fiberglass insulation

Blown insulation has an R-value ranging from 2.2 to 3.8. The loose-fill application means you can get the exact depth you need to achieve your desired total R-value.

Loose-fill insulation can also be spread by hand, but it won’t be as fluffy and the distribution won’t be as even.

hands holding a house keeping it warm

Blown Insulation vs. Rolled: Which Is Better?

Both forms of insulation can improve your home’s energy efficiency. Which choice is better for your home?

It depends. 

How Accessible Is Your Attic?

An open attic with high rafters will make rolled insulation easier to install. 

Also consider the angle where your roofline meets the attic floor. Can you reach the edge, or does it get too narrow?

If you have a low-pitched roof, it might be easier to blow insulation into that space than to reach it by hand.

If your attic access doesn’t allow you to bring a blower in, rolled insulation is your winner. 

Blown insulation vs. rolled insulation? The winner is usually going to be the blown insulation in this category. But if your architecture has barriers to blown in application, rolled insulation will do the job nicely.

Do You Have Recessed Lighting?

If you have recessed lights in your ceiling, you may have light fixtures projecting through your attic floor. 

If you have fixtures to go around, it’s best not to bury them in insulation. The solution: place a wooden or metal box over the light to create space between the fixture and your insulation. 

Insulation should be kept at least three inches from all fixtures and wiring compartments. 

Blown insulation vs. rolled? If you are going around multiple light fixtures, blown insulation is a clear winner. Rolled insulation would require more time to cut and fit around fixture boxes, and would have greater potential for energy-sucking gaps. 

homeowner who's cold due to poor insulation and adjusting his thermostat

Is It Time to Call the Insulation Pros?

If you are inclined to add or replace insulation in your home or business, ask yourself a couple of question:

  • Are you comfortable spending lots of time in your attic? Depending on the size of the space and your fitness level, this could quickly become uncomfortable.
  • Do you have any respiratory or other conditions that would make installing insulation hazardous to your health? No matter how you do it, insulation installation is hot, dusty work. If you also have health concerns, it’s probably not worth the risk of DIY-ing it.
  • Are you comfortable running a blower? For some people, the weight, noise, and hassle of renting a machine are deal-breakers. If you’ve never used one before, they can be intimidating, too.

Blown insulation vs. rolled? If you want a second opinion about the best option for you, call insulation experts. At SoDak Insulation, we’re happy to help you choose the best insulation for your space. Contact us today with all your questions.

Consider All Of Your Options

Before charging into a DIY project, you’ll want to know what the cost and potential savings will be. An insulation contractor may cost less than you think. It’s definitely the quickest and easiest way to get your home insulated efficiently!

Reach out to SoDak Insulation today for a free inspection and quote. We’re here to keep you warm and happy!

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