An under insulated attic can cost you a lot in unnecessary heating and cooling costs, everyone tells us this basic fact. Fortunately, updating your attic insulation is an easy, do-it-yourself project, and it does not have to cost a fortune. In addition, a lot of the online guides totally neglect to act like they live in the real world, where some people don’t have the ability to spend tons of cash on a single project. However, they have to do something to improve the conditions they are living in.

Keeping in mind that last sentence, you will find a lot of guides talking about The R-Value and the depth of insulation you absolutely must have. I call Foul! When we researched our house, the guides expected an R-38 attic insulation double layered. First off- who has that kind of money? Second, really? I want to improve my heating not insulate against an Alaskan Deep Freeze- This is not the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”!

The majority of all houses have some type of insulation already, when we crawled up into ours, we found that the insulation had been compacted down to an inch thickness and was pretty badly beaten up. However, we are not the typical Americans, always throwing everything away and never finding value in reusing it. We used the prior insulation which we ripped up, bunched back up, and shoved back into every spot that was missing insulation all together.
We used R-21 Unfaced rolls of insulation and went directly over the existing insulation that we choose not to remove. When adding a layer of insulation in the attic, unfaced should always be used so that moisture is not trapped inside the insulation. Don’t use faced insulation on top on faced insulation- it will cause moisture to build up.

Temporary flooring should be laid across the joists to provide some footing, and a temporary work light should be installed. Work toward the center of the room, which allows for more headroom. The center of the space is where cutting and fitting can be done. Work from the farthest section inwards towards your entrance point, in order not to be “insulated into a corner” where it will be hard to get back to the attic access.

Lay the insulation into the joist cavities until they are completely filled to the top of the joists, If the cavity is not completely filled, use the appropriate thickness of insulation to fill it to the top.
The insulation should extend far enough to cover the tops of the exterior walls, but should not block the flow of air from the soffit vents. To make sure the soffit vents aren’t blocked, install attic vents or baffles which assure unrestricted airflow from the soffit into the attic.

Insulation should be kept 3″ away from recessed lighting fixtures unless fixtures are marked “I.C.” (Insulated Ceiling) — designed for direct insulation contact. If insulation is placed over an unrated fixture, it may cause the fixture to overheat and perhaps start a fire. The insulation should always be installed at least 3″ away from any metal chimneys, gas water heater flues or other heat–producing devices.

Fill the spaces between a masonry chimney and wood framing with a noncombustible material, such as unfaced insulation, which will not burn.

Basic Tools Needed:
Utility knife
Work gloves
Loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt
Safety glasses
Disposable dust mask
Portable work light
Boards or sheets of plywood (provide a safe place to sit or kneel in an unfinished attic and a surface on which to cut the insulation)
Pole or rake (for pushing insulation into out-of-the-way places in attics/flat ceilings)


Before you begin:
Seal any open penetrations
Always use a portable work light to ensure you have enough light in your work environment
Leave insulation in its wrapper until you are ready to use it – Packaged insulation is highly compressed and expands greatly when the wrapper is opened
Provide a safe place to sit or kneel in an unfinished attic and a surface on which to cut the insulation
Use a pole or rake for pushing insulation into out-of-the-way places in attics/flat ceilings
Properly insulate and seal attic access openings

Congrats You Did it!