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Insulation Installation Cost: A Comprehensive Guide

When you start the journey of homeownership, the first thing on your mind is most likely not your home’s insulation. However, proper insulation is a necessity—especially if you don’t want a drafty house that’s difficult to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

In addition to peace of mind, a well-insulated house offers you comfort, safety, and maybe even savings on your energy bill. But what is reasonable to expect when determining insulation installation cost?

The national average for home insulation prices  varies on a case by case basis and is based on several factors.1 This guide will go over many of these factors so you can better estimate your costs and better safeguard your home.

Insulation Costs Per Square Foot

Understanding the national average is a good starting point, but it won’t be completely accurate depending on the size of your home and your insulation needs. 

Breaking down the cost by square feet can help you get a better idea of your needs. To do this, it’s worth looking at new construction vs. replacement insulation. Why? Because the cost to install insulation in an attic typically isn’t the same as the cost to replace attic insulation:1

That’s because you need to factor in the labor cost to install insulation, too. 

Types of Insulation

While square footage can help you get a better sense of your estimated insulation costs, to help clear up the picture, other factors need to be considered. The first, and potentially most important, is the type of insulation you plan on using.

Going in-depth on every type of insulation is something best covered in our attic insulation guide, but by looking briefly at insulation types, we can narrow our price estimates:3

  • Batt insulation – Normally packaged in rolls, batt insulation works well if you’re insulating a space where you don’t have to deal with many obstructions. This insulation type is typically more labor intensive.
  • Blown-in insulation – This form of insulation uses a machine (blower) to install. It can be a useful choice to fill areas that are unusually shaped and may be difficult to insulate with other forms of insulation. This type of insulation provides the best coverage and best bang for your buck, including both the cost of the material itself and labor install costs.
  • Spray foam insulation – Similar to blown-in insulation, this type of insulation works by utilizing a spray polyurethane foam that then hardens into place. Spray foam differs from blown-in when it comes to price and the ability to install the insulation materials yourself. This insulation type requires special equipment for the spray polyurethane foam and it is recommended to get this professionally done, which makes overall spray foam insulation cost a bit more.

These three are not the only options when it comes to types of insulation. You may also see radiant or reflective insulation. There is also foam board insulation. However, these forms of insulation are priced much higher than the three more common forms covered and are often used for specialized reasons.

Materials Cost

You’ll notice there’s still a range even as we break down the type of installation you’ll be doing. This is in part because even after you determine how your insulation will be installed, you will need to choose from different materials. It’s worth noting certain materials only work with certain types of insulation:4

  • Fiberglass – This common form of insulation is one you’ll often see for a few notable reasons. Fiberglass insulation is not overly expensive, it’s versatile, and it works well.
  • Cellulose – Made of recycled newspaper and cardboard that is then treated with chemicals to make it heat resistant, is becoming a popular option because of its relatively low cost. However, its penchant for absorbing water and settling means you will likely need to replace it sooner than other materials and eliminate any cost savings.
  • Polystyrene – This is the material you will need if you opt for spray foam. And while the process of installing spray foam is labor-intensive (driving up the price), the material itself will also cost more. So unless there is a compelling reason to opt for spray foam, it may be better for your wallet if you look at other options.

Even having broken down the different materials, you may still experience a range of prices when it comes to cost. This is because even within the same category of materials, you may find different R-values. 

What is R-value? Put simply, an R-value is a measurement of how well your insulation will resist heat. The higher the R-value, the better resistance.3 Higher R-value materials will generally come with a higher price tag.

Also, while these are the three materials you are most likely to run across, they are not the only materials available. Examples of other materials include:

  • Denim
  • Mineral wool
  • Wood fiber

These are not used as widely and tend to come at higher price ranges.

Location of Installation

Unless you’re building a new house, you probably have existing insulation and are likely not installing insulation everywhere. And where you are installing new insulation will have a major impact on the price you can expect to pay. 

While every house is different, we can look at some average costs for different spaces within your house:5

  • Attic – Heat rises, so if you want to ensure it doesn’t escape your home, it’s important to have a well-insulated attic. This leads many homes to have a majority of their insulation placed in the attic (as opposed to the walls of the house). It can also mean this is an expensive area for insulation.
  • Basement – Since your basement is below the ground level, you may assume that the ground provides a certain level of natural insulation. You’d be right in that assumption. This means you’ll need less insulation in this area.
  • Garage – You may not need to insulate your garage, depending on how your house is set up. However, some people may find that the extra dimes you spend on insulating the garage pay back quickly in overall energy savings.
  • Roof – Another area that might get overlooked when thinking of places to insulate is the roof. Insulating your roof can allow you to turn your attic into a more functional space. It can also be another backstop against heat loss and energy leakage.
  • Wall – Other than the attic, the wall is probably what you think of when you envision insulation. After all, you don’t want to feel a cold wind whip through your house. Wall insulation will ensure the outdoors don’t start making their way inside.

Labor Costs

Now that we’ve gone into how, what, and where of insulation, it’s time to address the question of who. Namely, who is going to be putting this insulation in?

Different jobs require a different amount of prep work and expertise. Also, different companies may charge more or less based on their reputation or the area they work in. That makes it difficult to put a direct figure on your labor costs, but it’s worth shopping around to make sure you’re getting the best rates available for your job.

DIY vs. Insulation Contractor

Of course, one way to ensure you’re getting the best possible rates on labor is to just do the job yourself. While certain insulation jobs can be DIY, it’s worth considering a few things before you start window shopping for insulation:6

    • Safety – If you’re insulating an area around the top of your house, like the attic, you need to consider your safety. You may not initially consider the difficulty of balancing on an attic joist while trying to install insulation, but you will once you find yourself in a precarious situation. In another scenario, you might not be equipped to take care of an asbestos problem, and your health might outweigh the cost to remove asbestos. For safety’s sake, the extra cost of a professional may be worth it.
    • Experience – You need to consider the complexity of the job and your own experience with DIY work before you embark on an insulation journey of your own. Do you know how to block out an intake vent? Did you know that was a thing you were supposed to do? If you aren’t sure about what you’re doing, you could cause more problems than you end up fixing.
    • Mess – This may seem trivial at first glance, but installing insulation can be a messy job. That’s especially true if you don’t know how to properly prepare for the work. You don’t want to get halfway through the job and realize you have a second job: a massive cleanup.
    • Other issues – No one wants to hire someone for insulation removal and installation and then have that person tell them they found mold under the old insulation or roof damage or that they have to get rid of rodents in the attic first. Still, it’s better that a professional spot these problems early so you can deal with them quickly. If you go the DIY route, you may miss these issues and face larger problems in the future.

Attic Construction Can Meet Your Insulation Needs

Whether you decide your insulation project is something you can handle yourself is ultimately up to you. However, at Attic Construction, we have the insulation expertise to tackle your job and get it done right the first time.

So, if you’re in the San Diego area or you have been searching around for “insulation removal near me” in Orange County, we can help. Give us a call or request an appointment. We’ll make sure you have everything you need to keep your home energy-efficient into the future.  

 

Sources: 

  1. Fixr. How Much Does It Cost to Insulate a Home? https://www.fixr.com/costs/home-insulation 
  2. Home Guide. How much does attic insulation cost? https://homeguide.com/costs/attic-insulation-cost 
  3. Energy Star. Recommended Home Insulation R–Values. https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/identify_problems_you_want_fix/diy_checks_inspections/insulation_r_values 
  4. Forbes. How Much Does Home Insulation Cost? https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/home-insulation-cost/ 
  5. Home Advisor. How Much Does Insulation Cost? https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/insulation/ 
  6. Bob Vila. How Much Does Attic Insulation Cost? https://www.bobvila.com/articles/attic-insulation-cost/ 

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Written By Joseph Sheiner

Joseph Sheiner is a construction industry professional with over 15 years of experience. He began his career in the insulation industry in 2012, and co-founded Attic Construction Inc in 2013. As CEO of the company, Joe oversees all operations and is in charge of training and product knowledge.

Under Joe’s leadership, Attic Construction has become the largest leading Attic Restoration Company in San Diego, Orange County and Phoenix. He has personally performed and supervised insulation work in over 7000 homes. He is certified by Owens Corning as a CEE (Certified Energy Expert) and is a licensed contractor by the CSLB.
Most recently, Joe has helped expand Attic Construction to two additional locations – Orange County and Phoenix. He is currently working on expanding to additional locations in the near future.

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Great work! Our attic went from totally disgusting to pristine.  They are courteous and professional and clean up after themselves.

-Karen L. Santee, CA

Andrew was very informative and helpful during the whole process. Excellent communication and his team did a great job. He came on Sunday and the work was done and completed by Tuesday. Highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a fair prices and great service.

– Joey E. San Diego, CA