What Is Insulation R-Value?

In short, R-Value is a measurement of how much resistance there is to the flow of heat. The term is assigned to insulation to help decode how effective it is. The higher the R-value, the better it insulates per inch of thickness.

So how much is enough?

The amount of insulation recommended for your home is dependent on where you live. The colder the climate, the thicker you want your insulation to be. Here are some general guidelines though.

  • ATTIC: Houses in a cold climate should have a minimum of R-49 in the attic, which is equivalent to approximately 16″ of fiberglass insulation. Warmer climates only require an R-38 or higher, or about 12″ or more.
  • WALL: Wall insulation is largely determined by the width of the wall studs. That said, different materials provide higher or lower R-values. Fiberglass batting (the pink stuff) for standard 2×4 walls are available from R-11 to R-15. Polyurethane spray foam insulation in an identical wall cavity can range from an R-14 to R-28 depending on the foam used.
  • FLOOR: The United States Department of Energy recommends an R-25 rating in cold climates and an R-11 in warmer parts of the country.

Insulation TypesThe above chart is a good comparison of different insulation types and their general R-Value. The R-value of course, varies depending on the brand and installation process. To find out more including the types of insulation and the recommended types to be installed per region, visit the Department of Energy website.

Does R-Value leave you scratching your head? Leave your questions and/or comments in the comment section below. You can always visit our Facebook page to ask questions directly or keep up with our helpful tiny house tips.


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