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What is Insulation?

Important Things to Know About Insulation for Your Home

Insulation is a barrier between the inside of your home and the surrounding environment. It’s a material designed to keep your home at a comfortable temperature by reducing heat loss and heat gain. In layman’s terms, it helps to keep your home cool in hot weather and warm in cool weather.

When combined with Modern’s energy-efficient vinyl windows , insulation can provide a noticeable drop in energy bills. Professionally installed insulating materials provide protection against fire in walls and ceilings, improved indoor air quality and improved noise control.

What is Insulation Made Of?

There are a few different types of insulation: Cellulose, Fiberglass, Spray Foam and Injection Foam. These all offer their own strengths.


Made of up to 85% recycled paper fiber (used newspapers) and fire retardant such as ammonium sulfate or boric acid. This can be used as loose fill or blown in, which is great for closed or new open walls (think renovations) or unfinished attic flooring.


Fiberglass insulation is made of plastic that is strengthened by tiny glass fibers. It comes in rolls and batts that can be cut to size. It’s most commonly fitted between the beams, joists and studs of attics, ceilings, flooring and walls. Fiberglass batt can be cut to size using proper PPE (long pants, sleeves, work gloves, safety glasses and a dust mask.) Lay a 2x4 piece of lumber and compress the batt, then slice in one motion using a utility knife.

Injection Foam Insulation

Made from a dry powder resin that is mixed with water and a foaming agent, it’s the consistency of shaving cream when wet. Injection foam expands and fills open areas where it’s inefficient to place cellulose or fiberglass.

Spray Foam Insulation

Made up of organic compounds from petroleum extracts. Like injection foam, it’s the consistency of shaving cream when wet. It’s ideal for tight spaces like those between pipes and wiring.

What Is the Best Type of Insulation?

Because it depends on where the insulation will be used, there’s no hard and fast answer to this question.

Instead, we look at the R value, which is the measurement of the thermal resistance of the insulating product. The R value is also determined by the thickness of the material. Generally, the higher the R value, the better the thermal resistance. The R value also depends on the materials used. Cellulose insulation of the same thickness will carry a different R value than fiberglass.

As mentioned above, for smaller, trickier areas, spray or injection foam are most used, cellulose is great for larger spaces like attics, which could benefit from additional insulation. Fiberglass batting is ideal for surfaces like ceilings, flooring and walls.

Of course, just because there's a high R value, doesn’t mean it’s the best across the board. The R value you need is also going to depend on the climate and where it will be used. Here on the West Coast, we have a mild climate, with temperatures that don’t often drop below -10˚C. According to Better Homes BC, R40 is a good choice. R40 is now the minimum requirement for new homes built to code in Southern Vancouver Island.

How Much Insulation Do I Need?

Attic insulation should be at least 12” thick, or even up to 20” if your home tends to be on the chillier side or you’re noticing a lot of temperature fluctuations. The amount used for flooring and walls will depend on how much is needed to cover top to bottom, while still wrapping around ductwork, electrical boxes, plumbing and wiring.

The best way to know exactly how much you need is to talk to a pro. Our team at Modern Windows are experts and can help you figure out the ideal thickness and quantity for your home. We base this information on the ideal R value, the square footage, the type needed and other factors that vary with each home. Whether your existing home has insufficient insulation, you’re building new or are renovating, we’re happy to recommend and install the ideal insulating products for your home.

When Do I Use a Vapour Barrier with Insulation?

It’s important to know when and where to install vapour barrier to avoid any issues with condensation. The location of the wall, the type of vapour barrier and the climate are all important factors. Because we’re in such a humid climate, vapour barrier should be used. We can help you with where and when to install vapour barrier. Opt for a semi-permeable coating like a smart vapour retarder, which can adapt to changes in relative humidity. 


Today’s highly efficient insulation materials and methods can make your home as comfortable as possible with greater energy efficiency. For your existing home, renovation, or new build, trust our experts to choose and install the ideal combination of insulating materials for your home. We serve customers all over Vancouver Island, Powell River, the Sunshine Coast and Greater Vancouver. Do you have questions about insulation? Contact Modern Windows for more information to get started on your home improvement project today.

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