Basement insulation not only helps maintain favorable temperature conditions but also helps block noise transmission from the outside to inside and vice versa. In the modern world, especially the 21st century, the once never loved space (the basement) has transformed into a must-have and most important room in the house. Podcasters have converted their basements to a place where they make their recording. Writers are now using the basements to come up with creative and stories.
Soundproofing the basement will not only minimize outside distractions but will also prevent you from becoming a noise nuisance to the outside world- especially if you’ve converted your basement to a home theater. This guide will share some of the best insulation for the basement ceiling you can use today.
Understanding Basement Insulation Materials
If your final end goal for insulating the basement is to get improved heat control, you should pick a higher R-Value material. The R-Value in insulation means the temperature difference per single unit of heat flux needed to sustain one unit of heat flux btwn colder and warmer surface of a barrier. (Source)
If you also want a material that will help minimize sound transmission, you should consider other ratings such as NRC and STC ratings . NRC is the Noise Reduction Coefficient and how well a material absorbs sound at standard speech frequencies.
On the other hand, STC, aka Sound Transmission Class, measures how well a material reduces sound transmission. The higher the number of STC or NRC, the more effective the material is.
Below is a table that illustrates the R, NRC, and STC values of the different insulation materials available on the market today.
|Material||R-Value per “||NRC Rating||STC Value
|Fiberglass (Batts)||3.1-3.4||0.90 and 0.95||39|
|Fiberglass Blown||2.2-4.3||0.50 to 0.95||39|
|Mineral Wool||3.1-3.4||1.05||45 and 52|
|Spray Foam Insulation||3.6-3.9||0.70 at 76.2mm thickness||39|
|Foam Board Insulation||3.6-8.0||0.85 and 1.05||37|
|Cellulose Insulation||3.2 – 3.8||0.8 and 0.9||44 to 68|
|Sound Blanket (Audimute)||4.75 per inch||0.7 – 0.8||25|
Spray foam and foam board insulation are the best materials when it comes to insulating your basement. However, these two materials have a lower STC and NRC rating than mineral wool insulation. For this reason, it’d be wise to say that the two provide superior insulation, but mineral wool insulation provides a balance between thermal insulation and soundproofing.
Basement Ceiling Insulation Pros and Cons
Basement ceiling insulation comes with a lot of benefits as well as a share of shortcomings. The benefits include improved soundproofing, temperature control, and enhanced comfort. Insulation also ensures that you are in line with the local construction ordinances.
- Insulating the basement will help reduce stomping noises from those living above you. This way, you won’t annoy your neighbors.
Additionally, insulation helps maintain a cooler climate when the outside environment is hot and a hotter climate when the outside environment is cold. This significantly helps lower your energy bills in the long run.
Depending on the state or country you come from, insulating the basement could be a requirement by the building codes.
Because insulation helps get rid of moisture and humid air in the basement space, insulating the ceiling and entire basement will deter the growth of mold and bacteria, hence keeping out allergens.
On the downside, you incur massive costs when insulating the basement, especially when a professional is involved in the process. There’s a loss of space due to adding insulation materials to the ceiling. You lose some height in the basement, especially when fiberglass is involved. Lastly, this process also interferes with airflow in the basement. For this reason, it’s always recommended you sort the ventilation first before insulating.
How To Install Insulation In Basement Ceiling
Insulating your ceiling is an important part of building that helps add a layer of insulation that helps improve its energy efficiency. Below is a video that will help you understand the best method to install insulation in the basement ceiling.
Should You Insulate Your Basement Ceiling?
One of the main reasons you should insulate your basement ceiling is to add a barrier between the main floor and the lower level. Probably you have a home theater, drum room, recording studio down there, and you don’t want to be a noise nuisance to those living upstairs. Another reason is that you could be having an office or a room that needs privacy.
Another reason would be to prevent cold air from making its way to the floor above. You could also be preventing moisture from leaking into the floor directly above the basement.
What Type of Insulation Is Best for Basement Ceilings?
For homeowners looking to get the most out of their insulation project, there is one product that will with no doubt thermally protect your home but also prevent noise transmission- and the product is mineral wool insulation. Mineral wool is fiber-based loose-fill insulation. The product closely resembles fiberglass insulation, with the only exception being that it’s denser and stiffer than fiberglass. There are two types of mineral wools, the first is made from stone fibers such as molten diabase or basalt. This type of mineral wool is sourced from volcanic rocks that were melted at 1600degrees Celsius.
The second type of mineral wool insulation is made from the waste that remains during steel production. The two types of mineral wools are sold in loose-fill and batts and are used for insulating walls, floors, attics, and roofs.
How To Cover Insulation in Basement Ceiling
Some states have it in their building codes that any home insulation should be covered. However, some states have an exception for this; for example, in Tampa, you won’t be breaking the law if you leave existing fiberglass insulation. This is because as long as the installed insulation remains undisturbed. That means if you are only insulating your basement or attic for storage-only purposes, then you can leave the insulation uncovered. (Source)
Below is a general overview of how to cover insulation in the basement ceiling. However, you must choose a permeable barrier to prevent moisture from being trapped inside. Below are the suggestions for covering exposed mineral wool or fiberglass insulation.
- Seal the ceiling by stappling a poly membrane sheet over the insulation.
- Install sheetrock/drywall over the insulation when insulating the walls
- In the case of a floor cover, the insulation with plywood flooring
- You should always work with an expert to ensure that health and safety standards are followed.
The 7 Best Insulation for Basement Ceiling
1. Basement Fiberglass Insulation
Fiberglass is a type of insulation that originates from tiny glass fibers. Moreover, you can install it to insulate walls as well as crawl the spaces. As you complete the installation, there will be a reduction of noise within rooms and external areas.
- It improves the overall comfort of building or house for years.
- Fiberglass installation is part of a DIY project.
- It enhances the performance of the HVAC equipment.
- The holding of condensation creates dampness to cause molds.
- It releases particles in the air, which are harmful if inhaled.
- The permeable air batt allows the entry of humid air resulting in moisture and condensation.
2. Basement Spray Foam Insulation
The spray foam usually comes from polyurethane. It best works when applied wet. The substance will later expand to form a thick foam. Indeed, the foam can fit crevices, gaps, and wall cavities.
Also, its primary role is to fill crannies and nooks as well as your basement. Since the spray foam is energy-efficient, you can correctly use it as an air sealing solution. Therefore your basement will stop the outside air from accessing the interiors of the building.
You can best install this type of insulation in hard-to-reach places. It gets better when you perform the insulation around the wiring and piping.
- Eliminates mildew or mold growth because it retains no water.
- Your floorboard will experience fewer drafts since the seal prevents the outside air from accessing the room.
- The foam boasts of excellent sound absorption properties hence promoting a quiet environment.
- The spray foam insulation is costly.
- When improperly installed, it can cause future discomfort.
3. Basement Foam Board Insulation
You will never go wrong by considering the use of a basement foam insulation. Interestingly, this type of insulation can fit on any part of your house, ranging from the bottom to the top.
Constructed from top-quality materials, the product will serve you for an extended period.
The most commonly used materials are:
- Consists of tough foams that will resist water to prevent the growth of mildew or molds.
- Proper installation of the foam board will cause the rigid material to keep off the entry of air.
- It serves for a long duration without replacement or maintenance, unlike the cellulose and fiberglass.
- Inappropriate taping on the joints between the boards and the sheet can cause the air to penetrate your building.
- The presence of air bubbles within polystyrene may accumulate moisture, reducing its effectiveness.
- The cutting of the foam board must be perfect. If cut incorrectly, it can lead to air leakage.
4. Cellulose insulation
The cellulose proves to be loose-fill insulation that exists in two main parts; either dry or wet — constructed from a recycled paper primarily from newspapers with other papers or cardboard.
The entire cellulose option is environmentally-friendly since it comes from a recycled source. Furthermore, it undergoes treatment before you use it for insulation. The wet option is always damp when spraying it into the cavity.
- It efficiently utilizes the hips of discarded cardboard and paper dumped by paper-oriented society.
- It is safe as it resists molds and insects. The inclusion of boric acid helps in increasing the level of fire resistance.
- It’s R-value (R-3.2/inch) is better than that of regular fiberglass, which has R-2.2/inch.
- They are treated with the acrylic binder to enhance the installation, thereby avoiding future R-value decrease.
- It has fewer health risks when compared to fiberglass.
- The cellulose product is ever affordable.
- The cost of installation is high.
- You need a certified breathing mask when installing cellulose as it produces a large junk of dust.
- The insulation quickly absorbs moisture to compromise the longtime efficiency.
- It encounters a gradual decrease in R-Value since dry-blown cellulose usually sags and settles.
- A vapor barrier is a must whenever you use both dry and wet blown.
5. Mineral Wool Insulation
Unlike fiberglass insulation, mineral wool insulation uses natural materials instead of glass. Remarkably, mineral wool exists in two types. Firstly, there is a ball of rock wool that includes fibers of natural stones like diabase of basalt.
The second type is a ball of slag wool with fibers that originate from iron-ore wastes. Traders sell it as loose-fill or as batts. Most of the homes in Europe and North America use this type of insulation.
- It naturally resists water while maintaining its insulation qualities even while wet.
- Blocks sound by a wide margin to reduce acoustic invasion.
- It resists fire as it can only burn when exposed to temperatures that are beyond 1000 degrees.
- Requires protective clothing during the installation process to prevent the inhalation of tiny silvers.
- The inhaled particles cause alveoli irritation leading to lung complications like cancer and cell mutation.
- The insulated concrete performs poorly in cold climates.
- Heat may also pass through an insulated concrete.
6. Audimute Sound Absorption Sheet Sound
Typically, blanket batts and rolls come from mineral wool, fiberglass, natural and plastic fibers. It generally lacks facing, but a Kraft paper facing may act as a vapor barrier.
You can use blanket insulation in places like unfinished walls, ceilings, and floors. Its thickness will determine the R-value.
- The materials used are readily available and, therefore, cheaper.
- Easy to install in a house that has less small crevices.
- It achieves noise reduction from outside and between different rooms.
- It is energy-efficient if properly installed.
- Less durable as compared to other materials.
- Its R-Value of R-2.9 and R-3.8 per inch in thickness is inappropriate. You may need an additional 10-12 inches of insulation to get correct insulation.
Best Insulation for Basement Ceiling Buyer Guide
Insulation plays a critical role in the overall comfort of your home. It will absorb the sound and unwanted noise from audio and other devices. Furthermore, it controls the moisture. You should consider the following factors while purchasing your insulation material:
Type of Insulation
Before you select your insulation material, determine where you will be installing it. Each installation type will fit a specific area of your building and provide an excellent service.
For instance, spray foam will work well where the wire or pipe enters the house. Also, a rigid foam board will work best when installed between joists that are above your basement.
The R-value of the insulation material will determine the type of task the product will perform. Meanwhile, an R-value of R49 to 60 may suits an attic in some places. One the other hand, R13-R15 can work well on 2 by 4 walls.(Source)
Humid areas transfer moisture along with heat. Whenever the humidity accumulates on the insulation, molds and mildews may appear. In this case, you require the vapor barrier to prevent moisture from condensing in the insulated areas.
Suppose you live in cold climates, you may need a vapor barrier between the insulation and the home’s interior.
The quality of the material will affect the price of the product. Some available materials, like recycled paper, prove to be cheap. Next, other insulation types like spray foam may have slightly higher rates.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Insulation Should I Use for My Basement?
Use mineral wool insulation for basement ceiling and spray foam for basement walls and floors. Closed-cell spray foam is the perfect product for preventing water vapor from transferring through the basement walls and floors to the finished basement rooms.
When finishing a basement, should you insulate the ceiling?
Yes. When finishing a basement, you should insulate the ceiling, especially if you intend to use the basement as a special room such as an office, movie room, or man cave. However, you can leave it unfinished, especially if you don’t intend to use the basement in the future.
Roxul 40260 Insulation
Compared to fiberglass, mineral wool is more expensive and less popular. However, this material is highly temperature resistant and doesn’t retain any moisture. This material has a superior R-rating of about 4 per inch and can be nicely layered and modified according to your specific requirements. One of the advantages of using Roxul mineral wool is that it’s incredibly heat resistant and doesn’t burn even when exposed to high temperatures. The product also uses natural materials compared to fiberglass.
On the downside, Roxul is relatively expensive and does require protective clothing during installation as the particles are allergens and could irritate your lungs, throat, and skin.
In conclusion, Your residence ought to be a comfortable place. You can improve the status by using insulation to absorb sound, prevent moisture, and combat any cold that may come along. Still, you should insulate the basement to seal off the air.
Lastly, information in this article sheds more light on best insulation for basement ceiling and before you settle for a specific type, it will be wise to understand your needs.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.