There are several reasons why we don't install Radiant Barrier products under your roof decking. This is a service we get many requests for. Below are some of the reasons why we came to this decision. We will also provide links to some information below. We founded our company based on one simple principle. To provide the very best quality service and quality products. Anything less is not acceptable.
Possible higher fire risk
We wanted to share some information that has been a buzz for a while in the insulation community. Lightning caused fires and a possible connection to Radiant Barrier. We are starting to see law suits filed by insurance companies attempting to recover property losses attributed to this. There is some debate in the insulation community if this is a real problem. The claim is that Radiant Barrier sheathing secured to the underside of a roof can cause electricity to travel through the structure when the home is struck by lightning or comes in contact with a power source. Some believe this material on the underside of the roof may even attract lightning. I have found that the people who debunk this are usually selling the product. There has been testimony by fire marshals, insurance adjusters, engineers, and contractors that believe this could be a real threat. We should not believe everything we hear or read so do your own research.
How can Radiant Barrier be used effectively?
We get asked all the time if we install Radiant Barrier. The answer is yes and no.
We only install Radiant Barrier wrap on vertical walls in attics. This is any interior wall that faces or extends up into the attic. This is commonly found on cathedral ceilings and often referred to as a knee wall. The other wall is when a multi story home has an interior wall that is surrounded by the attic or opens into the attic. Wrapping these walls with a good quality Radiant Barrier wrap helps a great deal to protect these rooms against heat infiltration. this wrap also keeps loose fitting insulation from falling off the wall over time. These walls are usually only 4 inches thick and could use all the help we can give them. Because the wall is vertical we see very little to no dust accumulation over time. We perform this service regularly and have found no information that leads to any question of a possible hazard caused by this protective barrier when installed properly..
Types of Radiant Barrier products
There are 3 basic types of Radiant Barrier product.
1. Radiant Barrier OSB Roof Decking
This roof decking already has the Radiant Barrier material adhered to the surface and by all accounts seems to be the most effective and safest of the different types available. With that said it requires a new roof or must be installed when the home is built.
2. A paint product mixed with aluminum particulates for which there are many brands. Many of the painted on Radiant Barrier products have shown to be little more effective than paint.
3. Radiant Barrier sheathing that is stapled to the underside of the roof rafters. This Radiant Barrier comes in several different configurations but the principle is the same. The recommended method of installation is to staple it to the bottom of the roof truss just below the decking. This product has been proven to reflect some heat away from the attic however we must remember it is installed in a dusty old attic. As dust settles on the Radiant Barrier it will over time loose it's reflective ability and reduce performance.
Study's have shown that Radiant Barriers are most effective when the insulation is poor. The dept. of energy and other research basically says if your insulation stinks than this can help. The problem is that Radiant Barrier cost much more than insulation. Most tests have shown that the cooling costs in the summer have been reduced only very slightly with just radiant barrier. For this reason most contractors that install radiant barrier insist on adding insulation as well.
So as a home owner and a contractor we must make a decision about what products we use to improve our home and what products we sell to our customers.
For those looking to have Radiant Barrier installed into your home this is what I think. The utility companies no longer give rebates for this product. Why not? We know the return on investment is not as good in comparison to plain ole insulation. When Radiant Barrier foil gets dusty over time it will loose it's reflective ability and no longer provide the same protection. It is also very expensive.
The answer? Insulation, Insulation, Insulation. Protect your home from the hot attic with good insulation and maybe additional ventilation. If your living space is protected, then a hot attic is not a big deal. Radiant Barrier was a great money making fad for a number of years. I have been around this industry for a long time and I believe Radiant Barrier on the bottom of the roof is a waist of money and maybe worse.
This is my 2 cents worth and I would recommend everyone interested in Radiant Barrier do their own research. After all, Its your home.
Radiant Barrier wall wrap on attic wall.
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If you have any questions about the information provided on this page or would like more insight into my opinion, feel free to give me a call.
As stated above we do install radiant barrier protection on walls where it is effective but we do not believe it is worth the investment to use the painted or stapled material on the bottom of the roof.
PATRICK HARRISON 210-325-5429
Why we don't install Radiant
Barrier under roofs