Several radiant barrier squares being installed on OSB over a wall in a home

In recent years, homeowners and builders have tried shifting towards creating more sustainable and energy-efficient homes. From choosing construction materials and final touches to appliances, this drift can be seen in every home building facet. 

When weatherizing a house, the ultimate goal is to ensure the space stays as comfortable as possible throughout all seasons. Apart from central heating and cooling systems, there are numerous other ways to accomplish this goal in an energy-efficient manner, including installing radiant barriers. 

Although, insulation is usually the first thought that emerges when we consider protecting our homes from cold and other elements. But when insulation is coupled with radiant barriers, it acts as a heat shield, ultimately lowering energy costs. 

In sunny, warm states such as California, a radiant barrier can be an excellent source for you to increase savings on cooling costs. According to the US Department of Energy, installing radiant barriers into your attic space can lower cooling costs by 5-10%, while some sources claim it can even go higher.

But, you may be asking yourself, “how much does installing a radiant barrier cost?” 

If you have been thinking about installing one in your home or workspace, you certainly must also be thinking about how much it’ll cost you.

And that’s precisely why we decided to create this post. Keep scrolling to learn more about radiant barriers, from what they are to how much their installation typically costs in the US. 

How Much Does Installing a Radiant Barrier Usually Cost? 

According to HomeAdvisor, the typical range of installing radiant barrier insulation can cost anywhere between $740–$2,840. However, the average installation cost is $1,700 for the entire setup. Please note that this estimate is for a 1,500-square-foot attic performed by an expert.

More complex projects or larger areas will increase the overall cost of installation. And it is crucial to note that several factors may affect the project’s overall price, including the insulation location, size of your space, professional vs. DIY installation, quality of materials used, etc. 

What Are Radiant Barriers: Overview 

In simplest terms, radiant barriers are ‘heat blockers’ as they send back warm sun rays to where they came from. Unlike insulation, radiant barriers do not slow down the movement of heat. Instead, they prevent it from entering your house altogether. 

Many homeowners are unaware that heat conductivity causes maximum heat loss in a living space. In comparison, radiant heat is a prime heat accumulation source. 

A radiant barrier is installed above the rafters in a home's attic

It is equally important to understand radiant barriers might not really be necessary in states with cooler temperatures. And they aren’t present in every house, even in the hottest states. Nonetheless, there’s no denying they provide many benefits, especially when it comes to energy savings and comfort levels. 

If you’re wondering whether you should get radiant barriers or not, we suggest you consider the following points: 

  • During the daytime, do the rooms of your home directly under the roof get hotter?
  • Does your home receive direct sunlight most of the year?
  • Do you spend too much on energy bills in the summer months? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these points above, installing a barrier can be the best solution for your needs.

Keep reading ahead to learn the specifics of radiant barrier installation costs in the US. 

Radiant Barrier Installation Cost Breakdown 

As mentioned, the cost of installing a radiant barrier in your attic space will vary from one home to another, based on the way you plan on installing it.

However, be sure to consider the following elements when you’re seeking an accurate installation cost estimate for your home:

  • Material quality and cost
  • Size of area
  • Professional vs. DIY installation

Material Quality and Costs

Like any other product, radiant barriers come in multiple varieties with different quality levels. The superior the quality, the higher the price and vice versa. Materials for the project can run as low as $0.10 per square foot, increasing to $0.95 per square foot.

The cheapest among these varieties are ‘one-sided radiant barriers.’ As the name indicates, one-sided or single-sided barriers are only reflective on one side. Moreover, they tend to tear easily. 

A diagram displaying a radiant barrier sheathing application
Radiant barrier sheathing can be considered a ‘single-sided’ barrier. Courtesy of Fine Homebuilding.

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of one-sided barriers ranges from $0.10 to $0.25 per square foot.

On the other end, more expensive types, such as double-sided barriers, offer superior durability. They are considerably easier to install but come with a higher price tag. Double-sided radiant barriers are thus more expensive than single-sided ones and can cost up to $0.90 per square foot on average. 

Superb quality barrier materials are recommended, particularly if you plan to install the barrier yourself. 

Keep in mind that low-quality or cheaper materials will not be able to hold a staple as effectively as higher quality material. Moreover, they are also less effective at blocking heat. 

Size of Area 

Remember that the installation of radiant barriers is generally measured in square feet and usually comprises the lining of your entire attic space to generate meaningful energy savings. 

Therefore, if you wish to experience a significant reduction in your cooling costs and reap maximum benefits from a reflective barrier, make sure to cover the surface area of your whole attic.

An attic with the interior of the roof partially-covered with a radiant barrier
Courtesy of Attic Masters

You can estimate the price of materials for casing the surface area of your home attic with radiant barriers by multiplying the cost of a square foot of barrier materials purchased by the total surface area you intend to cover.

In addition, when calculating this cost, you may also have to consider other factors. For example, several older homes have Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment or ductwork.

For such homes, the savings on cooling costs acquired via radiant barrier installation can be the highest. However, all this added equipment must also be enclosed to reap maximum benefits.

Professional vs. DIY installation

Homeowners who install radiant barriers themselves are indeed saved from installation charges. However, trying your luck at a DIY project comes with its own set of risks. Moreover, barriers need to be installed properly to reach their maximum potential. 

A homeowner installing a radiant barrier in his attic with a staple gun
Courtesy of The Tennessee Magazine

On the other hand, hiring a professional for radiant barrier installation will add to your overall costs. Nonetheless, it is a recommended expense since it can prevent hidden costs, such as ceiling repair, hospital bills, and reducing R-values of existing insulation.

According to HomeAdvisor, professional radiant barrier installers charge between $30 to $80 per hour.  

However, in case you decide to do a DIY radiant barrier installation, be sure to consider the following points: 

  • Be cautious around electrical work – you do not want to add costs to your radiant barrier budget. Therefore, when installing a radiant barrier, be extremely careful, especially when stapling around junction boxes and electrical wires.
  • Avoid compressing current insulation – during radiant barrier installation, compressing existing attic insulation can increase rather than decrease energy bills. Since attic insulation relies on thickness to work effectively, flattening prevailing insulation can lower its resistance value.
  • Wear protective gear – existing insulation can lead to skin and lung irritations when handled without care. Therefore, before starting your DIY project, ensure you get the proper protective gear for yourself, including clothes, breathing gear, and eye protection.

These three factors can determine the type of savings you’ll receive in the short term and in the long run.

Closing Note

Although cutting costs as much as possible early on may be appealing, utilizing poor-quality materials or inadequately installing radiant barriers can lower returns on energy savings and take up a significant chunk of your time in the process. 

Remember, radiant barriers do more than merely cooling down your home. They are an investment on which you’d want solid returns. Therefore, choose the best methods to keep costs low and enjoy the maximum benefit in the long term.

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