A roll of vinyl-faced insulation

If you’ve read our No-Nonsense & Comfy Ultimate Guide to Home Insulation, you may recall that there are many insulation options for homes.

Materials and types range from rigid foam boards to loose-fill cellulose and incorporate blanket types that may be faced or unfaced. Facing materials also differ, with the most common being kraft paper, aluminum foil, and vinyl. 

What Is Vinyl-Faced Insulation?

When vinyl is used as a facing material on insulation, it is often to improve the capacity of fiberglass blanket insulation. It acts as a protective cover, a vapor retardant, and an air and moisture barrier. It isn’t commonly used but can be an excellent insulation solution for metal buildings.

Vinyl-faced insulation has many advantages, but only in certain circumstances and depending on the application. Pricing varies, depending primarily on quality, thickness, and R-values.

Let’s dive in and take a closer look.  

How is Faced Insulation Different from Unfaced Insulation?

The intrinsic difference between faced and unfaced insulation is that the faced type has an additional layer that blocks moisture. Therefore, it can also improve the R-value of the insulation.

A roll of vinyl-faced insulation
Courtesy of Lowe’s

We’ve talked about R-values in the article, Types of Energy Efficient Wall Construction, and mentioned that it is the measure we use to determine the thermal resistance of insulation to heat transfer. 

The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation will be. Your International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) climate zone and the part of your home you are insulating will determine the R-value

We didn’t distinguish between faced and unfaced insulation in the guide or the article mentioned above, so let’s have a quick look at their differences. 

Faced insulation is a straightforward concept involving manufacturers attaching a facing material to various types of blanket insulation. Vinyl facing is usually either black or white, and it is laminated to the fiberglass blanket.   

It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that most types of insulation are unfaced and that this is because it isn’t possible to put facing on types like loose-fill, rockwool, spray foam, or even some other forms of fiberglass.

After all, insulation manufacturers need a solid surface to apply the facing material to. But, blanket insulation types may also be unfaced. 

Un-faced fiberglass batt insulation
These mineral wool batts are an example of un-faced insulation.

The benefit of faced insulation, in general, is that it has a vapor barrier or retarder that will help to stop moisture from moving through the insulation.

Some facings can even help to stabilize the R-value of the insulation. They also make it easier to handle the insulation and install it. 

As we have already said, vinyl is just one of several faced-insulation options. So, let’s explore the best applications for vinyl-faced insulation.

Best Applications for Vinyl-Faced Insulation

Generally, faced insulation is excellent in cathedral ceilings and in rooms where you need to prevent a downward heat flow.

Radiant barriers are great for the latter. They are also a good choice in spaces that need insulation to have a fire rating. But of course, this will depend on the insulation’s flame resistance

If you’re adding a new insulation material over an old one, it’s best not to use any faced insulation. The caveat is that there is a genuine danger that the facing material will trap moisture, which is especially important in attic spaces. 

If insulation is already in place in your attic, if it has a facing, it should be against the attic drywall floor. But in general, facing insulation isn’t recommended for attics. 

More specifically, vinyl-faced insulation tends to be used for industrial and commercial buildings constructed from metal rather than residential applications. In fact, vinyl-faced insulation is the most common insulation used in metal buildings. 

It is ideal for anything from warehouses to manufacturing facilities made of metal. 

If you want to use it for a different application, consult with an experienced designer who has a thorough knowledge of all insulation types. 

Pros and Cons of Vinyl-Faced Insulation

So, what makes vinyl a suitable insulation material? 

  • It’s a robust and durable material
  • It’s affordable
  • It’s generally easier to install
  • It is resistant to both moisture and humidity
  • It’s eco-friendly and can be recycled when it’s no longer needed

When wouldn’t it be a good choice?

  • If you are doing a revamp and want to add new insulation over what is already there.
  • Vinyl facing may not be approved as an insulation material in your city or state.

Advantages of Vinyl-Faced Insulation

If it’s the right choice for the building you are going to insulate, the pros are numerous. Here are some other advantages apart from it being easy to install.

Lower Energy Bills

Vinyl-faced insulation will help to keep the cooled or heated air inside, preventing energy loss and resulting in lower utility costs. 

Better HVAC System Performance

Of course, it isn’t only vinyl-face insulation that will do this, but if it helps your building to retain conditioned air more efficiently, your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems will definitely perform better. 

Increased Indoor Comfort

A primary aim of sound insulation is to increase comfort levels within your home. Correctly used vinyl-faced insulation will ensure that temperatures are more consistent and there are fewer drafts. The temperature control is particularly significant in metal buildings. 

Less Noise Transfer 

Vinyl-faced insulation provides an ideal sound barrier wherever it is used. It has been proven to prevent noise from coming inside and leaving the building! It is also an excellent insulator for preventing noise between noise inside a building. 

Reduced Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint is a biggie in the commercial world, where metal buildings are the norm. Vinyl-faced insulation is an excellent product for improving the efficiency of buildings, decreasing energy usage, and lowering the strain you place on the environment. 

Costs of Vinyl-Faced Insulation

Whatever type of insulation you are pricing, expect there to be differences. These will be driven by quality, the R-value offered, and the thickness of the insulation product.

Of course, it also depends on whether you are buying a DIY product that you can install yourself or looking for an installer to supply and fit the insulation for you.

Generally, it’s best to hire a professional. If you don’t, your insulation investment may be compromised. 

We always work with professionals and always get a detailed quotation based on requirements. But to get a quick indication of pricing relating to vinyl-faced insulation, which we hadn’t used before, we had a look online to see what could be found. 

Amazon doesn’t have much available right now other than vinyl-faced pipe-wrap and an Owens Corning Garage Door R-8 Insulation Kit selling for $108.64 for 8 x 22 x 54-inch panels.  

There are lots available from Alibaba, though it’s impossible to assess quality, and many products don’t specify the R-value of the product offered. Here are a few examples:

  • R1.8 vinyl-faced fiberglass blanket insulation from $0.04-$1.50 per square meter. The minimum order is 500 square meters. 
  • 1.5-inch vinyl-faced fiberglass insulation costs $0.56-$0.60 per ton, which must be ordered by the ton. 
  • Rolls of vinyl-faced fiberglass insulation wrap-rolls from $3-$10 per roll if you order at least 50 rolls. 
  • Vinyl-faced slab-glass wool (fiberglass) insulation costs $0.10-$5 per square meter for at least 1,000 square meters. 
  • Fireplace glass wool insulation blanket rolls of vinyl-faced fiberglass cost $10-$30 for at least 100 square meters. 
  • White vinyl-faced fiberglass roofing insulation that is also soundproof. $2-$6 per square meter with a minimum 3,000 square meter order. 
  • White vinyl-faced fiberglass roofing insulation for $18 per roll, minimum 500 rolls. 
  • Fireproof vinyl-faced fiberglass insulation blanket for $8-$15 per piece for 1,000 pieces (size not specified).

These price differences show how important it is to ascertain exactly what you are getting in terms of quality and R-value. It also hints at the importance of finding out what installation product your installer will use.

The U.S. Department of Energy, on its Energy Saver website, points out that there are some types of insulation that homeowners can install themselves, including boards and blankets, which may or may not be vinyl-faced. However, the agency’s advice is to always get written quotes for several contractors.

Ask for R-values to be specified and what air-sealing services will cost. Also, find out what previous experience they have. I’d suggest getting verifiable references from previous clients as well. 

Summing It All Up

Vinyl-faced insulation is hugely effective, though primarily used for metal buildings. It has many advantages but may not be preferred for other building structures because other options are more commonly used. 

The Energy Saver website skims the benefits of vinyl-faced insulation but points out that it is often available in the form of blanket insulation. 

It’s undoubtedly cost-effective and energy-efficient, and it’s an option that is worth considering.

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