Insulating Your Home

There are many needs for house insulation to help keep out moisture, drafts, dust, and insects. Because each house is built with various building materials that expand or contract at their own rates and with differences in weather, a house is very likely to have cracks or gaps where any two different materials meet in the building structure.

Ask any Sutherlands helpful employee about options and products for your individual insulation project or e-mail us your needs and questions. We'll get back to you as quickly as we can. This Project Plan will cover only basic coverage information with minimal details. Emphasis will be on attic insulation since that is where the most heat is lost.

A well-insulated and weather-stripped home is comfortable at 65 degrees inside during the winter. If your home is poorly insulated, it will need a temperature at least three degrees higher for the same level of comfort. This amounts to the wasted energy resources and your wasted dollars, especially over many years. Some real estate research indicates that upgrading attic insulation can give "do it yourselfers" much more than one hundred percent return on their investment.


Insulation with correct R Values, tape measure, razor knife, straightedge board, foil-faced tape, hammer, mallet, chisel, putty knife (or wide bladed tool), shears, sander or planer, caulking gun, staple gun and staples, screwdriver, nails, tacks, screws, caulk sealant, duct tape, polybutane cord or rope, turpentine, stiff brush, work light (suggest light with hook that can be hung on a nail and/or a flexible Black & Decker snake light that can be wrapped around a convenient rafter), stepladder, broom. You'll probably also need some pieces of cardboard to use as thickness measurements.

Wear safety glasses, gloves and a respirator when working with insulation.  A safety helmet may also be helpful when working in close, cramped spaces such as an attic. Sutherlands has a large choice of safety equipment items.


Your doors and windows probably have air leakage, with doors being the biggest culprit. Weather stripping the cracks around these doors and windows can help reduce your heating and air conditioning costs perhaps as much as thirty per cent. Storm windows and storm doors are suggested.

Once you have determined which windows and doors are critical to insulate, you'll have several materials to chose from to correct the leakage including metal, felt, rubber, vinyl, or plastic foam. These come pre-packaged with nails or screws at all Sutherlands Locations.

Weather stripping is to be installed with the resilient part sealing out the air by pressing against the window or the door. Don't make them too tight that the window or door won't operate correctly. You may have to adjust the door to hang straight before you begin the weather stripping by adjusting the hinges and then sanding or planing the edges until the doors can open and close smoothly.

You need Insulation at the location that separates any living space from unheated areas because that's where heat loss happens and also where the sun's heat comes in during the summer months.

Heat rises and therefore is lost through the roof. The floor of an unfinished attic and the roof above a finished attic are examples of critical insulating areas. See Attic Insulation below.

Door weather stripping includes adhesive backed foam, plastic tubing, foam-edged wood, and V-strips. The V-strip is probably the most popular for "do-it-yourselfers." It's a doubled over strip of springy metal and fits between the door edge and jamb. Some others will attach to the door frame so it presses against the door when it's closed.

The bottom of the door crack is usually creating the strongest leakage. Various door bottom seals include plain sweep, bottom sweep, threshold weather strip, spring-operated sweep, and garage door strip.

Use caulk, preferably with a caulking gun for larger jobs, to seal cracks around water faucets, doors, windows, tubs, sinks, basement walls, glass windowpanes.


All house insulation is based on a rating system termed R-Values factor. (R is for Resistance.) The higher the R-Values, the more insulation quality of the product.

Before you purchase insulation, know the minimum that is needed for your regional zone. The colder your area, the larger the number will be. Check with your closest Sutherlands Location for your particular area's recommended R-Values numbers for ceilings below ventilated attics, crawl spaces, exterior walls, and crawl space walls. A zoned map with the recommendations are within the Creative Homeowner booklet #86.

Insulating materials consist of tiny pockets of trapped air with the most common made of fibers of glass, rock-wool, blown steam through molten rock, or cellulose or plant fibers. They are packaged in long rolls (called blankets) or pre-cut flexible rectangular sections (called batts). Fibers can also be used as loose-fill insulation that is poured or blown into attics or into hollow walls.

Sutherlands offers Certainteed or Owens-Corning insulation in blankets and batts as well as loose cellulose insulation that can be blown into attics or unfinished wall spaces. Owens-Corning's Pink Fiberglas is America's most prefered brand of insulation. It's factory engineered to insure the best thermal and sound control performance available. The color PINK is a registered trademark of Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation.

Don't seal your attic space completely. The correct insulation must be combined with adequate ventilation to be most effective. Insulation should not block the flow of air from eaves' vents. For best results, install ventilation baffles at the inside of the eaves.

Attic condensation is pretty common in cold regions during the winter. When warm moisture from the living spaces below the attic rises to the roof and meets the cold outside air, condensation forms. If it is severe, this moisture can cause rotting of the sheathing and framing. Wood roofs are not as susceptible because the moisture escapes easier.

Asphalt roofs don't have the same natural air flow so moisture can become trapped and become a huge problem. Attics must be ventilated if they are going to be insulated. *(You might want to ask for FREE Creative Homeowner Press How-To Booklet #78 "Venting Attics" at the same time you ask for #86.

Blankets: Rolls in thickness of one to seven inches with sixteen to sixty-four feet. The width is made for a snug fit between standard stud spacings. There are usually thin marginal strips, (flanges) for stapling and a vapor barrier of paper or foil. They can be difficult to cut so it's best for long areas of unobstructed space such as floor joists or an unfinished attic or roof rafter spacing.

Batts: Simply short blankets, cut into uniform lengths for easier handling. Cut ends of batts to fit snugly around cross bracing. If a second layer is needed but the cavity is already filled, the additional layer of unfaced material can be placed at right angles to the joists.

Floors in Unfinished Attics: Batt, blanket, and loose-fill insulation can be used between ceiling floor joists and don't need to be fastened because gravity holds it in place. The vapor barrier must be beneath the insulation, facing toward the heated room.

If floor joists are not covered, you should lay a temporary flooring of plank wood or plywood across the joists. Hang a temporary work light. Leave the insulation in its wrapper until you're ready to use it. It's been compressed and it'll expand a lot once you remove the wrapper.

Lay the blankets (or batts) at the outer edge of the attic space and work towards the center (this will allow more headroom in the center of the attic for whatever cutting and fitting needs to be done). Lay in long runs first and use any leftovers for shorter spaces. If you're stapling insulation blankets into place and accidentally tear any of the insulation covering, cover it with a piece of duct tape.

Insulation should be installed around wiring, taking care not to disturb it. Butt insulation tightly at the joints for a complete barrier to heat flow. Tape the joints with foil-faced tape.

Insulation must be kept three inches away from (1) recessed light fixtures, unless the fixture is marked for insulated ceiling (IC) and (2) a metal flue. Masonry chimney and wood framing space must also have extra care, using un-faced fiberglass, a non-combustible material.

If your ceiling is insulated with loose fill, you can increase the R-Values factor by pouring more of the same material between the joists, right on top of the old, existing insulation. If it is insulated with blanket or batt insulation and has some loose fill on top of it , you can either add un-faced insulation or more loose fill insulation on top of the existing insulation.

With the low roof pitch, extending the insulation to the back of the eaves may be difficult. Smooth the insulation out with a broom , being careful not to get the material centered between the ceiling joists.


Insulation of side walls may be more difficult and perhaps impractical if the walls are already framed and covered with a finished material. However, it is possible for you to do side wall insulation yourself with a rented machine that can blow loose fill insulation between the framing, which would make it easier and more practical. Sutherlands offers free use of rental insulation-blowing machines with a minimum purchase of loose-fill insulation. Call or visit the Sutherlands Location nearest you.

(You might want to ask at the store for a FREE Creative Homeowners Press How-To Booklet #87 "Insulate Side Walls" at the same time you ask for #86 and/or #78.)
Sutherlands® provides these project tips and guides as a service to our visitors. Due to possible variance in conditions, equipment, materials and individual skill levels, Sutherlands® assumes no responsibility for losses or injuries incurred during maintenance or repair of your property. Sutherlands® assumes no liability for errors or omissions in the Resources section of this website. Please read and follow any safety precautions provided by tool and equipment manufacturers, and consult a building professional in your area if you have any questions about a repair project. Always check your local codes before building, and obtain the required building permits.