Blow-In-Blanket® System with OPTIMA® Fiber Glass Insulation
Recently I had the pleasure of trying a new insulation system on one of our projects. We’re using the Blow-In-Blanket System with OPTIMA Fiber Glass Wall Insulation by Certainteed for a major addition to a private school.
Blown In Wall Insulation
We’ve been using more and more blown in type wall insulation on projects over the last few years especially blown in wet cellulose. The benefits of blown in wall insulation are very obvious when you see it installed just one time. Regardless of the type of material blowing in wall insulation allows for a much tighter cavity with significant reductions in air infiltration.
While we’ve had great success with the wet blown in cellulose there are some folks that have reservations about locking in moisture within the wall cavity. However, our experience has been great with that product and it’s still a very viable insulation option in my opinion. Having said that I was very eager to try this alternative that relies on a dry blown-in product vs the wet procedure we’ve previously tried.
Installation of BIBS with OPTIMA Insulation
Insulating wall and ceiling cavities with the BIBS system is a little different that insulating with a wet spray applied cellulose. The difference being how the insulation is held in place. Prior to filling the wall cavities a breathable cloth like material is applied to the walls as shown in the first photo above. The material is stapled to the wall studs and framing very tightly to ensure the insulation is held tightly in place.
Installers first stretch out the material and tack it in place with staplers. Once the material is in place and pulled tight they go over all the framing members with an automatic stapler (sounds like a full automatic machine gun!) and install staples every inch or so. This is necessary to help hold the insulation in place without bowing out too much which would make drywall installation near impossible.
Next the installers cut a small hole in the wall cavity about mid-height and blow in the insulation up and down until the cavity is full. As you can see in the adjacent photo the wall cavity is filled very tight. Once you see how tight it is you realize why they have to install so many staples!
The installers used the same approach with our ceilings (this project we’re doing un-vented cathedral ceilings with the full 14 inches of rafter depth completely filled with insulation. Un-vented ceilings are not something new but some may still say it’s a controversial approach (something for another article one day) but we feel it’s the best approach for low slope (3:12 in our case) roofs.
BIBS with OPTIMA Performance
At the time of this article this project is still under construction so time will be the final judge on performance. However, having said that the specifications for this product boast some impressive numbers.
BIBS with OPTIMA boasts an R23 rating for 2×6 framed walls. This is quite impressive when you consider conventional fiberglass batts at around R19 (assuming perfect installation which is impossible) and R21 for wet applied cellulose. When you consider current fuel prices it’s not hard to argue that every last R value point matters and a 10% improvement will likely pay off in the near future.
When it comes to pricing we were actually quoted the same price for both wet applied cellulose and the BIBS system. When you consider the improved R value and the fact that it’s a dry product it’s certainly a front runner in my opinion.
Some might argue that cellulose is a greener product. On a product to product comparison you would be correct because cellulose is over 80% recycled content where the BIBS system is substantially less than that. However, if you consider the long term performance in R value and fuel savings there’s certainly an argument to be made for a tight race. Also, BIBS with OPTIMA has achieved GREENGUARD® Certification for superior indoor air quality performance.
So far so good! This is the first project that we’ve used the BIBS product on so it’s a bit early to pass judgment. However, from what I’ve seen so far this is a product that’s sure to make a major impact on the building industry and one we’ll definitely use again. After a winter has passed I’ll be sure to report back on how well it’s been performing.