What Bubble Insulation Brand do you Recommend?
Reader ERICA in WEST COLUMBIA writes: “Is there a specific bubble insulation brand you recommend? We will be using this as our vapor barrier in the roof. I’ve seen posts about this type of insulation disintegrating, so I’m wondering if the claims are exaggerated or if in fact it could be a certain brand. Also we are wanting to have cathedral ceilings throughout our building. Our roof is made with metal trusses and wood purlins. We are using bubble insulation and some type of batt insulation. What is the best method to vent if we are not going to have an attic space?”
To use batt insulation between roof purlins requires a minimum of an inch of continuous air flow between roof deck (roof steel) and insulation. To achieve this, you would need to add framing (such as 2×4 placed flatwise) running from eaves to ridge, then another layer running opposite direction. You could then use a reflective radiant barrier (bubble wrap) between overlays and batt insulation between purlins, up to depth of purlins. This requires vented eaves and a ridge vent.
Instead, look at spraying two inches of closed cell spray foam directly to underside of roof steel (between purlins), then fill balance of purlin cavity with unfaced rockwool batts. This will get you a higher R value and save on material and labor for a lot of 2×4. You should not vent either eaves or ridge in this case.
As for bubble ‘insulation’ – it is not insulation, at best (when completely sealed) it is an effective vapor barrier. There have been real problems with white vinyl facing of reflective radiant barriers flaking off over time. We had this same problem with our first supplier (and, of course, they went bankrupt before problems showed up). After selling millions of square feet, we stopped offering any reflective radiant barriers to our clients.
Read more about reflective radiant barriers here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/reflective-insulation-wars/