Anyone who’s looked at a newly framed home with fiberglass batts knows there’s a wide range of quality when it comes to how they are installed. Insulation performs a big job and how it’s installed affects the comfort, energy use, and longevity of the structure.
In the past, insulation installers were treated as though they were “in the way” of the drywallers, so the faster they went, the better. Today we better understand the role insulation plays, but the push to get buildings finished keeps speed as a top priority.
While some installers are paid by the hour, piece rate is king. Good installers typically make great wages compared to many other careers. Naturally, the faster you install, the more money you make. All of this, then leads to the question, can fiberglass batts be installed quickly and effectively, at the same time?
Yes, fiberglass insulation installation can be done quickly. Thanks to Reichel Insulation in Mankato MN, IDI was able to film a crew showing the proper way to install fiberglass batts. Check out the installation video below.
The video also gave us the opportunity to include infrared comparisons to demonstrate why installation quality is important. Hopefully, this is a resource everyone shares with their crews and customers so they can see the impact it has on the performance of the insulation. When done properly, fiberglass batts can perform similarly to custom fiberglass installations like Net & Blow.
RESNET even made a grading system for these installations, which Energy Star adopted and requires batts to be installed to Grade 1 to meet their criteria for rebates and incentives. Some cities, like Fort Collins, CO have adopted RESNET’s Grade 1 standard into their codes as well. Here are some details about fiberglass insulation installation grades without going too deep into the grading criteria:
- Grade 1, the insulation must touch all six sides of a cavity, including being in contact with the drywall and have almost no gaps or compressions.
- Grade 2, up to 2% of the wall can have gaps or compressions. On Construction Instruction’s website, Grade 2 is defined as “wall insulation materials will perform optimally with the air barrier in contact on all six sides. The material is also carefully cut around electrical junction boxes, split around wires and pipes generally not compressed greater than ½” of its thickness over less than 2% of the surface area.”
- Grade 3 is greater than 2%.
Out in the field, Grades 2-3 are easy to find. Grade 1 takes longer and requires someone to be more meticulous. So that brings us back to the main question, can Grade 1 be done fast?
Absolutely! Team Reichel did a wall at a pace of 1000 sf/hr per installer. As the video says, this was a wide-open wall. Their normal pace would be closer to 400-600 sf/hr when cutting for boxes, splitting wires, etc. Either way, Ben Reichel and Austin Nichols did a fantastic job. While these guys split the nine-foot walls into top and bottom, this could be done by a single installer at a very good pace using a step ladder.
Is fiberglass insulation easy to install? Calling it easy is a stretch but the word simple could be applied. We won’t cover all the things that were done on the job site here, it is far better to watch the video. The main thing would be placing the batts into the wall, starting at the top, and then finishing the bottom. The things you don’t see in the video are how they stock the job, air sealing, baffles, and get the rest of the prep done quickly, but those details are a story for another time.
Be sure to share the video with your team. Is your crew fast? Time them and share your Grade 1 install video with us. Not only will we put together a video of the top 5, we’ll give them a shoutout and send some IDI swag to honor the great installers out there making homes better with every install! Make sure we can see those times in the video to enter the competition.
If you would like more information on fiberglass insulation installation or any of the products we carry such as net & blow fiberglass, spray foam, reach out to your local branch, or any of us at IDI. We look forward to earning your business.