Last year I had the adventure of building a new home for my family.  I used Wayne Atkins of SterlingBrooks Custom Homes.  Wayne and I have been friends for a long time and he “gets it” when it comes to building a high performance, extremely well built home.

We decided to build a full foam encapsulated home with a non-vented attic. We used 6” of open cell foam on the bottom of the roof deck, sealed the attic and spray foamed all the exterior walls.  Basically we built a giant Styrofoam box that was practically airtight. However, what we really wanted was a giant Styrofoam box wrapped with foil.  Foam is great for slowing conductive heat, but in a hot Texas summer we really needed to put the home in the shade (shade from the radiant heat, not the light) – we NEEDED a RADIANT BARRIER!

Double-Deck Roof System - Two decks with two layers of radiant barrier make a ventilated skin over full foam sealed attic.

Since the foil radiant barrier is the first line of defense against radiant heat and the foam is the 2nd line of defense against conductive heat, combining the two would result in the ultimate reduction of heat flow.

The challenge with a spray-foam enclosed attic/roof is that you cannot typically have a radiant barrier because of the lack of a proper air gap. The shingles are connected to the roof deck, and the deck is connected to foam. Some heat will still flow by conduction through the roof/foam assembly.  With this type of assembly there is no air space for the heat energy to jump and be converted to radiant heat. You CANNOT just put foil under shingles on a typical roof and have a radiant barrier.  You MUST have an air space on ONE side of the foil.  Radiant heat by definition is heat transfer by non-contact across an air space.  Without an air space you cannot have radiant heat and without radiant heat you cannot have (or install) a radiant barrier.  Once you can convert heat to its radiant form you OWN IT!  Conductive heat can only be slowed down, but radiant heat can be REFLECTED.

So how can you incorporate an air space and a layer of foil into a roofing system?

View of how the bottom deck is pulled up to allow air from the continuous soffit vents to enter and a flow between the two decks.

The options are limited.  Metal, tile, concrete or other raised- type roofs  will work and you can install a radiant barrier on top of the roof deck below the raised roof. The problem is that these type roof systems typically run $4-$5 per square ft. where a traditional shingle roof will run about $2-$3 per square ft.

I decided to get creative and build a double-deck roofing system.  This system provides the best of both worlds:  we get the radiant barrier and we get it at a reasonable cost.

This is how we did it: first we installed the first (bottom) deck.  We stopped it about 10” from the fascia board.  This gap  allows air to come from the continuous soffit vents and from behind the brick into the soffit cavity and then flow up between the two roof decks.  Then, we installed AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier Foil directly over the roof deck.  You can use either the double-sided radiant barrier 48” product or a single-sided 60” radiant barrier product (the foil side MUST be facing up, toward the sky).

Furring strips installed over AtticFoil layer before top deck is installed.

NOTE:  We used a felt marker to mark where the rafters were on the foil.  Without the marks on the foil it would have been hard to find each rafter for the next step.

Next we installed furring strips.  We used 2×2’s, but you could use 1×2’s if you want. You will want at least a ¾” gap or better between the two decks.  We were careful to leave gaps at the tops and bottoms of all hips to allow air to flow freely from the soffits to the peaks.

Then we then installed a foil-backed roofing deck material called TechShield on top of the furring strips.  This was our “normal” deck that we tied into the fascia boards and then installed traditional roofing felt and shingles.

Furring strips installed over AtticFoil and top deck installed using TechShield with foil facing down.

Ventilation note:  Since the airspace between the two roof decks was only 1 ½” we did not need a whole bunch of ventilation.  For every 1,000 square feet of roof deck, there is only about 125 cubic feet of space between the two roof decks.  The roof was a hip style roof with a limited amount of ridge, so a ridge vent was not an option.  I like 14” wind turbines.  They work well, are cost effective and easy to install.  When you combine the draw caused by the Bernoulli effect of the wind turbines with the natural stack effect of the air rising (or being pushed up by the cool air) the air between the two roof decks is easily being changed several times per minute.  This airflow has a cooling and drying effect on both decks.

View of hip/ridge connection. Furring strips are not fully connected to allow air to flow freely from the soffit vents to the peaks.

The RESULT?

Nothing short of amazing!!  We were under construction during the brutal heat wave of the summer of 2011.  Example: On one hot-sunny day (about 100ºF) the top surface temperature of the shingles was close to 180ºF (using an IR thermometer to measure).  The BOTTOM surface temperature of the lower deck was 110ºF.  ONLY a 10º INCREASE!!  Virtually NO heat was making it through the system. In fact, the construction workers would usually eat lunch INSIDE the home since it was relatively so comfortable.

By forcing the heat to JUMP the airspace between the two decks we OWNED the radiant heat.  The top deck with the foil on the bottom worked off the EMISSIVITY quality of foil radiant barrier (the ability NOT to convert energy to radiant heat) and the AtticFoil® installed below the airspace on top of the bottom decked worked off the REFLECTIVITY quality to reflect the radiant heat.

I would speculate that the nominal 10º temperature increase in the bottom deck was mostly caused by thermal bypass through the furring strips.  Even with the double-deck system, you still will have some conduction though the assembly where there is no air gap.

If you are building a home with a large roof surface area, or want to use dark shingles, please consider this system to incorporate a radiant barrier with a foam encapsulated attic. The upfront cost is a little more, but you will recoup the cost in additional energy savings and in being able to further downsize the size of the heating/cooling system during construction.

Check out the second half of the radio show interview from On the House where Ed shared his expertise on energy savings.

In the first part of the second half of the radio program, Ed covers using radiant barrier in a metal shed/barn (that is not being conditioned), painting a radiant barrier and using a radiant barrier with your existing insulation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ed finishes up his interview by explaining surface temperatures, roof temperatures and the importance of attic ventilation to get the best results and the most comfortable living space.  He also explains why predicting savings is tricky since homes have different variables, and why partial coverage works with radiant barrier.

 

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Did you miss the live broadcast of On the House where Ed was featured as the energy expert and radiant barrier guru of the hour? Catch up on the first segment below!

In the first segment Ed talks about how he got in to the radiant barrier business, where to get radiant barrier AtticFoil®, what it is and why it is different from regular kitchen foil.  Ed also talks about how AtticFoil® is constructed and the simple science behind how and why radiant barrier works.

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R-value is a term used by the building and construction industry to define the thermal resistance a material has.  The higher the R-value, the more resistance the product offers against heat transfer.  Traditional insulation can vary vastly in the R-values it offers.  The US Department of Energy has recommended R-values for certain areas in the USA, based on the general climate of an specific area.  When combined with traditional insulation, there really is nothing better than radiant barrier to reduce heat gain in to the home.

That being said, many companies are selling radiant barrier with some form of insulation attached and claiming R-values of R-11 or more. The problem with these claims is that they are misleading to consumers and oftentimes the products only achieve an R-value of around 1.  Consumers are paying about double the cost, for virtually no additional benefit.

So how can they make claims that these type of products (fiberglass sandwiched with foil or bubble wrap with foil laminated to it) offer an R-11 value?  How does AtticFoil® compare to products like eShield and Prodex? The answer is in the fine print.

 

 

The bottom line is that if something sounds too good to be true – it just might be. Trust your gut and make sure you read the fine print. When looking to install a radiant barrier, you’re probably better off buying a pure radiant barrier and spending what you save on bulking up your traditional insulation if necessary. Consider your situation, and decide what is best for your home.

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In this video I am going to answer the question we get more than any other question at AtticFoil.com:

How does AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier compare to a product called ___(Insert product name here)_____?



It doesn’t matter what radiant barrier product you are talking about: Green Energy Barrier, EShield, Reflectix, etc. As the manufacturer and direct distributor of AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier, we guarantee our product is as good, or probably BETTER than any other product you will find. In fact, the product you are comparing might actually be AtticFoil® with a new label. How do you KNOW we are the manufacturer? Ask ANY of these companies if they produce a 60″ wide perforated foil – AtticFoil.com is the ONLY one.

AtticFoil® is the leading manufacturer of a national brand of radiant barrier foil and we have hundreds of customer reviews to prove it.  Here are just a few words our customers have said about AtticFoil® radiant barrier:

Here are three recent reviews from happy customers:

“I originally went to Lowes to pick up some radiant barrier material (Reflectix) to get started before my AtticFoil® order arrived…after opening the box and trying to put a single piece up, decided it was absolute *#@#&!!; it tore easily, was extremely thin, and on a scale of 1-10, would give it a 0. I returned it half an hour after purchasing it and decided I would wait for my AtticFoil® order… I rarely write reviews on products, but felt compelled to put one up since the product [AtticFoil®] is of incredible quality and value…way to go guys…I will definitely be purchasing more in the future and have already recommended it to others interested in installing a radiant barrier.”

“I found the AtticFoil® incredibly strong and durable. I could not be happier with a product.”

“The radiant barrier by AtticFoil.com is very well made and very sturdy. It is better than several others I examined.”

There are hundreds more, but don’t just take their word for it – order a FREE RADIANT BARRIER SAMPLE of AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier Foil Insulation and see for yourself why we are the number one manufacturer of radiant barrier foil.  To get your free sample, simply fill out the form on this page: http://www.atticfoil.com/contact.htm Samples are mailed daily, Monday through Friday.

Once your sample arrives – test it out! Feel the difference, this is a heavyweight product that won’t tear, but it’s very easy to handle and cut.  We’re confident you’ll be just as happy, if not happier, with the product we manufacture.  For more information, please visit AtticFoil.com, your online source for radiant barrier foil.

Ed on February 11th, 2011

People often ask us, “If I install a radiant barrier on my roof, won’t it overheat the roof and cause damage to my roof shingles?”

Watch the video below to find out what we discovered when we put it to the test.

For more information on Radiant Barrier’s effect on roofing shingles you can read this article:

The Effect of Radiant Barriers on Shingle Temperatures. Am I going to BAKE my shingles?

For more information and commonly asked questions, visit AtticFoil.com, your online source for Radiant Barrier Foil.

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Lane street Inn

Lane Street Inn saves with Radiant Barrier

Older homes can often offer challenges when trying to effectively cool the upper floors during the high heat of summer.  Eben Bryant, owner of Lane Street Inn, a small bed and breakfast in Shelbyville, TN, says he began looking into Radiant Barrier when his wife and their cleaning staff began complaining about the hot rooms upstairs this past summer.  You can read more about Eben’s story here:

(Review of AtticFoil.com from Eben Bryant)

The AtticFoil product I purchased and installed has proven beneficial. When researching radiant barrier, I came across AtticFoil.com and found all I needed to make an informed decision. Other user’s comments and photos encouraged me to perform the installation myself. Over two nights, my nephew and I installed over 4,000 square feet of AtticFoil in the attic of my 100 year old bed and breakfast.

I researched a number of radiant barrier dealers online and locally. I found a dearth of dealers in my area of Tennessee and only a handful of dealers online. Researching the prices, I found AtticFoil to be the most competitively priced on a per square foot basis. I also surmised that the AtticFoil product would be more durable than some of their competitor’s thinner products. I liked that the material is heavy and strong. You cannot tear it with your hands. Pulling it out along my rough attic floor was not a problem. You don’t have to handle this stuff carefully like you might with some thinner products.

Attic image of Lane Street Inn

Overview of attic space at Lane Street Inn

I am a do-it-yourself type of guy and luckily my nephew that helped is young and strong. While there were some scuffed knees and bumped heads, the install went relatively easy. In old houses you have to find ways to improvise. To get around the fact that my attic has high ceilings and very little floored area, we built temporary scaffolds out of scrap 2x4s, unscrewing them and moving them as we went along. To get over the attic heat, we pulled up a couple of HVAC registers and had them blowing into the attic. (Learn more about this trick here) We also worked from about 9:00 pm to 4:00 am during the coolest part of the night.

RESULTS – Before we installed AtticFoil, the temperature in our attic would typically be 20 to 30 degrees higher than the outside air. After the install, the temperature now does not really go more than 10 degrees higher than the outside air. Before the install, the second-floor air conditioning would run constantly. The ducts are in the attic. Temperatures would not fall down to even 74 degrees until nearly 1:00 am. Now we can get all of the guest bedrooms upstairs to comfortable temperatures even before the sun goes down. And the A/C is not running continuously.

Attic view of Lane Street Inn

Corner view of Attic at Lane Street Inn

My wife and her cleaning staff had complained of the uncomfortable temperatures on the second floor all summer. Two days after we installed the barrier and the attic had a chance to cool off, the second floor was noticeably cooler. I was really glad when my wife said, “I think that radiant barrier you installed in the attic has helped tremendously.” Other than what I had read online about radiant barrier, I wasn’t too sure it would work. Well, it did and I am very glad.

Overall, the cost of my rather large installation, including paying my nephew and buying some staplers, was about $1,000. I expect with the savings on my utility bills that I should recoup this cost within one year.

Eben Bryant

(Note from Ed) after reading Eben’s note and checking out his pictures of his installation, I sent him the following reply from which some of you may benefit:

Sturdy sheet of Radiant Barrier from AtticFoil.com

A sturdy sheet of AtticFoil Radiant Barrier

Eben, I want to thank you for writing the kind review and sending me these pictures.

From looking at your pictures, I wanted to offer offer some advice.

Radiant barrier is your first line of defense against radiant heat and “regular” insulation is your second line of defense against conductive heat.

Looking at your pictures, it looks like you only have a few inches of insulation in your attic.

I would look to getting this up to 12-15″ for maximum year round protection against heat loss in Winter  and heat gain in Summer.

I would also get a can of foam and foam around all the ceiling air conditioner registers to the sheetrock.  This will reduce air infiltration.

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AtticFoil.com is part of www.ShopperApproved.com to get real unbiased opinions from customers on their real life experience using AtticFoil Radiant Barrier and feedback regarding their order experience, and results they have seen in their homes.

We asked our customers to spend a couple of minutes to help us promote AtticFoil.com to other potential customers. The response was pretty amazing. Over 100 customers replied and the phrase “Amazing” seems to be a common comment when describing the results.

Update: We now have over 1,000 unique reviews from our customers.  Thanks for the feedback. Read more here www.ReviewAtticFoil.com. (01/21/2013)

Below is a comment form a customer in Hawaii.

Comment: Location: Kapolei, Hawaii (Oahu). Average temps 84 deg F. 50% humidity. Direct sun year round.

Shipping: Foil shipped by UPS as promised and on time. Expensive rates to Hawaii but well worth it.

My Attic: 30 x 70 footprint with a 5/12 pitch. Asphalt shingles. Cathedral ceiling with limited vertical crawl on the outboard slope. R-19 BATT insulation on gypsum fire rated 5/8″ drywall. I have a 5 ton central A/C system. All handler and ducting is in the attic. Ducting is combination of rigid/flex with foil barrier rated at R-6. There are about 300 2″ soffit holes around the house and a electric forced air 1600 cu ft/min gable exhaust fan set for 105 deg F. Average attic temp in the afternoon is 120+ deg F. Inside roof temp can get 130+ deg F. Gable fan runs about 4 hours in the afternoon.

My House: 1600 Sq ft inside insulated R-19 ceiling and R-13 walls. 12 foot cathedral ceiling. Single story. My A/C prior to installation ran about 4-5 hours per day. I keep the temp at 80 deg F. With no A/C the house internal temp will rise to 90+ deg F.

Installation: I did it myself over a course of about three weeks. I could only work in my attic during the early morning (about 4 hours). I installed 2500 sq ft foil in sheets of 8 – 12 feet lengths. An electric staple gun was a must. I used a Craftsman easy staple with 3/8″ staples. Used about 1600 staples. I did a hybrid install because of the cathedral ceiling.
I stapled high and laid on top of BATTS at the low points. Installation was challenging at times but not unmanageable by myself. Ed’s online Blog and instructional videos concise and clear.

The results: AMAZING!! After installation my attic space average afternoon temp is now less then 105 deg F. My gable fan has not run once since the complete install. My A/C runs about an hour per day and the inside temp will not rise above 84 deg F. I have front guest bedroom that receives the direct afternoon sun and was unbearable to be in. It now stays as cool as the rest of the house. My wife and I are amazed that this $500 investment has seen this kind of result.

I have been investigating ways to cool down the house for years but decided to get serious before the tax credit expired. Glad I did. You wont go wrong dealing with Ed Fritz and his company.

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Think of your home as one big refrigerator – would you put it in the shade or in the sun?  Of course you would put it in the shade.  Why?  Heat coming directly from the sun is radiant heat and radiant heat causes things to heat up.  This means the outside surface temperature of your refrigerator could easily be 130º in the sun.  So, the refrigerator “thinks” it’s actually 130º outside even though it is not.

Your roof acts the same way.  It can easily reach 150º or hotter on a sunny day.  This heat will then be re-radiated through the attic and will be absorbed by your attic insulation causing high energy bills and comfort issues.

This video illustrates how a radiant barrier works – plain and simple.  Rather than absorbing the radiant heat from the roof, let’s bounce it back and keep the attic insulation cooler. If you keep the insulation cooler, then less heat enters the home and you save money and stay more comfortable.

Think of it this way:  Radiant barrier is your 1st line of defense against radiant heat and your attic insulation is your 2nd line of defense against conductive heat.  They will actually work TOGETHER for maximum efficiency and comfort.

Looking for more videos on this topic? Check out my posts below.

  • The #1 Attic Ventilation Problem
  • Enerflex® Radiant Barrier at Home Depot compared to AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier
  • Radiant Barrier Installation Summary – Block the Heat
  • Green Energy Barrier (and other products) Compared To AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier Foil
  • Does Radiant Barrier Damage Roof Shingles?
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    The hottest trend is construction is converting an attic space into a living space. Unfortunately the term “hot” usually describes the room once it is complete. One of the common challenges is to get a decent amount of insulation between the sheetrock and the roof deck. Typically roof rafters are 2”x6” and allow only about an R-19 level of batt fiberglass insulation. With only R-19 insulation it can be difficult to keep the new room comfortable when the roof is a dark color and can easily exceed 170 degrees.

    Adding more insulation space between the roof deck and the sheetrock can be expensive, labor intensive and will reduce the ceiling height in the new room.

    One option is to ventilate the roof deck and install a radiant barrier BEFORE you install insulation and sheetrock. This method helps keep the heat absorbed by the roof AWAY from the insulation by creating a THERMAL BREAK to reduce heat flow by conduction. This method also forces the energy absorbed by the roof to be converted into radiant energy. Radiant energy then can easily be reflected away with a radiant barrier.

    Think of this method as a ONE-TWO Punch against heat gain. The radiant barrier is the 1st line of defense against radiant heat gain and regular type “R-Value” insulation is the 2nd layer of defense. This video shows a fast and effective way to install a radiant barrier into your roof assembly to maximize comfort and efficiency for your new attic room.

    Looking for more videos on this topic? Check out my posts below.

  • The #1 Attic Ventilation Problem
  • Enerflex® Radiant Barrier at Home Depot compared to AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier
  • Radiant Barrier Installation Summary – Block the Heat
  • Green Energy Barrier (and other products) Compared To AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier Foil
  • Does Radiant Barrier Damage Roof Shingles?
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