Tips to help your radiant barrier install go smoothly

If you have done your research and have decided to install radiant barrier, you’re in the right place! A radiant barrier installation can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. As an expert in this field, I have over 20 years of experience dealing with insulation and attics, and I have some of the best tips to help you with your install. Together we can make sure this project goes smoothly, and as quickly as possible.

Avoid installing on a sunny day in the middle of the day.

In an ideal scenario, you’d plan ahead and get your radiant barrier installed in the fall or spring, ahead of the more intense seasons. However, if you find yourself in the middle of summer and you have to get a radiant barrier up ASAP, try to plan the install for super early in the morning. The earlier the better! Then, start the foil on the east and west sides of the roofline and save the south and north sides for last. This approach allows you to stay “covered” under the protection of the radiant barrier as you work to staple the foil to the bottom of the rafters. Installation info here: AtticFoil Standard Staple Up Method

Another tip for hot afternoon installs is to put a soaker/sprinkler on the roof and run the water. The water has a great cooling effect and will help take the edge off the day.

Another tip is to air condition the attic. You read that right! Open a duct in the attic, and let it blow into the attic areas that you’re working in. For the details on how to do this, and do it right, check out my video here: Foil Install Tips from the Pros.

Use platforms to stand on during the staple up installation.

In an attic with blown-in insulation (or even fiberglass batts) you want to refrain from compressing or standing directly on top of the insulation. For newer homes (or homes with newly blown-in insulation), this means you will need to reposition the insulation so you can lay down a platform without crushing the insulation below. Use a broom/rake head to push insulation aside, set down your platform to work, and when you’re done working remove the platform and re-distribute the insulation to the area. You can use long boards laid next to one another, 4×8 sheets of plywood, or anything else that will give you secure and ample footing area.

Be careful if you have fiberglass in the attic – it’s exactly what it sounds like: glass fibers! It’s nasty stuff that you don’t want on your skin or in your nose. Wear body, face, hand, and eye protection when working in an attic, but especially if the attic has fiberglass. For tips on other supplies that make installation go smoothly, read: Supplies for AtticFoil Installs

Watch out for vents in the attic!

In the attic you may have roof vents, gable vents, or even vents from inside the house (like kitchen or bathroom vents) that you need to be aware of. For attic vents like roof vents and gable vents, make sure you don’t block these with the foil. Cut around them and keep them open and unobstructed. To learn more about the importance of ventilation in the attic, check out this page: The Basics of Attic Ventilation.

If you have kitchen or bathroom vents going in to the attic – that needs to be fixed! Even if your attic is vented, it’s never a good idea to vent a bathroom into the attic! This set up is a moisture nightmare just waiting to happen. If you need to re-route your vents through the roof, this install video shows you how to do it.

Pre-measure your areas. Twice!

One way to prevent major frustration and end up with short pieces that don’t span your distance properly is to pre-measure the spaces in the attic, and then cut the foil outside of the attic. This is a tried and true method but don’t assume all rafters or supports are evenly spaced. Measure each area, write it down, then measure it again for accuracy. Trust me – it’s worth the extra 20 seconds to make sure you’re correct. Cut the foil and bring it up to the attic and staple it on to the rafters. This tip is a big time saver!

Don’t make extra work for yourself – order the right size!

Did you know AtticFoil Radiant Barrier comes in different widths? The 48″ wide AtticFoil is most popular and the preferred size if you have an open, A-frame attic. If you have lots of trusses in the attic or it’s a low pitch that’s hard to reach, the 26″ wide is the best option. Yes, it may take you a little longer to cover the same area, but when you don’t have to mess with cutting the pieces longways, you’ll be glad you got it! Don’t break your back or get frustrated using a roll that’s not the right size. Look around the attic and figure out which roll is going to be the easiest to handle. If you need a specific size we don’t carry, you can call us and add on a custom-cut for whatever size you need. For example, you can purchase a 60″ wide roll and add on a custom cut to make 3 x 20″ wide rolls. Browse the roll options here: AtticFoil™ Radiant Barrier.

Finally, as with many DIY projects, I do recommend you get a helper. Even one additional person can make a difference. They don’t even have to be that involved – they can hold one end, help measure, cut, etc. and be just as helpful as the person stapling and wrapping. Follow these tips (& here’s some more tips!) to have a quick and simple radiant barrier install.

If you have any tips that I missed that you want to share, feel free to drop them below in the comments section!

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