Batt vs. Roll Insulation – Key Differences + How to Choose

Batt and roll insulation are popular among homeowners looking to provide an additional layer of protection for their homes. The two products share a similar application range and some people have a hard choice in deciding which would be the best fit for their space.

A look into the differences between each insulation type can help you decide on which product best meets your home’s insulation needs.

What is batt insulation?

Batt insulation appears as pre-cut pieces with a specific height. The product is made using materials such as fiberglass and cellulose. The insulation resembles thick pieces of sponge-foam blanket-like insulation with pre-determined heights ( thickness varies depending on the R-value of the insulating material).

Batt insulation can fit easily in wall cavities although it requires a supporting framework to fit in the wall.

Batt insulation is better suited to protecting small spaces, and sections of your house. You can also use batt insulation on standard 2 inches by 4 inches and 2 inches by 6-inch wall cavities where it can provide adequate protection from thermal and moisture changes.

What is roll insulation?

Roll installation appears as large rolls/sheets of the insulating material including fiberglass, plastic fibers, mineral wool, etc. The rolls may vary in length and thickness depending on the product’s R-value, and cost.

Roll installation is highly flexible in its application and is ideal for surfaces such as walls and attics where it is more effective when protecting large sections of your home from thermal and moisture damage.

Batt vs Roll Insulation – Differences

Batt and roll insulation types share several similarities that can make it difficult to correctly differentiate one insulation type from the other. However, the products have distinct differences that can help individuals to differentiate each insulation type.

A primary difference relates to the size and the installation process of each. You can also consider the different circumstances where one insulation type is ideal for use compared to the other.

Key differences between batt and roll insulation include:

Installation process (and ease of installation)

Batt and roll insulation have different installation processes and varying ease of application where one is more technical and requires more attention when installing compared to the other.

Batt installation involves preparing the wall surface by erecting and correctly spacing wall studs  (often made from wood) and fitting the batts individually within the cavity. The project is straightforward and ideal for a DIY project with minimal technical expertise.

When installing batts on your wall, always make sure that the insulation material fits snugly within the cavity as poor installation can be expensive to repair and result in reduced efficiency.

Installing roll insulation on a wall surface involves preparing the wall surface by installing supporting frames on the wall. You then have to measure the height of individual cavities and make accurate cuts on your insulation in line with the cavity requirements.

Finally, fit individual pieces in the cavities without leaving spaces and gaps. Roll installation requires more attention to detail and can be more demanding when compared to the latter.

Cost

Batt and roll insulation have varying costs. Cost differences vary depending on the insulating material, size, and installation cost of each product. 

Bat insulation costs about $0.12 to $0.60 per square foot compared to $0.80 to $1.00 for a square foot of roll insulation. Although the differences in cost may appear small, you have to consider that rolls are commonly sold as complete rolls while batts appear as individual pieces sold separately or in a set. 

A complete roll of insulation ranges from $20 to $90 depending on the insulating material and other variable costs. In comparison, a complete set of batt insulation contains an average of 5 to 11 separate pieces and each complete package ranges from $200 to $600 depending on the project’s size, type of material and additional variable labor costs. 

Batt insulation is slightly more expensive when working on large surfaces as individual pieces cost slightly more compared to similar-sized pieces of roll insulation. 

Size

Batt and roll insulation have a considerable difference in size with roll insulation having a bigger length compared to batt insulation.

Batt insulation appears in pre-cut sizes of equal dimensions. The average length of batt-type insulation ranges from 46 inches to 96 inches although most tend to fit in standard wall heights. Roll insulation has an average length of 17 ft to 80 ft for large commercial rolls. The thickness of each insulation type varies depending on the R-value of the product. The standard width for both batt and roll insulation ranges from 15 inches to 23 inches.

Batt insulation typically fits in 2inch by 4-inch and 2-inch by 6-inch wall cavities while roll insulation is highly adjustable and can fit in the entire height of a wall surface without having to make cuts. You can measure the height of a wall cavity and make a similar-sized cut when using roll insulation.

Effectiveness

It can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of an insulation type without considering factors such as the insulation material, surface size, and installation technique.

Batt insulation is more effective when working on a small surface area where you need a small-sized insulation material to cover a specific area. Roll insulation is ideal when working on large surfaces where the insulation can blanket large surfaces and high walls.

Batt insulation is a better choice when working alone in a DIY setup as a person can easily place and fit batts without added help. Rolls are better suited to spaces that require a team effort or spaces with minimal obstacles such as electrical wiring, water pipes, etc.

 You can also use rolls to cover up uneven spaces and gaps with relative ease compared to using batt insulation.

R-values

Batt and roll insulation have slight differences in R-value per square inch. The differences may be because of the different insulation materials where each material has a unique R-value per square inch.

Materials such as batt fiberglass have an average R-value range of 10.8 to 11.9 for every 3 ½ inches while others such as mineral wool have an average R-value of 19 to 21 for every 6 inches. Roll insulation also has an R-value ranging from 3 to 21 depending on the thickness and material density of the product. The standard R-value for batt insulation is about  3.1 to 3.4 per inch while the standard R-value for roll insulation ranges from 2.9 to 3.8 per inch.

R-values may not be the best metric for differentiating between batt and roll insulation. However, roll insulation can have a higher R-value owing to the ability to completely seal gaps and air spaces over a large surface.

Batt insulationRoll insulation
Slightly higher costSlightly lower cost
Easy to install over small surfacesMore technical to install over surfaces
Smaller in length (pre-cut)Can reach considerable lengths
Effective when insulating small surfacesBetter suited to large surfaces
Ideal for an individual DIY projectMay require teamwork during installation
Slightly lower R-value averageSlightly higher R-value average

Why are insulation batts more expensive than rolls?

Insulation batts are slightly more expensive than rolls. The differences in price range from the type of insulation materials, installation surface size, labor, and production costs of the different materials.

Fiberglass batts have become more expensive because of increased demand and a supply shortage from manufacturing locations such as China. You can also attribute the price difference to economies of scale. Purchasing large quantities of a product is less expensive compared purchasing smaller-sized pieces of the same product.

The price difference is small when you consider the average price of the material per square foot. Manufacturers also undergo the extra cost of making standardized cuts on each batt insulation which is not the same as roll insulation.

Which one to choose

The choice of the better insulation type depends on the buyer as both products serve a similar purpose and are from similar materials. You might also consider additional factors such as the size of the wall surface you are working on, wall height, and the presence of obstacles such as electric wiring and uneven spaces.

Both batt and roll insulation have distinct strengths and weaknesses. The choice of the better option for your home lies in figuring out the best insulation type that suits your needs and the structure of the surface that you are working on.

References

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