Insulation vs. Air Barriers

When you are talking about materials used to create your home, you may hear the terms “air barrier” and “insulation” without fully understanding either of these terms. These are two things that are vastly different from each other, meaning that understanding what they mean is important to ensuring that your home is as energy efficient as possible. Here, you are going to learn all about both of these options so you can make an informed decision on which products are used in your home.

Insulation typically refers to what is known as continuous insulation, where there are layers of insulation that continue throughout the rest of the building. These are here to cover structural things like the framing. It will cover the highly conductive areas, which will prevent a direct short circuit from the outside through to the other side of the structure. The insulation is what is responsible for allowing the energy to transfer through the building as well as inside and outside of the building. Reducing the energy transfer between the empty space. Good insulation is responsible for controlling the moisture, heat, and air to increase the energy efficiency of the building. There are different types of insulation out there, so you should do your research to figure out which one will best meet your needs.

Air barrier insulation

An air barrier is something that will restrict the air flow around the building and its foundation. Because they limit the air exfiltration and filtration, air barriers are able to minimize the energy loss that you will experience. These can control the air quality inside of the building and the temperature to ensure that it is energy efficient. These can also be referred to as “air and water vapor resistant barriers”. This refers to the fact that these barriers can also limit the moisture that migrates in and out of the wall. If there is too much moisture within a structure, this can cause a whole slew of problems


Air barriers are generally created from a variety of different materials. These materials can include insulating and non-insulating board stock, self-adhered membranes, and fluid-applied materials along with a mechanically-fastened building wrap. There are very strict air permeance requirements for good air barriers. These barriers are installed by continuously wrapping these items around a structure, which creates an air-resistant and protective membrane. Air barriers are sometimes used in the foundation, but they will primarily be used in the walls and the roofs.

Each of these items has their own purposes in the construction world. An expert installer of insulation can let you know which of these options best meets your individual needs for your building. There is a lot of things to consider, so speaking to a professional is going to give you the answers and advice that you need to make such an important decision. Often times, these two concepts are something that many people outside of the industry confuse. However, problems can arise in the home if you use the wrong option.