Radiant Barrier Product Selection Guide

Our radiant barriers and reflective insulation products are available for purchase online by homeowners, retail store operators, resellers, installers, distributors and all other consumer types. 

This Buyers Guide is intended for potential consumers trying to decide which product to choose for their intended installation application and consumers currently comparison shopping for their ideal product.

Product Selector Guide

This Product Guide is designed to help customers easily determine which RadiantGUARD® product is recommended for their installation application.

For detailed installation instructions, visit our Radiant Barrier Installations page.

 

RadiantGUARD® Products
Ultima-FOIL

breathable

Ultima-FOIL

vapor barrier

Reflex-Air™
Single Bubble
Reflective

vapor barrier

Reflex-Air™
Single Bubble
White

vapor barrier

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Installation Application radiant barrier datasheet
download Detailed Specifications
bubble insulation datasheet
download Detailed Specifications
Attics  
  Stapled to underside of roof decking      
  Draped over top of roof rafters      
  Stapled to underside of roof  rafters      
  Laid over attic floor not
recommended
not
recommended
not
recommended
House Wrap  
    Behind brick or siding      
 

Behind stucco in high humidly / high hydrostatic pressure areas

     
Under metal, tile or slate roofs      
Interior Wall √ * √ R √ R
Interior Ceiling √ * √ R √ R
Basements √ * √ R √ R
Subfloor √ * √ R √ R
Radiant Heat Flooring √ * √ R √ R
Under Concrete Floor / Slab       √ R
Crawl Space √ * √ R √ R

√ ===  recommended product for this application.

X = this product must NOT be used for this application as moisture from home would be trapped under vapor barrier and result in condensation damaging insulation and attic structure.

√ * = check with local building code to determine if vapor barrier is required for this application in your area.

√ R = this product is recommended if a specific R-Value is required per local building codes OR to control condensation typically found in metal buildings.

Comparison Shopping Guide

Radiant barriers have been used commercially for over 30 years, but with the ever increasing cost of utilities, they are becoming more mainstream and, in certain states, even required in new construction.  Radiant barriers can reduce utility consumption when installed properly and therefore, lessen the demand on utility power plants.

Many potential consumers are introduced to radiant barriers and reflective insulation products via dinner parties, home shows, door-to-door marketers, and even radio and television advertisements.  With such mass marketing, consumers are sometimes exposed to a fair amount of misinformation about the radiant barrier technology.  Such misinformation leads to confusion about the different products and providers in the marketplace.

It is important to understand the differences between a radiant barrier and a reflective insulation product in order to make the correct purchase decision for your application. 

In general, a radiant barrier is a reflective sheet which encompasses a middle reinforcement layer, referred to as a "scrim" that gives the product strength and durability.  The thickness of a radiant barrier is usually between 3 and 5 mils (thousandths of an inch).

Radiant barrier products are intended for use in the following applications:  attic floors, attic roof rafters, and as a house wrap behind brick or siding. 

A reflective insulation product is a radiant barrier which encompasses a middle insulator rather than just a scrim.  The insulator can be fiberglass, foam, or air bubbles and the thickness of these products is usually between 3/16" and 1/2".

The main difference between a radiant barrier and a reflective insulation product is that reflective insulations have an R-Value associated with the as the middle insulator provides a small thermal break between the two outer layers.  Reflective insulations are used when you need to achieve a certain R-Value for building code requirements or if you need to control condensations issues typically incurred with metal buildings.

Reflective insulation are higher in cost due to the fact that they are comprised of more raw material under a more involved manufacturing process than a radiant barrier.  Most quality radiant barriers and reflective insulations reflect the same amount of radiant heat, typically 95-97%.

Reflex-Air™ Reflective insulation bubble products are intended for use in the following applications where a solid vapor barrier or specific R-Value is required:  crawl spaces, basement walls, floors, metal buildings, pole barns, concrete slabs and many more.

If the goal is simply to reflect radiant heat, a radiant barrier  would be the best choice.

Radiant Barrier Key Concepts

The most commonly referenced radiant barrier key concepts are present below to serve as guidelines when looking to purchase a radiant barrier. 

For more detailed information on radiant barriers, please see How Do Radiant Barriers Work.

Radiant Barrier Key Concepts

Click to view PDF version to save and print

ASTM C1313 This is the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) test method used to independently test a radiant barrier product for the purposes of providing verified and uniform specifications of a radiant barrier.

C1313 testing performed results in the following specifications which are important when comparing radiant barriers:

  • surface emissivity (and conversely reflectivity)
  • water vapor transmission
  • surface burning characteristics (ie. flame spread & smoke development resulting in fire rating [see below]).
  • corrosivity
  • tear resistance
  • adhesive performance
  • fungal resistance

A radiant barrier that has been tested under the C1313 testing methods results in verified and comparable specifications that can be used to compare against other radiant barriers in the market.  These specifications help the consumer know what they are comparing and/or purchasing.

All RadiantGUARD® radiant barriers have been tested under ASTM C1313 and each product's specifications are listed on our website.

Reflectivity (emissivity) Per the Department of Energy (DOE), for a product to be officially classified as a "radiant barrier" it MUST have a reflectivity rating of 90% or higher and conversely, an emissivity rating of 10% or lower.

Reflectivity defines the amount of radiant heat is reflected away from the surface of the barrier facing a heat source.  Emissivity defines the amount of radiant heat that radiates from the surface of the barrier and it typically measured on the surface of the barrier facing away from the heat source.

Higher reflectivity ratings result in more radiant heat being reflected.

RadiantGUARD® radiant barriers have a reflectivity of 95-97% (and an emissivity of 3%).

Double-sided
vs.
Single-sided
Single-sided radiant barriers have only one reflective surface adhered to a non-reflective substrate (for example, kraft paper).  Single-sided radiant barriers reflect radiant heat only from the reflective side facing a radiant heat source.

Double-sided radiant barriers have two reflective surfaces, one on each side of the radiant barrier, allowing the radiant barrier to reflect radiant heat from both sides independently.

All RadiantGUARD® radiant barriers are double-sided.

Scrim & Durability

In order for a radiant barrier to have durability and strength, a middle "scrim" layer is present in the center of the product.

Our Ultima radiant barrier product is comprised of a tightly woven scrim which makes it a much stronger product which allows it to hold staples and nails and not tear or pull through.  

# of Layers Many consumers have been mislead to believe that a radiant barrier with more layers is more effective than one with less layers.  It is not the number of layers that makes one radiant barrier better than the other.  Based on your criteria, the results of the C1313 testing should be used to evaluate what makes one radiant barrier better than another.

In many cases, additional layers of raw material (fiberglass) makes the product more expensive. In addition, this added thickness makes it bulky and heavier which makes it more expensive to ship.  It also makes it more difficult to work with.

For example, our radiant barrier products are comprised on two outer reflective layers with a  middle scrim layer  which adds strength and durability. We consider this a three layer product; however some similar products are marketed as five layers because they count the adhesive bonding on both sides of the scrim as an independent layer.  We don't count glue as separate layers.

Fire Ratings Radiant barriers, like most building materials, must be tested and meet specific fire ratings.  The fire rating of a radiant barrier, determined by ASTM E84 fire test with required E2599 mounting method, is determined by the flame spread and smoke development results of the surface burning characteristics test performed as part of the ASTM C1313 qualification tests.

There are two organizations that provide fire ratings for building materials based on a products flame spread and smoke development results: The National Fire Protection Organization (NFPO) and The Uniform Building Code (UBC). NFPO's highest fire rating classification is "Class A." UBC's highest fire rating classification is "Class 1."

All RadiantGUARD® products pass the current ASTM E-84 w/E2599 mounting method resulting in Class A & Class 1 fire ratings.

Perforated vs. Solid Vapor Barrier

Radiant barriers come either perforated or non-perforated (solid vapor barrier).

A perforated radiant barrier has small holes throughout the product that allow moisture vapor to pass through (click to view example). Per ASTM C1313, the permeance of the material shall exceed five (5) perms as determined with Test Methods E96/E96M (Procedure A—Desiccant Method). RadiantGUARD® Ultima-FOIL Breathable has a permeance of 8.5 perms; above the required minimum.

A non-perforated (solid) radiant barrier has no holes and serves as a vapor barrier. Per ASMT C1313, the permeance of the material shall NOT exceed one (1) perm as determined with Test Methods E96/E96M (Procedure A—Desiccant Method). RadiantGUARD® Ultima-FOIL Vapor Barrier has a permeance of 0.02 perms; well below the required maximum.

A general rule of thumb for deciding on a perforated or non-perforated radiant barrier:

  • If the radiant barrier is to be installed in a closed wall cavity nearest the living space (such as a side wall or cathedral ceiling), a solid radiant barrier should be used.

  • If the radiant barrier is to be installed in an attic, we recommend a perforated radiant barrier.

For more information, please see perforated vs. solid and our installation instructions for specific installation methods.

NASA Certified

Some companies claim their radiant barriers are "NASA certified."  Although NASA was the first to embrace and use the radiant barrier and reflective insulation technology, NASA does NOT certify any radiant barrier product or manufacturer.

Made in the USA We are proud to say that our products are Made in the USA.  This not only helps our economy, but also allows us to have a quick supply chain to provide consistent availability of our products for customers.  Please contact us if you need to see our Certificate of Origin.