Radiant Barrier Buyers 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 Selector Guide
This Product Guide is designed to help customers easily
determine which RadiantGUARD® product is recommended for their installation
application. If you need further advice, please don't hesitate to contact
Customer Support via live chat, email or by calling toll free (866) 528-8412.
For detailed installation instructions, visit our
Where & How to Install page.
√ === 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).
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%.
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
If the goal is simply to reflect radiant heat, a
barrier would be the best choice.
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
Radiant Barrier Key Concepts
Click to view PDF version to save and print
||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
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]).
- 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.
||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
Higher reflectivity ratings result in more radiant heat being reflected.
RadiantGUARD® radiant barriers have a reflectivity
of 95-97% (and an emissivity of 3%).
|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.
||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
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
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.
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.