R13 Insulation Guide

R13 Insulation Guide: Everything You Need to Know

The power consumption of HVAC systems is directly related to the quality of insulation in the space they’re heating or cooling. In this R13 insulation guide, we’ll look at different ways in which these materials can make your home more energy-efficient.

Even though R13 insulation materials have the same thermal resistance capacities, their properties can be very different as they behave differently at high temperatures or when exposed to high levels of humidity.

Most importantly, insulation materials with R13 value aren’t suitable for all climates, and you need to check your state’s residential insulation codes and standards to determine if you can use them.

Check out our guide to furnace types for more information on how these heating systems can keep your home warm.

Key Specifications of R13 Insulation

More than 30% of outside air reaches the interior of uninsulated spaces through their walls. Although residential insulation doesn’t block the airflow through different elements of the building entirely, it still reduces it significantly.

The material’s R-value shows you its thermal resistance capacity, so the higher the R-value is, the less cold or warm air can go through it. Despite having the same R-value, the properties of insulation materials vary, and the specifications of R13 insulation depend on the material you choose.

R13 Insulation Guide

You have to find out more about the properties of each material before you decide that it is the right choice for the space you’d like to insulate.

The climate in the region where you live is another essential factor you need to consider since you might need materials with a higher R level than 13 if you live in a cold climate region.

Go through our heat pump guide to learn more about what these heating and cooling systems have to offer.

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Core Features of R13 Insulation

The most common application of R13 insulation is to insulate 2×4-inch wood frame walls. Other applications include the insulation of floors, basements, and crawlspaces, but only in regions with favorable weather conditions.

Hence, if you live in the northern regions of the United States, you’ll have to use materials that have R values above 20 to insulate floors, ceilings, or crawlspaces. Also, whether or not you can use the R13 insulation depends on the U value of the element you want to insulate.

The U value shows you the combined thermal resistance of all the materials that constitute a specific element of a building. Instead of purchasing R25 or R30 insulation materials, you can create two or more layers of R13 insulation to increase the element’s thermal resistance.

Read our guide to mini-split systems to explore the advantages of ductless cooling and heating systems.


Types of R13 Insulation

The U.S Energy Department differentiates between nine types of insulation that can be used in residential settings. Each insulation type can be made of more than just one material, so besides having to choose the type of R13 insulation material, you also have to select a specific material.

Learning more about the properties of insulation materials will make it easier to pick the one that best matches the requirements of the space you’d like to insulate. Here are some of the most common types of residential insulation you’ll encounter.

  • Blanket roll and batt insulation – The affordable price and DIY installation option are some of the reasons why this type of insulation is so popular. You can use blanket rolls and batts to insulate walls, crawlspaces, or attics.
  • Rigid foam and foam boards – Even though they’re relatively thin, rigid foam and foam boards still offer a high level of thermal resistance. Polyurethane, polystyrene, or polyisocyanurate are some of the materials used to manufacture this type of R13 insulation.
  • Blown-in insulation – As indicated by its name this insulation type is blown into wall cavities or attics to create a layer of thermal protection.You can choose from fiberglass, mineral wool, and cellulose materials.

We’ve only mentioned a few R13 insulation types, and you should explore other insulation types and materials if neither of the options we covered meets your requirements. Browse through our guide to ventilation systems to find out how they can help you to improve air quality in your home.

Heat Resistance Capacity

As we already noted, you can use the R13 insulation to insulate 2×4-inch walls in warm, temperate, and cold climates. On the other hand, their heat resistance capacity is insufficient to insulate floors, attics, or crawlspaces in regions with long and cold winters.

Creating a 2-layer structure may extend the R13 insulation’s range of applications, but doing so might still not be enough to insulate an attic properly.

Besides the climate, you’ll also need to pay attention to the location of the element you’d like to insulate because the volume of sun exposure the element gets might affect the amount of thermal protection it needs.

Moreover, you have to calculate the U value accurately before you can start considering R13 insulation materials. Check out our guide to water heating systems if you’re looking for an energy-efficient way of heating water.

Noise Blocking Potential

The R-value of an insulation material depends on its thickness, and the R60 material is around 17 inches thick, while the thickness of R13 insulation varies from three to four inches.

The noise-blocking characteristics of these materials also depends on their thickness, and material that is only several inches thick doesn’t absorb sound, as well as material that is thicker than 10 inches.

Despite being relatively thin, R13 insulation can still cancel most traffic and city noises, but you’ll still have to soundproof your home if you want to block the outside sounds entirely.

The noise-blocking abilities of R13 insulation differ from material to material, and you have to find out more about the sound absorption capacities of the material you want to get to know how efficient it is at eliminating noises.

Our guide to the best wood stoves can help you find a reliable heating solution for your home.

Temperature Range of R13 Insulation Materials

Although some manufacturers claim that their R13 insulation is fire-resistant, this isn’t the case. However, the burning temperatures of materials like fiberglass or mineral wool are above 1,000F, making them resistant to most house fires.

The temperature of a house fire can sometimes reach 1,500F, which means that the fire-resistant label is only partially true. R13 insulation materials with high-temperature resistance can slow down the fire’s growth rate and reduce the damage it makes.


You shouldn’t confuse the material’s R-value with its ability to withstand exposure to high temperatures. That’s why you need to check the burning point of the R13 insulation you’d like to get to know how much protection against fire it can offer.

Go through our guide to the best 5-zone mini-splits to explore cooling and heating systems that allow you to control the temperature in different parts of your home separately.

Moisture Control

The R13 insulation loses its thermal protection capabilities if it gets wet, and you need to protect it from direct exposure to humidity. You can choose between faced and unfaced versions of all insulation materials that have R13 value.

Faced insulation has a sheet of paper that prevents the material from getting in touch with moisture, while unfaced insulation doesn’t have any protection against humidity. That’s why you must install a vapor barrier over unfaced insulation to protect it from moisture.

Some R13 insulation materials like polystyrene or polyurethane are water-resistant, and there’s no need to add extra layers of protection if you opt for either of these materials.

You should consider the humidity level of the space you’re insulating during the R13 insulation material selection process in order to know how efficient at repelling the moisture a material should be. Read our guide to humidity control systems to find out how you can humidify or dehumidify the air in your home.

Pest Protection

R13 insulation can help you keep the vermin away from your home, but only to a certain extent. Its pest protection efficiency depends on the material, so a fiberglass batt can’t do much to prevent mice from wracking havoc in the walls.

Blown-in cellulose insulation can be very effective at preventing rodents or insects from settling in your home. Even so, you’ll have to explore other pest control options to get rid of rats, ants, or any other type of vermin.

Check out our Senville mini-split review if you’re searching for a dual-zone cooling and heating unit.

Home’s Energy Efficiency

Maintaining a constant temperature in an uninsulated room is difficult, and it requires vast amounts of electricity. The power consumption of a 24,000 BTU mini-split or a 4-ton heat pump largely depends on the quality of the insulation in the space these systems should cool or heat.

4-ton heat pump

When used to insulate 2×4-inch walls, the R13 insulation can improve a home’s energy efficiency regardless of the climate.

Insulating floors, ceilings, or crawlspaces with R13 insulation in temperate and cold climates isn’t advisable because their thermal resistance isn’t sufficient to prevent the cold air from entering the house’s interior.

You can combine R13 insulation with materials that have higher and lower R values to insulate these elements properly. Go through our guide to the best 36,000 BTU mini-splits if you need a ductless AC that can regulate the temperature in spaces that have up to 2,000sq/ft.

Installation Costs

Several factors can affect the amount of money you have to spend to insulate a room or an entire house. Most contractors charge between $1 and $1.5 per square foot, so you’ll spend considerably less on insulating a 200sq/ft area than you would if you’d like to insulate a 2,000sq/ft space.

Fiberglass or mineral wool rolls and batts don’t require professional installation, and this type of R13 insulation can save you hundreds of dollars on installation costs. You should become more familiar with the downsides of these materials before you decide to use them.

Browse through our guide to the best 2-ton heat pumps to learn more about what these ductless split systems can offer.

The Pros of R13 Insulation

R13 Insulation

Versatile Selection of Materials

You can choose from a variety of R13 insulation materials that have different temperature ranges, moisture blocking capacities, and application methods. Fiberglass rolls and batts are the least expensive option, while cellulose foam spray is among the most expensive materials you can choose.

Excellent Moisture Protection

R13 insulation performs well even in humid conditions. Opting for one of the waterproof R13 insulation materials will ensure that moisture can’t accumulate in the walls, ceilings, or floors.

Highly Durable

The chances are that you won’t have to replace the R13 insulation for twenty or more years regardless of the material you choose. Some R13 insulation materials can stay in perfect condition for up to a hundred years.

R13 vs R15 Insulation Compared

Slows Down Fire Growth

Several R13 insulation materials can withstand exposure to temperatures up to 2,200F, and they can at least partially protect the walls and floors from damage.

Compatible With Higher or Lower R-value Materials

Combining the R13 insulation with a material with a different R-value enables you to increase the thermal resistance of the insulation you’re installing.

The Cons of R13 Insulation

Some Materials Contain Toxic Particles

Fiberglass and other insulation materials can cause respiratory problems because they contain harmful particles and emit toxic fumes.

Limited Range of Applications

The weather conditions can limit the scope of applications of R13 insulation. Aside from insulating 2×4-inch walls, you won’t be able to use this insulation for almost anything else if you live in a region that has long and cold winters.

The Best Alternatives to R13 Insulation

All insulation materials have R values, and you can either opt for a material with a higher or lower R-value than 13. In addition, you cannot use the insulation material with the same R-value to insulate all parts of your home.

Let’s take a look at some of the R13 insulation alternatives you can use to insulate the roof or walls of different structures.

R15 Insulation Materials

Owens Corning R-15 Pink Kraft Faced Fiberglass Insulation Roll | Amazon

Soft to the touch and easy to cut and install, Owens Corning insulation has a strong reputation with home builders for delivering the performance you can trust. 

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R13 and R15 insulation materials are often used interchangeably because their properties are almost identical. R15 insulation is slightly thicker, and it is more versatile because it performs better in cold weather conditions.

Materials with either of these R values can be used to insulate 2×4-inch walls or to insulate basements, floors, or ceilings in warm climates. Moreover, creating a 2-layer structure from R15 insulation enables you to insulate floors and crawl spaces in all climate zones.

Read our R15 vs R13 insulation comparison to learn more about their differences.

R21 Insulation Materials

Owens Corning R-21 Insulation | Amazon
$1,555.00 ($155.50 / Count)

With an R-Value of R-21, the insulation will fit into any 2x6 construction board. Kraft-Faced. This insulation has a moisture barrier that is used for exterior walls, floors, or attic This insulation is perfect for 8-foot floors or walls. 

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The thickness of R21 insulation materials is almost six inches, and they’re one of the best insulation options for 2×6-inch walls. Their thickness makes them a reliable floor and crawl space insulation option that eliminates drafts and reduces heat transfer.

Besides R21 insulation, you can also use materials with R19 value to insulate 2×6-inch walls and other surfaces in your home.

Keep in mind that two layers of R21 insulation might not be enough to insulate an attic, so you should consult with a professional while trying to decide if you should insulate this surface with R21 insulation.

R49 Insulation Materials

The materials with R49 value are too thick for walls, and they’re commonly installed on attics and roofs. Their sound absorption capacities are excellent because they’re between 15 and 16 inches thick.

They’re suitable for all climate zones, although you may have to add a layer of insulation material with a lower R-value over them if you live in a cold region. Also, you should opt for a faced or waterproof version of R49 insulation material to ensure that humidity cannot damage it.

Frequently asked questions about R13 insulation.

Question: What to Do If R13 Insulation gets Damaged by Pests?

Answer: You have to replace R13 insulation if pests damage it.

Question: Does R13 Insulation Settle?

Answer: Some, but not all types of R13 insulation, settle and shrink over time, which causes them to become less effective.

Question: Does R13 Insulation Contain Formaldehyde?

Answer: Fiberglass insulation is used to contain formaldehyde, but this toxic chemical is no longer utilized to manufacture this type of insulation.

Question: How Long Does the R13 Insulation Last?

Answer: Depending on the size of the space you’re insulating, it may take up to two weeks to complete the installation of the R13 insulation.

Our verdict: Is R13 Insulation a Good Choice for Your Home?

Meeting the local residential insulation codes and standards is paramount for both the safety and energy efficiency of your home. That’s why you have to be absolutely sure that R13 insulation matches the requirements of the surface you’d like to insulate.

In most cases, materials with this R-value are a suitable solution for 2×4-inch walls, but whether or not you can use them to insulate floors or crawl spaces depends on how cold or warm the region you live in.

2 Pack Owens Corning R-13 Pink Kraft Faced Fiberglass Insulation Roll | Amazon

Improve the comfort of your home with the exceptional thermal control, noise reduction and peace of mind of Owens Corning PINK Fiberglas insulation. 

Buy at Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/10/2024 06:22 pm GMT

Did you find this R13 insulation guide useful? Let us know in the comments, or continue reading our guide to the best garage mini-splits to learn more about ductless ACs that can help you control the temperature in this part of your home.

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