aluminum foil

  • Can you use Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Kitchen Foil as Attic Insulation?

    The jury is still out but we are getting a little closer to an answer!

    Well, we heard some folks were doing this, installing Reynolds wrap aluminum kitchen foil in their attic to block radiant heat and we wanted to learn more. So almost 4 years ago, June 2010 we put out a blog post offering a free roll of insulation for anyone who would share details of insulating an attic with Reynolds wrap kitchen foil. Out of nowhere EJ contacted us a week ago and wanted to redeem the free product offer.

    Below (in italics) is the description of why he chose to insulate his attic with kitchen foil instead of a radiant barrier. After reading the email, it is clear that EJ understands exactly how reflective insulation works. Although we would stick with our insulation, we now understand why someone would think to pursue the kitchen foil route.

    Thank you EJ for submitting this. Please visit and comment on how the kitchen foil is working as well as the radiant barrier we are sending.

    "Here are a few pictures I took with my phone. The foil's shine confuses my camera's flash. I'm a retired engineer, I have a HVAC master license and have alot experience with energy audits. This part of my house was built in 1954. About 10 years ago we did a spray in radiant barrier Low/mit-2 and insulated to R-38. This helped considerably with overall electrical usage and temperature variances in the house.

    5 years ago we added on an additional 1800 square feet. The newer tighter construction reveals some deficiencies in the old house. What bugs me most is how quickly the bedrooms heat up. I was doing more research on radiant barrier exterior paint additives and started reading about the advantages of foil (and its air gap) vs. paint on barrier. I believe low/mit-2 tests at 77% reflectance vs. foil at 98%. While this is a significant difference, in my situation of already having a paint on barrier I felt the payback in upgrading to a true foil barrier like yours might be too far down the road. However I saw little harm in buying several rolls of kitchen foil and spending an afternoon crawling through my attic. It hasn't been hot long enough this year for comparison.

    From experience and theory I'm sure there will be some gains from the channeling and convection effect of the foil and my ridge vent. I would wager there might even be a slightly better advantage with your product because of your bubble wrap you do have a slight R-value keeping the roof side air warmer that should cause a better drafting effect. I did my foil job in March, and just found your site via google in May while looking around to see if anyone else has tried the kitchen foil idea." 

    Thanks! EJ (name changed pursuant to privacy policy)

  • Radiant Barrier Technology, Multi-Layer Insulation & Spacecraft

    MLI blankets on the Mars Reconnaissance OrbiterThe connection between radiant barriers and NASA or the space program and reflective insulation is not quite accurate.  Sure, radiant barrier technology became important to the space program but aluminum foil insulation was already available in the construction industry 30 years earlier, as far back as 1940.

    In many cases you will hear that the current radiant barrier technology used in today’s construction industry stemmed from our missions to space and unfortunately that is not true.  What is true is that many consumer goods were created after NASA worked with the technology.  This is what people are identifying with.

    Here is where we stand today. The current use of radiant barrier technology in space exploration is now defined as multi-layer insulation or MLI.

    “Multi-layer insulation, or MLI, is thermal insulation composed of multiple layers of thin sheets often used on spacecraft. It is one of the main items of the spacecraft thermal design, primarily intended to reduce heat loss by thermal radiation. In its basic form, it does not appreciably insulate against other thermal losses such as heat conduction or convection. It is therefore commonly used on satellites and other applications in vacuum where conduction and convection are much less significant and radiation dominates. MLI gives many satellites and other space probes the appearance of being covered with gold foil.”

    Click here to read the entire Wikipedia article on multi-layer Insulation

  • Attic Radiant Barriers and Consumer Aluminum Foil

    Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Kitchen FoilSometimes there are some stories so bizarre that you can't make them up. At least three times in the past few weeks, we have inadvertently found information where consumers are thinking or attempting to put aluminum foil (the kind used in the kitchen) as a replacement to an attic radiant barrier product in their attics.

    We had to dig a little deeper, and it seems the motivation to do such a thing appears to be financial. You can go out and purchase 1000 square feet of Reynolds Wrap for approximately $20-30 dollars. The same amount of our attic radiant barrier product delivered is under $200.

    Folks, you have to understand, these products are not the same. First, our attic radiant barrier, all of our insulation for that matter, reflects 96% of radiant heat. This is not just because they are made with aluminum; it is because they are made with high commercial grade aluminum that is tested to reflect radiant heat at this level. Your store bought aluminum is made from recycled aluminum and is not designed or tested whatsoever for this use.

    The other major issue is size and durability of the products. Our foil rolls are 48" long allowing you to cover your attic in the least amount of passes possible keeping your installation time to a minimum. Can you imagine running 12" sections of kitchen aluminum foil? Kitchen foil cannot even hold a staple to install. The thought is so comical that we have created a special offer.

    Here's the offer. For anyone that has successfully installed kitchen foil in their attic and will share pictures with us for re-creation on our site, we will send you out the equivalent square footage of actual radiant barrier attic foil in order for your attic insulation project to actually work.

    By the way, here are some other fun facts we found that your kitchen foil might actually work for. Sorry, insulating your attic wasn't one of them.

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