R11 Vs R13 Insulation (Which is better?)
If you are new to the world of insulation, then you are likely confused by the many terms that people use to describe different types of insulation. One particularly difficult topic to understand is the difference between r11 and r13 insulation.
R11 and r13 have several key differences related to their physical traits and how they perform as insulation. Overall, r13 insulation is significantly thicker than r11 and offers more insulation. By contrast, r11 is one of the thinnest insulation options you can find, making it suitable for a few specific uses.
R11 and r13 insulation both have specific qualities and uses that you should know. Read on to learn everything you need to know about these insulation types and the differences they have from one another.
A Quick Comparison Between R11 and R13
Since it is quite challenging for the layperson to grasp the ways that r11 and r13 insulation differ, we’ve decided to make a quick comparison. Read through the table below to learn the top ways that r11 and r13 compare head-to-head:
|R11 Insulation||R13 Insulation|
|Thinner (3-5 inches)||Thicker (4-8 inches)|
|Offers minimal insulation||Offers a moderate amount of insulation|
|It cannot be used for exterior walls||It can be used for exterior walls|
|It can be used for interior walls||It can be used for interior walls|
|Not great for soundproofing||Offers some soundproofing|
|Best used where temperatures are mild and consistent||It can be used where weather changes are relatively extreme|
That table paints a clearer picture of r11 and r13 insulation. However, there is plenty more for you to learn about these two types of insulation. Most importantly, you should have a distinct idea of where you can use each of these insulation options.
For Which Places is R11 Used?
R11 insulation is used almost exclusively for interior walls. Interior walls, which divide the rooms of a home, require far less insulation than exterior walls, which separate interior spaces from the outdoors. The reason for this is that the temperature change between rooms is rarely stark. As such, there is little to no need for insulations thicker than the relatively thin r11.
There may be some rare occasions in which you can use r11 insulation for an exterior wall. However, this use is only applicable if you live in a region where the weather is mild and remains relatively the same throughout the entire year. In nearly every case, it is safe to assume that r11 will not be enough to insulate your exterior walls effectively, no matter where you live.
In areas where there is a significant change in temperature during parts of the year, r11 will not be an appropriate choice for exterior walls. As such, this eliminates r11 as an option for exterior wall insulation in most regions of the United States.
For Which Places is R13 Used?
You can use r13 insulation for exterior walls or interior walls. However, r13 is often the thinnest type of insulation you should consider for an exterior wall. Typically, it is far more advantageous to use a thicker material, but it remains possible for r13 to work effectively.
The United States Department of Energy offers some guidance about which insulation you should use and mentions r13 as a viable choice for wood-frame walls in several climate regions, including nearly every part of the continental United States. They also claim that r13 will work well as floor insulation, but only in warmer regions like Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
Another use for r13 insulation is in interior walls. With this application, r13 again proves to be a better option than r11. The reason behind this does not necessarily relate to the insulation abilities. Instead, r13 is a better option for interior walls because it gives much better soundproofing.
Can You Use R11 and R13 Insulation for Attics?
Neither r11 nor r13 is a suitable option for insulating attics. Attics are more prone to temperature changes than other parts of your home, which makes both r11 and r13 much too thin to work effectively in an attic wall. To insulate an attic, you’ll need to find an insulation material with a much higher degree of thickness and insulating ability.
What is an R-Value in Insulation?
An R-value is a standard means of measuring how much a piece of insulation material can insulate your home. These values indicate how much the insulation will allow hot or cold air to pass through. Insulation materials that have a higher R-value will be much more insulating than those that don’t.
In keeping with that thought, insulation that has a higher R-value is a better option for regions that experience more extreme temperatures and areas of your home that experience more extreme temperatures than others. These high R-value insulation materials are also significantly thicker than those with a lower R-value.
What is the Highest R-Value for Insulation?
The highest R-value for insulation that you are likely to come across is r60. This insulation is incredibly thick and can insulate against extreme hot and cold temperatures. A typical fiberglass batt with an r60 rating will be between 20 and 26 inches. This thickness and fantastic ability to insulate often makes r60 insulation far more expensive than other insulation options.
What is the Lowest R-Value for Insulation?
The lowest R-value for a piece of insulation is r10, which is quite thin and has a low ability to insulate effectively. Insulation with an R-value of 10 is usually less than three inches thick. This lack of thickness limits the use of this insulation. In fact, you’ll struggle to find a recommended use for r10 insulation on the Department of Energy website.
While r11 and r13 are both forms of insulation, they have quite different applications in construction. R11 insulation is considerably thinner and is mainly useful for insulating interior walls. On the other hand, r13 is the better option for both interior and exterior walls as it is significantly thicker. Be sure to study the R-value of any insulation you buy before using it for your project to get the best results.
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