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© 2008 by Kelly Smith all rights reserved

Beat the Heat with Radiant Barrier


Radiant Barrier Spray

The cost to air condition you home in the summer is absolutely insane. But what can you do? For one thing, you can install a spray-on or aluminum foil radiant barrier.

These are the two major attic heat-reduction methods on the market today. And it works. NASA uses it, as do other customers. The dominant technologies are spray-on and aluminum foil radiant barrier.

Which is Best: Spray or Foil?

This is really up to you but the spray costs more and reflects better. But, and this is a huge but, spray-on is more versatile. It's simply a powder mixed with paint so you can use any color latex paint you want and roll it on your walls, interior or exterior.

When I sprayed my attic, I used the bottom inch or two in the bucket that my Graco airless paint sprayer didn't pick up to roll on my garage walls. And what a difference that has made!

How Much does it Cost?

Uhmm, good question. It's expensive, $0.50 USD per square foot for foil and about $40.00 USD per gallon for the pre-mixed spray-on product. You think that's bad? Check out your last electricity bill.

How Does it all Work?

The spray-on uses microscopic porcelain beads and aluminum flakes embedded in a latex paint base to reflect the heat. The foil is an aluminum product with tiny perforations to allow the material to breathe.

Questions About Radiant Barriers

As with any other product that claims to adhere to green building practices and slash utility bills, barrier materials get their share of questions:

  • Is it too expensive? No! This is one of the cheapest things you can do to lower the burden on your central air conditioner.
  • Is it hard to install? No! If you go with the foil, you basically need a tape measure, a utility knife, and a stapler.
  • Are there any precautions? Yes. If you use spray-on, you must use a high quality respirator (not a dust mask) when spraying or boxing the paint and powder.

Cell Phone Reception

Ahh, everybody's favorite question in this hooked-up world. This question is still way out there as far as the responses go. From my spray radiant barrier experience, I can say that there was no change.

But, as far as the foil staple-up barrier is concerned, I've found that the yes/no response is about equal. Logic dictates that it would make a difference from cell interception arriving vertically, but horizontally? Who knows?

The Truth about Cell Phone Reception

Edit for update: Yes, I have done the test on my own home. During the short span of time between spring and summer here in South Texas, I installed the foil product on the floor of my attic. So now I have both the paint and the foil.

Radiant Barrier Foil, Paint, and Insulation I took about four days to complete this radiant barrier foil installation project, but then again, I only worked about three hours every morning, before the attic heated up too much. (Click the link to read lessons learned and more and the pic for a bigger pic.)

There has been absolutely zero change in cell phone reception and we have three different brands of phones here in the house. Now, when are folks going to start wondering about aluminum siding?

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