Crawl Space Insulation: Faced vs Unfaced

a person in a face mask in a crawl space.
  • 5-50 hours
  • Beginner
  • 300-2,000

Some property owners who are considering more insulation for a crawl space might be looking at the different kinds of crawl space insulation available to help outfit these open areas underneath a floor. Different crawl spaces require different kinds of insulation according to venting, climate considerations, and other factors.

Faced vs. Unfaced Crawl Space Insulation

Experts refer to insulation as “faced” or “unfaced.” Basically, faced insulation has a vapor barrier and unfaced insulation does not. Faced insulation is a familiar type of insulation that often comes in “rolls” or batts and gets stapled to joists or other beams. Some consider faced insulation easier to handle because the facing makes it easy to adhere the rolls to the two sides of the interior area where the insulation is applied.

Applications for Faced and Unfaced Crawl Space Insulation

In considering what kind of insulation to use, pros have established some common tips about what makes sense for a particular space.

Climate Issues—When homeowners are trying to keep moisture out of a space, many experts recommend using faced insulation. The vapor barrier is primarily to help contain moisture or prevent it from infiltrating a space. Humidity and moisture is a major issue in crawl space maintenance: getting the equation wrong can result in mildew and dangerous types of mold that threaten indoor air quality. It’s important to think about how either faced or unfaced crawl space insulation will compliment a strategy to outfit a crawl space to keep out excess moisture.

Using Faced and Unfaced Crawl Space Insulation with Plastic—In some cases, property owners will use unfaced insulation in conjunction with plastic sheeting. Some pros maintain that with plastic sheeting, the vapor barrier on the insulation is no longer necessary. Think about whether to use plastic or stick with a conventional faced insulating roll.

Providing Consistent Insulation—Another major reason why some contractors and other experienced home improvement pros will go with faced insulation is many consider unfaced materials to be harder to install evenly. Where the faced rolls provide a careful, even width, the unfaced or “blown in” materials may not be installed in the same way all through the space. That’s something to think about when considering the pros and cons of each type of insulation.

Along with these considerations, many other specialized issues apply to any one home or property. Home or property owners should talk in depth with contracting professionals to create an optimal overall strategy for insulating and maintaining a crawl space in order to keep the property healthy for inhabitants. Access to a crawl space can also be an issue, so owners should plan for being able to access all areas as needed, for example to maintain basement gear like the sump pump setup that is so important for keeping water out of a building.

Think about the best insulation and other crawl space maintenance ideas when you buy or take over a property. A one-time implementation of an overall strategy will lead to a carefully maintained property that will hold its value while requiring less pricey fixes.