Faced vs Unfaced Insulation: Which One Should You Choose for Your House?

Faced vs Unfaced Insulation

Faced vs Unfaced Insulation: A Comparative Analysis

Choosing the right insulation for your house involves navigating the difference between faced and unfaced insulation, each serving unique purposes. Faced insulation, also known as ‘kraft-faced insulation,’ incorporates a vapor barrier or vapor retarder made from materials like vinyl, aluminum foil, paper, or plastic, enhancing its effectiveness in moisture control. Conversely, unfaced insulation, without this vapor barrier, offers flexibility in applications where moisture control is managed differently. Understanding what is the difference between faced and unfaced insulation could significantly impact both the comfort and energy efficiency of a home.

In delving into the faced or unfaced insulation debate, it’s essential to understand their distinct advantages. Faced insulation is not just about thermal regulation; it includes a paper vapor retarder, usually Kraft paper, attached to one side of the fiberglass batt, optimizing moisture control. On the flip side, unfaced insulation, without any vapor barrier, stands out for its adaptability and suitability in specific scenarios where additional moisture control is unnecessary. Whether it’s deciding when to use faced insulation vs unfaced, the right choice hinges on the specific needs of the installation site and the desired outcomes in terms of energy efficiency and environmental protection.

What Is Faced Insulation?

Faced insulation is characterized by its unique construction and application benefits, making it a preferred choice for certain home insulation projects. Knowing when to use faced insulation is crucial for optimal performance:

faced vs unfaced insulation

Vapor Retarder Presence

  • At its core, faced insulation includes a paper vapor retarder attached to one side, specifically designed to prevent moisture from seeping into walls and ceilings. This barrier, acting as a faced insulation vapor barrier, is essential in humid locations or areas prone to condensation, such as near bathrooms or kitchens, to block moisture penetration and protect against mold growth.

Installation Considerations:

  • Directionality The vapor barrier must be correctly oriented depending on the climate. In cold climates, it should face the interior of the home to keep moisture out, whereas, in warmer climates, it should face the exterior to prevent indoor humidity from penetrating the insulation, making it particularly beneficial in warm climates.
  • Ease of Installation Faced insulation’s cohesive strength, provided by the paper vapor barrier, simplifies the installation process, making insulation facing a less susceptible option to tearing compared to unfaced insulation, and thus, a more durable option during installation.

Cost and Performance:

    • While faced insulation is slightly more expensive than its unfaced counterpart, this cost difference, reflected in insulation costs, is attributed to the additional material—namely, the vapor barrier. However, this added expense is justified by its enhanced moisture protection capabilities and overall durability, making it a worthwhile investment for areas in homes susceptible to moisture.

Incorporating faced insulation into the appropriate areas of a home can significantly improve moisture control and energy efficiency.

Key Advantages of Faced Insulation

Moisture Control and Protection

  • Faced insulation is equipped with a vapor retarder, significantly slowing down moisture vapor movement through its fibers, crucial for areas prone to moisture like attics or near bathrooms. This raises the question: do you need a vapor barrier with faced insulation? The answer is, in many cases, yes, for optimal moisture control.
  • It is particularly effective in spaces lacking existing insulation, such as exterior walls and attic ceilings, preventing moisture buildup and protecting home interiors during humid conditions.

Enhanced Safety and Noise Reduction

  • The facing material not only improves fire resistance, making it suitable for spaces requiring a fire rating, but some facings also offer flame resistance, reducing the risk associated with combustible materials and flammable paper.
  • Additionally, the same material aids in reducing noise transmission, contributing to a quieter and more comfortable living environment.

Installation Efficiency and Cost Considerations

  • The ease of installation is a notable advantage as the facing material prevents air infiltration, facilitating a smoother installation process.
  • While faced insulation comes with a slightly higher price tag, approximately $0.10 to $0.25 more per square foot than unfaced insulation, the benefits of moisture control, improved fire resistance, and noise reduction justify the additional cost, reflecting the overall insulation costs.

What Is Unfaced Insulation?

faced vs unfaced insulation

Unfaced insulation, characterized by its absence of a vapor retarder, is versatile and adaptable for various applications within a home. Key aspects of unfaced insulation include understanding when to use unfaced insulation for optimal results.


Ideal for interior walls that do not face the outside, rooms without the need for moisture control, and areas where adding to existing insulation is necessary. While you might wonder, ‘can you use unfaced insulation in exterior walls?’ it’s more common in attics, crawlspaces, interior walls, and between floors.

Installation and Forms

It should fit snugly without compression to maintain its insulative properties. Available in multiple forms such as insulation batts, rigid insulation, and Rockwool, unfaced insulation is held in place by friction fit or additional supports like insulation supports or a staple gun for overhead applications.

Advantages and Considerations

While more cost-effective than faced insulation, unfaced batt insulation vs faced shows that unfaced excels in warmth retention and sound cancellation. It is non-combustible, offering a safer option around heat sources. However, it lacks moisture resistance and may require more maintenance.

By understanding these facets, homeowners can make informed decisions on whether unfaced insulation aligns with their needs, factoring in the specific requirements of their construction or remodeling projects.

Key Advantages of Unfaced Insulation

Unfaced insulation presents several key advantages that make it a valuable choice for specific home insulation needs. Here are the key benefits outlined:

Cost-Effectiveness & Installation Ease:

  • Affordability Unfaced insulation is generally more budget-friendly than faced insulation, primarily due to the absence of kraft paper backing, making it a cost-effective option for large-scale projects, and effectively managing insulation costs.
  • DIY-Friendly With no special tools or techniques needed for installation, unfaced insulation is notably easier to install, appealing to DIY enthusiasts and simplifying the insulation installation process.

Versatility & Safety:

  • Customization It offers significant flexibility, allowing for precise cutting and fitting into various spaces without concern for damaging any paper backing.
  • Fire ResistanceUnlike certain types of faced insulation, unfaced insulation is inherently fire-resistant, adding an extra layer of safety to homes.

Performance & Compliance:

  • Moisture Management While it lacks a built-in moisture barrier, unfaced insulation can be effectively paired with external vapor barriers like plastic vapor barrier or poly vapor barrier for moisture control, adhering to state guidelines in moisture-sensitive climates.
  • Soundproofing & Thermal Protection It provides superior soundproofing capabilities and maintains effective thermal protection, making it ideal for basements, crawlspaces, and additional layers over existing insulation.

Comparative Analysis of Faced vs. Unfaced Insulation

When choosing between faced vs unfaced insulation, especially in areas like the basement, several factors come into play that can influence the decision-making process. Here’s a comparative analysis focusing on key aspects:

Personal Preference and Project Requirements:

  • The selection often hinges on individual needs and the unique specifications of the home improvement project.
  • Factors such as budget constraints and the specific area of application (e.g., attics, walls) play a pivotal role.

Installation and Performance Considerations:

  • Ease of Installation: Faced insulation, with its vapor barrier, might require more precise installation to ensure the barrier is correctly positioned. Unfaced insulation offers more flexibility in installation without the concern of a vapor barrier orientation.
  • Durability and Insulation Quality: Both types offer high-quality insulation, but the presence of a vapor barrier in faced insulation can enhance durability in moisture-prone areas.
  • Vapor Barrier Need: The necessity for a vapor barrier depends on the climate and the area of the house being insulated. In some climates, the addition of an external vapor barrier with unfaced insulation might be required for optimal moisture control.

Cost Considerations:

  • Faced insulation typically costs between $0.50 to $2.00 per square foot, including the cost of installation. This slightly higher price point reflects the added value of moisture protection and durability, highlighting the importance of considering insulation costs in your budget.

Understanding these factors can guide homeowners to make an informed decision that aligns with their insulation needs, budget, and the specific requirements of their home improvement project.


Through a comprehensive exploration of faced versus unfaced insulation, this article illuminates the pivotal decision homeowners face when selecting the appropriate insulation type for their homes. The distinction between faced insulation, with its integral vapor barrier for enhanced moisture control, and unfaced insulation, prized for its flexibility and cost-effectiveness, underscores the importance of matching insulation to specific project needs and climatic conditions. These insights equip homeowners with the knowledge to assess their insulation requirements, factoring in considerations of moisture control, budget, and safety to inform a choice that best ensures comfort, energy efficiency, and protection for their home, while also considering the building envelope and thermal performance.

Conclusively, while the decision between faced and unfaced insulation hinges on unique project specifications and personal preferences, understanding the inherent advantages and applications of each type empowers homeowners to make informed decisions. Whether prioritizing moisture resistance and durability with faced insulation or embracing the adaptability and cost benefits of unfaced insulation, the key lies in aligning the selection with the specific demands of the installation environment and the overarching goals of the home improvement project. This alignment not only enhances the living environment but also optimizes energy efficiency, showcasing the significance of informed insulation choices in home construction and renovation projects.


How do I decide between unfaced insulation vs faced for my home?

  • The choice between faced and unfaced insulation depends on your specific needs. If you’re looking for extra soundproofing or wish to avoid the hassle of installing a separate vapor barrier, faced insulation might be the right option for you. On the other hand, if you’re prioritizing cost savings, unfaced insulation could be more suitable.

What type of insulation should I use in a crawl space?

  • For a crawl space that is ventilated, it’s advisable to use unfaced insulation. Unlike faced insulation, unfaced insulation lacks a vapor barrier. It’s crucial to properly secure this insulation and then cover it with a vapor barrier to guard against moisture and mold. This approach is essential whether you’re considering faced vs unfaced insulation crawl space or faced or unfaced insulation in crawl space scenarios.

Which part of the house is most crucial to insulate?

  • Insulating the attic floor is paramount for maintaining winter comfort and energy efficiency in your home. A significant amount of indoor heat escapes through the ceiling, making the attic a critical area to insulate. Additionally, during the summer, attic insulation helps prevent excessive heat from penetrating the ceiling and warming the rooms below. Whether you’re considering faced insulation in the attic, attic insulation removal, or optimizing attic spaces, the right insulation choice can significantly impact your home’s thermal efficiency.

Is faced insulation necessary for interior walls?

  • For interior walls, unfaced insulation is generally more appropriate. Faced insulation is better suited for exterior walls, attics, and crawl spaces, where it can provide the necessary barrier against moisture and aid in temperature control. This distinction is crucial when deciding between faced or unfaced insulation in ceiling areas, ensuring optimal insulation performance across different parts of your home.


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