When to Use Faced or Unfaced Insulation

One of your best investment dollars is spent on upgrading your insulation, but make sure you’re using the right kind. Insulation in rolls, called batts, comes in two varieties: faced and unfaced.

Faced, or the type with paper, is typically used in first-time applications, such as in walls, ceilings, floors, and in crawl spaces. Any time you use a faced insulation, the paper needs to be facing toward the living space. So in an attic the paper faces downward and in a crawl space, it faces upward.

Unfaced insulation—the type without paper—is what you would use if you are adding insulation to your attic or to place between floors when living space is above and below. Unfaced is also your best choice for adding soundproofing to interior walls.

18 COMMENTS

  1. We have a garage that is directly under our living room. I want to insulate the ceiling because it gets very cold on the living room floor in the winter. Can you give me a suggestion on what type of insulation to use? Thanks

  2. what if previous owner only used unfaced where the part facing the house doesn’t even have any paper? should i remove and used faced first before adding unfaced?

    • Hi, Rui! We do recommend having a moisture barrier between the living space and the attic.
      Your suggestion for the next steps sounds great.
      Good luck with your insulation project.

  3. The contractor has installed faced insulation between the downstairs bedroom and the upstairs bedroom in the floor do I need to rip holes in the vapor barrier or will it be OK to just leave the face insulation it’s facing down into the basement area please help thank you

    • The home’s layout is a little hard to understand. You mention a downstairs bedroom (which indicates a two-story home), but you later mention a basement. That said, as long as both living spaces are climate controlled, you should be fine.

  4. Hello,
    I have about 5” of loose Rockwool insulation in my attic floorspace, should I install faced or unfaced fiberglass insulation over this tired insulation?
    Should I install perpendicular to the joists? concerned about moisture buildup in this non-climate controlled area & I live in central NC = humid summers.
    Also, I will be having the Rockwool vacuumed out within the next year or two & that could make a difference on the faced or unfaced?
    Thank you in advance for your answers to my questions

    Be well

    • Hi, Dipak,
      Generally, you need a vapor barrier for insulation in the attic, crawlspace or exterior walls.
      Unfaced insulation is fine for adding soundproofing to interior walls.
      Hope this helps!

  5. i am planning to insulate a flat ceiling, which is in our 2nd story bedroom. We are having the roof replaced, and the roofing company will be removing the outside ceiling and and installing the insulation, then replacing the wood and installing new roofing. There is insulation now in the ceiling.
    Do I want to use faced or unfaced insulation?
    Thank you.

    • Hi, Dan,
      Here’s a crash course on faced and unfaced insulation:
      • Use faced insulation for first-time applications; the paper needs to face toward the living space.
      • Use unfaced insulation if you’re adding insulation (on top of existing faced insulation) when living space is above and below.
      Happy home improving!

  6. Hi. I am getting ready to apply rolls of faced insulation underneath my raised home between the joists. This is not a closed in crawl space. It is an open area to the outside. I am also planning to attach plastic sheeting directly under the insulation attached to the bottom of my house. Should I put facing towards the inside flooring or towards the ground? I get so many mixed answers! Thank you so much!

    • Hi, Connie!
      Here’s the rule of thumb: Any time you use faced insulation, the paper needs to face toward the living space.
      In this case, that means toward the inside flooring.
      Happy home improving 🙂

  7. Hello! We have a mold problem on a wall because our washing machine and dryer are in a small room where that wall is an exterior concrete wall, and the condensation makes the mold flourish. I’m about to clean the wall with standard methods, and plan on insulating it because it’s concrete, but I’m not really sure what type of insulation is best. I’ve been recommended to try Styrodur (at least 5mm thickness) , but I wanted to check here because you give really nice tips (thank you for that).
    Thank you very much!

  8. I’m wanting to insulate the walls and doors of a very old detached cinderblock garage without breaking the bank. What would you suggest?

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