The experts on home improvement shows make it look easy, but installing insulation yourself can be messy, tiring and, if you don't plan carefully, as expensive as hiring a professional.
And as you plan your insulation project, keep in mind that it's also important to use vapor barriers and ventilation to maintain a healthy balance of air and moisture movement throughout your home.
You can do it yourself if:
The number one rule (as always) is to follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly. Skipping steps and taking shortcuts could mean significant reductions in R-value - and a waste of your money and effort. Allow yourself plenty of time and make sure you have enough materials to complete the job.
A few more tips to keep in mind:
During cold weather, water vapor from the warm inside air travels through unsealed holes and cracks, and condenses on cooler surfaces, including exterior walls, the underside of the roof and within insulation. This condensation can rot wood framing, blister paint, ruin insulation and damage the roof. Vapor barriers installed between insulation and interior surfaces can help prevent this problem.
You can purchase batt or blanket insulation with an attached vapor barrier, usually made of coated kraft paper or foil-backed paper. When using unfaced batts or blankets, or loose-fill or foam insulation, you can add four- or six-mil thick polyethylene sheeting.
If you're installing insulation yourself, remember these guidelines when using a vapor barrier:
It may seem like attic vents defeat the purpose of insulation, but they're a vital part of keeping fresh air circulating through your home. An unventilated attic can trap heat during the summer, raising the indoor temperature by several degrees and putting a strain on your air conditioner. During the winter, warmer air trapped in the attic can cause ice dams than can lead to serious roof damage.
Never cover attic vents with insulation. If your home has no attic vents, be sure to add several before installing new or additional insulation - your contractor or retailer can advise you on what's best for your situation.
For the best indoor air quality - and even greater energy savings - you can invest in a heat recovery ventilator. This device will provide continuous circulation to ensure your home has healthy air.