Insulating Paint: How Does It Work?

Insulating Paint: How Does It Work?

The theory behind insulating paint is that a heat-rejecting formula added to exterior paint can help keep heat out in summer and hold heat in during winter, just like common insulating materials installed inside the structure. But just how well does it work?

The idea began more than 25 years ago as NASA experimented with coatings applied to the space shuttle to add protection from extreme heat during re-entry. Since then, research and development in the private sector has continued to explore the concept, resulting in one product now on the market.

What Do Tests Tell Us?

Limited testing and evaluation of insulating formulas have produced ambivalent results. One test concluded that paint formulated for insulation failed to reduce heating/cooling energy costs in a significant way. Experiments in another test determined that applying any standard, light-colored exterior paint produced similar results to special paint formulated for insulation. On the positive side, tests by a university found that, when applied to exterior walls that received full sun exposure for maximum daily hours, insulating paint cut heat gain into a house by as much as 20%.

What’s the Current Standard?

Research into this controversial concept is certain to continue. However, at this time, the industry consensus is that standard insulating methods utilizing materials approved by the Department of Energy provide the most reliable reduction of heat gain and heat loss in a structure. Best results are achievable with these guidelines:

  • In our climate zone here in Monmouth and Ocean counties, DOE standards recommend insulating the attic to a level of R-38 to R-60. This means about 12 to 20 inches of fiberglass or 10 inches to 17 inches of blown-in cellulose. For wall insulation, installed fiberglass thickness should be at least 4.5 inches and blown-in cellulose should fill the wall cavity.
  • Structural cracks or gaps that allow heat loss or gain in the house should be identified and properly sealed.
  • Weatherstripping around doors and windows should be inspected annually and replaced if necessary.

For the latest on insulating paint and other potential advances in heating/cooling technology, contact the professionals at Aggressive Mechanical.

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