Types of Radiant Barriers

radiant barriers

Where vapor barriers work to mitigate the amount of moisture that makes its way into the home, causing interior moisture and humidity issues, radiant barriers protect your home from solar heat gain. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, your attic can reach temperatures of up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit if you don’t have a proper roof and attic design.

The term, Hot, is an understatement, and all that heat travels right through walls and into your living spaces, causing your HVAC to work overtime to maintain the cooler desired temperatures set on your thermostat. Installing radiant heat barriers reflects solar heat gain rather than absorbs it, keeping it out of your home altogether.

Types Of Radiant Barrier

There are several different types of radiant barriers to choose from. Your licensed insulation contractor will help you determine which one is right for your goals and with your current insulation. If you are in the process of replacing outdated insulation, this is a perfect opportunity to discuss the addition of a radiant barrier to increasing attic efficiency exponentially.

There are two different types of radiant barriers:


As the name implies, perforated barriers have a series of holes that allow moisture vapor to travel back and forth without allowing radiant heat in. Therefore, we almost always recommend installing perforated radiant barriers in the attic, where the hot/cold surfaces of the barrier alternate depending on the season.

Installing a perforated barrier eliminates some of the most common things that can go wrong with radiant barriers, including moisture issues or heat issues that compromise roof performance.


An unperforated radiant barrier works as a vapor barrier because it doesn’t allow any condensation or moisture to pass through it. This is ideal in a crawl space, where you

want to keep ground moisture from transferring into your home. However, in an attic, this isn’t the best idea. Unperforated vapor barriers in an attic may create condensation on the inside surface of the attic, which drips down onto the insulation and the attic floors. Over time, this leads to humidity issues as well as the potential for mold and mildew damage.

Optimize Roof, Ventilation, and Insulation to Support Radiant Barriers

Proper installation of a radiant barrier is essential to ensure it performs as advertised. But, as we’ve mentioned before, the attic is part of a system that includes roofing materials, insulation adequacy, and ventilation. Therefore, an issue in any one of those departments negatively impacts radiant barrier performance.

To get the most from a radiant barrier in the attic, you must also optimize your home’s roof, insulation, and ventilation systems. In our post, How to Prepare for Attic Insulation, we discuss completing any necessary roof repairs and ensuring your home is properly air sealed and ventilated. You can install the world’s greatest radiant barrier or insulation, but it can never perform at its best if the other parts of the system need help.

If your roof is ten years old or more, this is a great time to schedule a professional roof inspection. Making the necessary updates and repairs on the roof and ensuring its well-ventilated supports and protects your attic improvement investments.

How Much Will We Save?

Again, the U.S. Department of Energy says that radiant barriers in the attic reduce solar heat gain from the roof by as much as 40%. This can add up to a 17% savings in cooling costs during the warmest parts of the year. Go through your previous utility bills and do some basic math to get an idea of how much you’ll save, and then multiply that by the number of years you plan to stay in your home.

For example, experts say that heating/cooling accounts for about 50% of your utility costs. Review the bills from the warm months of the year and divide them in half. Then multiply that amount by 17%. That shows you how much you’ll save per year. Odds are, a radiant barrier will pay for itself within ten years.

Also, remember that energy-efficient features, such as a new roof, insulation, and radiant barriers, increase resale value because energy efficiency is a top priority for today’s home buyers.

Contact Neo Attic Solutions to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We can look into your attic and crawl spaces to identify what if anything would make a difference for your comfort and peace of mind.

Schedule a FREE INSPECTION today!