Insulating your basement ceiling is important to help weatherproof and soundproof your home. Many homeowners even convert their basements into living or entertainment spaces, making effective insulation all the more essential for long-term comfort, soundproofing, and preventing mold growth.
Here are 7 of the best kinds of insulation for basement ceilings:
- Best Overall: Owens Corning Pink R-13 Faced Insulation Roll
- Best Budget Option: Owens Corning Pink Insulation Foam
- Best for Touch-Ups: Great Stuff Pro Gaps & Cracks Sealant
- Johns Manville Series R13 Fiberglass Roll Insulation
- Frost King Natural Cotton Multi-Purpose Insulation
- Roxul Mineral Wool Insulation With Foil Back
- SmartSHIELD 5mm Reflective Insulation Roll
Keep reading to learn more about why and how you should insulate your basement ceiling. I’ll also cover seven of our favorite insulation products for all budgets. You’ll learn which is best suited to keeping your basement dry, muffling noise, and keeping warm and cool air indoors.
Factors To Consider When Insulating Your Basement Ceiling
You have various great types of insulation at your disposal that can be used to insulate your basement’s ceiling, and the specific kind you’ll use will depend on several factors, such as:
- Your budget. How much are you willing to spend on your insulation? If you aren’t going to be using your basement for much other than storage, you might want to opt for something inexpensive that will meet the bare minimum requirements to keep the space weather- and soundproofed and free of excess moisture.
- The climate where you live. This is where understanding R-value is essential. If you live in a warmer climate and use your air conditioning frequently, thicker and more heat-resistant insulation will be best. The same goes for areas with extreme cold fronts; the higher the R-value, the better you’ll be able to prevent heat from escaping the basement.
- The function of your basement. Are you going to convert your basement into a gym, home theater, or maybe use it as a nice little laundry room to store your washer and dryer? The overall aesthetic of your insulation of choice is crucial if you and your guests will be using your basement. You might want to avoid something messy like spray foam or fiberglass rolls if style matters to you.
- Ease of installation. Are you going to be tackling the job of insulating your basement by yourself, or are you going to pay someone else to take care of it for you? If you don’t have much experience with insulating spaces, you might want to opt for something simple to install, like foam square insulation, fiberglass rolls, or batts.
We’re soon going to cover seven great insulation products of various types to help you find the best option for your home. But first, let’s cover the reasons why you should insulate your basement in the first place.
Types of Insulation
There are many great types of insulation for your basement ceiling, depending on your budget, experience level, climate, and personal preferences. In the next section, we’ll cover some of our favorite products best suited to insulating a variety of different basement ceilings, regardless of where you live, the R-value you need, or your budget.
When it comes to general types of insulation, though, the choices you’ll have will most likely fall under one of the following categories:
- Fiberglass insulation (Usually either in blanket rolls or batts)
- Foam boards
- Spray foam
- Mineral wool
Best Insulation for Basement Ceilings
1. Owens Corning Pink R-13 Faced Insulation Roll: Best Overall
Blanket insulations such as these Owens Corning R-13 insulation rolls from Amazon.com are excellent for basement ceilings. They are flexible, easy to manipulate, and have a reasonably high R-value even though the fiberglass material tends to be very lightweight.
We’ve chosen this as our best overall option, primarily because of its accessibility, ease of use, and inexpensive cost. This product is assembled in a neat roll that can be reshaped, cut, and even layered for an even higher R-value.
Owens Corning’s Pink R-13 insulation is a great all-around option for weatherproofing no matter your climate. However, you’ll need to wear protective clothing to prevent the fiberglass irritants from getting in your eyes, on your skin, and in your lungs. It is also effective for soundproofing and repelling moisture.
- High R-value at a low cost
- Easy to install, cut, and shape to your basement’s specifications
- Works great for cold and warm climates
- Easily accessible and usually in stock at most major retailers
- Protective clothing is necessary for installation, as the product sheds highly irritating fiberglass particles
2. Owens Corning Pink Insulation Foam: Best Budget Option
These Owens Corning ½” (12.7 mm) thick insulation foam squares found on Amazon.com are a popular choice for insulating basement ceilings, despite their low R-value of only 3.0. They are very inexpensive, easy to install, and can be layered for extra insulating power.
These foam squares are easy to cut and fit to any shape you need, and they don’t shed fiberglass particles like roll insulation tends to do. If you’re on a budget and want something simple to install that looks neat and clean, this product is a perfect choice.
- Cheap and accessible at many major retailers
- Easy to install, cut, and reshape
- Has a neat and tidy appearance
- Low R-value means it isn’t ideal for very cold or hot climates
3. Great Stuff Pro Gaps & Cracks Sealant: Best for Touch-Ups
Spray foam insulations, particularly those of the closed-cell variety such as this Great Stuff Pro product from Amazon.com, are great for insulating basement ceilings as they give you plenty of control over exactly where you want to place it. It also is highly moisture-resistant, making it perfect for keeping your basement ceiling from harboring mold or attracting pests like termites.
Most basement ceilings are usually full of crisscrossing pipes and wires, so filling in the spaces can be tricky with more bulky and inflexible types of insulation. The Great Stuff Pro expanding spray foam comes with an applicator gun to help you fill hard-to-reach spots precisely the way you want it.
Since this spray foam is closed-cell, it has a decently high R-value of 6.2 per inch (157.48 mm) of thickness, so you can easily reach an R-value of 12 or higher by adding an extra inch or two of foam. This particular product is even designed to fill gaps up to 3” (76.2 mm) in size, so it is versatile for many different areas of your basement’s ceiling.
- Gives plenty of control when filling crevices and hard-to-reach spaces
- Very high R-value depending on the thickness used
- Great for sealing areas around windows, vents, and doors
- Prevents moisture buildup
- Doesn’t take much time to set
- Can be painted or stained to make it blend in better with your basement’s aesthetic and decor
- Can be combined with other types of insulation; ideal for filling any spaces you missed
- Great for soundproofing when used in large amounts
- Can be costly if you’re insulating your entire basement with foam
- Tricky to apply at first; slight learning curve with the applicator gun
- Not ideal for very large basements
4. Johns Manville Series R13 Fiberglass Roll Insulation
With an R-value of 13, this product from Johns Manville is another excellent choice for insulating your basement ceiling and is also very affordable. Since fiberglass rolls of insulation are very flexible, lightweight, and easy to manipulate, they are great for squeezing in between your ceiling’s pipes and beams for a perfectly sealed result.
You can easily purchase this product from Amazon in bulk orders of up to four 15” x 32’ (381mm x 9753mm) rolls, so it is very cost-efficient. You can easily cut, reshape, and adjust the rolls to fit your particular ceiling, making it very DIY-friendly, no matter the size or shape of your basement.
- One of the more affordable types of insulation but still very effective, particularly for preventing hot or cold air from escaping depending on the time of year
- Lightweight and easy to install
- Very easy to cut and reshape to fit the unique shape of your ceiling
- Suitable for moderate soundproofing on a budget
- Tends to retain moisture more than other types of insulation; condensation can be a problem as it attracts mold over time if not properly maintained
- Fiberglass is a lung and skin irritant, so be careful and wear protective clothing when installing
- Tends to shed fragments while you’re installing and manipulating the product; can be very messy
5. Frost King Natural Cotton Multi-Purpose Insulation
This Frost King “No Itch” insulation found on Amazon.com is a great all-natural, non-irritating option made of recycled denim. It is inexpensive and versatile, making it great for homeowners on a budget who still want to be eco-friendly wherever possible.
Although it is thinner than most other options on this list, you can easily layer it for extra insulating power. Additionally, it is mold and mildew-resistant, so it helps keep moisture from seeping into the walls of your basement and throughout your home.
This product is also easy to cut and reshape to fit small or oddly-shaped spaces and crevices, so you have a lot of room for customization to make it fit your basement’s ceiling perfectly. Since it’s made of lightweight recycled denim, it won’t be stressful or exhausting to install.
- Not irritating like fiberglass
- Made of recycled materials
- Easy to layer and modify into any shape you need
- Prevents mold growth
- Great for soundproofing
- R-value unknown, but likely fairly low
- Thinner than most other options on this list
6. Roxul Mineral Wool Insulation With Foil Back
Mineral wool is a slightly more costly and overall less popular type of insulation, but it is highly temperature-resistant and won’t retain any moisture coming in from outside. With an R-value of 4 per inch, this Roxul insulation from Amazon.com can be layered and modified to fit your basement’s specifications.
If you’re willing to splurge a bit on this one, this insulation with its reflective foil backing is a great choice. It is also great for soundproofing.
- Extremely heat resistant; won’t burn unless it is exposed to temperatures exceeding 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit (648.89°C)
- Uses more natural materials than fiberglass insulation
- Material is highly soundproof
- Requires protective clothing to install, as the particles are highly irritating to the skin, lungs, and throat
- More expensive than most options on this list
7. SmartSHIELD 5mm Reflective Insulation Roll
This SmartSHIELD insulation roll from Amazon.com is non-toxic and excellent for weatherproofing your basement with its reflective barrier to help redirect radiant heat. You’ll save money on your heat bill during the winter and your air conditioning bill during the warmer months, and it even has a vapor barrier built-in to prevent condensation and moisture absorption.
Although it is a bit on the more expensive side, you won’t regret using this superb insulation for your basement ceiling. It has a very high R-value of 15.67 with one layer and a whopping 21.1 with two layers, and you can easily layer this insulation if you need more protection. Despite how protective this insulation is, it is very lightweight and easy to install.
We’ve chosen this as our best overall runner-up. Even though it isn’t quite as inexpensive or easy to find as our other best overall choice above, its vapor barrier, high R-value, and temperature resistance make it an undeniably great option for all kinds of basements.
- Has a vapor barrier to repel moisture
- Tear and puncture-proof, but can still be cut and reshaped easily with utility scissors
- Very high R-value; can be layered for an even higher R-value
- Very temperature-resistant
- Easy to install
- Available in various sizes
- Non-toxic, non-irritating
- More expensive than some other options on this list
Why You Should Insulate Your Basement Ceiling
Many homeowners don’t see any real purpose for insulating their basement, especially if they aren’t using the space for anything important. Insulating a large room can often be costly and time-consuming, and attempting such a project on your own requires a bit of research to accomplish it effectively.
However, it is becoming more common for basements to be converted into living and entertainment spaces, laundry rooms, and even home gyms. Getting the most out of your home’s space is incredibly rewarding, but you will need to treat your renovated basement like any other room in your home, meaning it needs proper insulation, especially if you’re using it frequently.
Even if you aren’t renovating your basement into something more than, well, a basement, there are still clear benefits to installing a decent insulation barrier into the ceiling that helps protect the rest of your home.
In short, there are three main reasons why you should insulate your basement’s ceiling:
- Weatherproofing/energy efficiency. Are you going to be heating or cooling your basement, depending on the weather? If so, sufficiently insulating the space is crucial to saving money on your heat and air bill. Insulating your basement ceiling will prevent cold or hot air from escaping, keeping it comfortable no matter the time of year.
- Soundproofing. Is your basement going to be an entertainment space, a gym, or even a laundry room? All of these spaces generate plenty of noise, whether it be from your television, gaming systems, washer and dryer, or gym equipment. Insulating your basement’s ceiling is a great way to keep noise levels down, effectively confining any sound generated into one space.
- Preventing moisture and mold growth. Basements tend to be cool and damp, which are the prime conditions for mold to grow and spread through your home. Using insulation with a vapor barrier will prevent moisture from becoming trapped within your walls and spreading throughout your home to foster mold growth.
Even if you don’t plan on renovating your basement into a grand, elaborate living area, your entire home will still benefit from an insulated basement. While soundproofing might not be much of an issue for a mostly empty, unused basement, energy efficiency and keeping moisture out of the space are still important.
Because most basements are either partially or entirely underground, they tend to absorb moisture that seeps into the walls over time. Combined with the fact that your basement is one of the coldest areas of your home, a perfect environment to facilitate mold growth is created as a result. Insulation will help prevent this moisture from seeping in and damaging the foundation of your home.
Plus, depending on where you live, you may have specific requirements for how you are meant to insulate your home, even down to your basement. You may even need insulation of a particular R-value.
Finally, insulating your ceiling will help make your basement look more neat and clean overall, as the insulation material will help hide the mess of piping, beams, and wires spread across it. In addition to increasing the value of your home, you’ll be able to do more design-wise with your basement if it is insulated in a tidy and efficient manner.
Nothing ruins the aesthetic of a home theater, gym, or laundry room like pipes and wires dangling from your ceiling, and there are plenty of types of insulation that will complement the style of this space in your home.
What Is R-Value?
The R-value of your insulation essentially means how well the insulation can resist heat. You need insulation with a high R-value, as your basement is typically going to be the coldest room in your home.
Depending on the area you live in, you’ll also need insulation with a higher R-value. For colder climates, the US Department of Energy recommends you choose insulation with an R-value of at least 11 to as high as 22. For warmer areas, they advise insulation with an R-value of 11 to 15.
In general, your basement ceiling insulation should never be below R-10. You will need the type you choose to have a high R-value to prevent cold air from escaping to the rest of your home in the winter and keep warm air in the basement if you decide to heat it in the warmer months, especially if you have converted your basement into an entertainment or living space.
Insulating your basement’s ceiling is essential to maximizing your home’s longevity and your overall comfort. Now that you have a wide range of options to choose from and know the benefits and potential downsides of each product, you can select the best insulation for your basement’s ceiling.
Regardless of your basement’s setup, what you intend to do with it, or where you live, you’ll be able to find the perfect insulation material from our list of options.