How To Cover Exposed Insulation In Attic [5-Step Guide]


Insulation comes in several different forms. These include batts, spray foam, blown-in, foam board, and loose fill or cellulose.

Insulation is an important part of keeping your home’s energy costs down by regulating its temperature. However, some kinds of insulation can cause skin irritation.

If you plan to spend a lot of time in your attic, or you’d like to use it for storage, you may want to cover the exposed insulation.

To cover the exposed insulation in your attic:

  • Make sure you protect your eyes, skin, nose, and mouth.
  • Measure the area and inspect it for damage.
  • Install a vapor barrier if necessary.
  • Use a nail gun or staple gun to install your chosen cover material.

5 Step Guide To Covering Exposed Attic Insulation

Follow the guide below to cover any exposed insulation safely and securely in your attic.

What You’ll Need:

  • Safety goggles
  • Construction gloves
  • Face mask
  • Protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants
  • Tape measure
  • House wrap, kraft paper, drywall, or plywood
  • Caulk (optional)
  • Insulating foil tape (optional)
  • Polyethylene sheeting (optional)
  • Nail gun or staple gun

1. Wear Protective Gear

It’s vital to protect yourself when undertaking any home project. Depending on what kind of insulation you have in your attic already, you may need extra layers of protection.

If you have any kind of fiberglass blanket insulation, protective clothing is a must. Fiberglass fibers can cause irritation of the skin. It’s not life-threatening, but it is uncomfortable.

Wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves to avoid coming into contact with the fiberglass. You should also wear a face mask and goggles to prevent the fibers from entering your eyes and lungs.

For most other kinds of insulation, even blown in or loose fill cellulose, the risk of skin, eye, and lung irritation is low. However, you should still wear gloves and safety goggles as part of your standard safety procedures.

2. Inspect And Measure Your Framework

If you’re installing a plastic covering, you want to avoid any rips or tears in your material. Therefore, you should examine the area over which you want to cover for any large splinters or hardware

In addition, removing these hazards beforehand will make your covering easier to install.

Afterwards, measure the insulated area you wish to cover.

3. Examine Insulation For Damage

Before you begin covering your exposed insulation, be sure there is no damage to fix first. There’s no point in covering up insulation that needs repairing.

Check for gaps, tears, and mold on your current insulation. If there are any spots that need replacing or refilling, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on your chosen insulation material.

4. Install Your Vapor Barrier (Optional)

If your insulation consists of fiberglass, cotton, or another type of batting, determine if it has facing. This is often a layer of kraft paper that covers the surface of the batts.

If you’re covering insulation on your attic floor, your batts should already have facing. It will be on the side that points downwards towards the rest of your house.

You do not need to add another layer to the insulation on your floor. But if you’re covering wall or ceiling insulation in your attic, you may need to add a vapor barrier.

A vapor barrier blocks moisture from reaching your insulation and framework. Moisture can damage the insulation and even the house framework.

If your wall and ceiling insulation has facing, you do not need to add another vapor barrier. This layer could face the inside or the outside of your attic, so always double-check.

If there is no facing, you have to install a vapor barrier before anything else. Luckily, these barriers are relatively easy to install. One of the simplest versions is polyethylene sheeting or a “polymembrane.”

Use a staple gun to staple the sheeting every 4 to 6 inches across your framework. Make sure the sheeting is taut as you go, but don’t stretch it out of shape.

Caulk the edges of your plastic sheeting and trim any extra plastic. You should leave about an inch around the edges.

Finally, use an insulating foil tape to tape across any seams in the sheeting and across the staples.

5. Cover Your Insulation

You can use either a soft or a hard covering for your insulation depending on your needs. For instance, to prevent accidental contact, you can just use a soft covering.

If you want to use the attic for storage and/or want a more finished look, use a hard covering.

Soft Covering

A soft covering can be anything from kraft paper to house wrap material such as Tyvek. If you already installed a vapor barrier, this could work on its own to prevent accidental contact.

If you want a different covering over your vapor barrier, you should avoid plastic unless it’s perforated. Unperforated plastic can act as a secondary vapor barrier.

Having two vapor barriers can do more harm than good. They’ll trap moisture in between the layers instead of letting it escape.

Attach the soft cover using a staple gun, making sure there are no gaps or wrinkles. If you’re using a specific house wrap, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions above all.

Hard Covering

For storage or aesthetic purposes, you can use a hard covering such as plywood or drywall. These surfaces are more durable for storage and allow you to walk safely through your attic.

Both products come in sheets. Use your framework measurements to purchase the right number of sheets.

Use a nail gun to nail the sheets to the framework of your attic over the insulation. Always follow the safety instructions when using heavy duty construction tools.

For a more durable surface, you can add drywall mud in between each sheet of drywall.


Summary

Insulation is necessary to regulate the temperature and moisture level of your home. Even so, it can be both unsightly and potentially irritating to your skin and lungs. 

It can also prevent you from utilizing your attic as a living or storage space.

There are a few options for covering exposed insulation. The simplest is with kraft paper or house wrap. These soft materials will keep irritating insulation, such as fiberglass, away from your skin and lungs.

You may need a vapor barrier on top of your insulation. If so, this can also keep you out of contact with your insulation. No additional covering is necessary.

For a sturdier cover on which you can walk, you can install sheets of drywall of plywood.

No matter what you choose, this guide will help you cover up any attic insulation you don’t want to see.

Katherine Ann

Katherine is a freelance writer who enjoys DIY home décor and refurbishing tired furniture. In addition to writing for PlumbJoe, she blogs about books and movies and writes creatively in her spare time.

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