What Is an Attic Shield?

Dan Cavallari

Several options exist for properly insulating a home. One such method is an attic shield, which is essentially a roll of aluminum foil that is laid out across an attic space. This foil will help keep the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter by providing radiant insulation. The attic shield is usually installed on the walls of the attic as well as on the attic floor in some cases. Some contractors may even install the shield in walls before drywall is hung during construction.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The use of an attic shield will help make an attic space more usable as a living space. During the summer months, attic spaces can get extremely hot because the tiles on a roof will often absorb heat and transfer it into the attic space. Using an attic shield will help prevent such heat transfer and help prevent loss of cooler air from the house itself. In the winter months, when external temperatures can plummet and thereby cause the attic space to become extremely cold, attic shielding can help prevent loss of heat rising upward from the lower levels of the house. This improves the warmth of the attic space and also helps lower heating costs by reducing heat loss.

Generally speaking, installing an attic shield is fairly easy, though if the attic space is to be finished for living use, the process may be a bit trickier. The aluminum foil can basically be laid out and stapled in place using a staple gun, though if the floors and walls of the attic space are already finished, the attic shield cannot be installed without first removing finished floors and walls. Shielding usually comes in rolls that are then laid out in sheets across the attic space. It may be necessary to buy several rolls to cover the entire attic space with shielding.

A few disadvantages of the attic shield exist. First, the shielding aluminum can be fairly fragile, leading to tearing if the attic space is used often. Second, the cost of the shield can be fairly high, though many installers will argue that the shielding will pay for itself since heating and cooling costs for the home are likely to drop once the shield is installed. The aluminum is not exactly aesthetically pleasing either, which isn't so much of a problem for attics that are not used frequently; finished attics will require a complete overhaul prior to installation, which can be considered a major drawback.

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