Is It Better To Insulate Ceiling Or Roof? (The 3 Pros & Cons)

is it better to insulate ceiling or roof

I wanted to get the best out of my new home, or should I say my new old home I bought a few months back. As I inspected all the renovation that needed to be done, I saw that the insulation needed to be replaced. I had limited knowledge of roof and ceiling insulation, so I called an expert to show me if it’s better to insulate the ceiling or roof and the pros and cons of each. 

In most cases, it’s better to insulate the ceiling as it is less work and easier to do; however, if you have an attic attached directly to your home, then insulating the roof is your best option. It also depends on what area and climate you live in and whether you have a vaulted or cathedral ceiling. 

I had no idea that there was such a difference in the types of insulation between ceiling and roof. After some research and talking to an expert in the field, I decided to share what I had discovered on whether it is better to insulate the ceiling or the roof and explain the pros and cons of each.

Is It Better To Insulate Ceiling Or The Roof?

When we think about the roof of our homes, it’s easy to forget about the usually unseen insulation that homes have. So what is better to insulate, the ceiling or the roof, and why is it so important?

Ceiling Insulation

Insulating a ceiling is when you use either bat (when using blanket insulation) or loose-fill insulation for your attic or the airspace between your ceiling and roof. You can use a few different types of insulation material but the most cost-effective insulation material to use when insulating your ceiling is loose-fill insulation.

Roof Insulation

Roof insulation is when you install insulation above and below the roof rafters in the slopes of your roof. When the heat rises, it can go through the roof, meaning your house loses heat. Still, if you have roof insulation, it will be easier to contain and circulate the heat, distributing it more evenly and keeping your home warm in the winterer and cool in the summer.

When Is It Best To Insulate The Ceiling?

when is it best to insulate the ceiling

The most common place to insulate your home is the ceiling. It is a quicker and more affordable way to get all of the benefits of insulation without all of the work of roof insulation. There are situations when it is best to insulate the ceiling instead of the roof. Insulating the ceiling in your home is much easier than insulating the roof. 

It is an easy DIY project that will work best if you have a small attic space that you don’t use for extra storage. If you don’t have an attic but a crawl space, then ceiling insulation is the best option for you. 

If you have a cathedral ceiling (slanted roof), the ceiling will be partially insulated as well as the roof. If you have vaulted ceilings, it is better to insulate the ceiling because there is a cavity or space that separates the roof and interior of the house from the roofline.

What Are The 3 Pros Of Insulating Your Ceiling?

Insulating the ceiling has a lot of advantages, like affordability, you can save on your electricity bill, there is less planning involved, and it is environmentally friendly. 

  1. Insulating The Ceiling Is More Affordable

Insulating your ceiling instead of the roof is much more affordable. There are a few reasons for this, such as: 

  • You don’t need to add extra air vents, pipes, or air holes to ensure air circulation. It’s important because you decrease the risk of damp building up on the ceiling rafters.  
  • You also save a lot of money on heating bills because with proper circulation, your house will be warmer for longer, and now warm air will escape, thus decreasing the amount of power you use.
  • It is more cost-effective because you can buy loose-fill insulation in bulk, saving a lot of money.
  • You can tackle it as a DIY project because you can hire a blower from your local hardware store or spread it by hand.
  1. Insulating The Ceiling Needs Less Planning

Insulating the ceiling is a better option when you don’t want to use a contractor. Insulating the roof is more complicated. You can easily insulate the ceiling without professional help. Keeping the amount of time, you will work on the insulation to a minimum.

  1. Insulating The Ceiling Is Eco-friendly

The effect on the environment is a broad subject, but I will say that because you are using less energy to warm your home, fewer gasses escape into the atmosphere, so it is a little more eco-friendly. 

What Are The 3 Cons Of Insulating Your Ceiling?

While insulating your ceiling is a great way to save time and money, it also comes with a few disadvantages.

  • If you have an old home, the chances are that there are draughts, cracks, and holes that will render ceiling insulation useless, so you need to install roof insulation to cover these areas better. 
  • It will happen at times that you want to install ceiling insulation, but you might have to install roof insulation.

When Is It Best To Insulate The Roof?

when is it best to insulate the roof

While insulating the ceiling is a cost-effective way of insulating your home, there are times when insulating the roof of your home is a better option than insulating the ceiling. Insulating your home’s roof is crucial if the ceiling is part of the roof deck.

Roof insulation is better for older homes that might have draughty rafters. Roof insulation will ensure there are no gaps or cracks where heat could escape. It is also a moisture barrier and will keep any dampness from damaging your roof. 

Roof insulation is more expensive as you might need to hire a contractor. Contractors will inspect your roof for any leaks, cracks and seal them up. They will install the extra vents and pipes to create better air circulation. 

Overall, it is better to install insulation in the roof if you are looking for a long-term solution.

The 3 Pros Of Insulating Your Roof

There are a few advantages of insulating the roof of your house instead of the ceiling. 

  1. More Energy Efficient

According to the Florida Solar Energy Center, it offers distinct advantages to insulate your roof, such as energy efficiency. When you live in areas with a warmer climate and have air conditioning, the cold air will remain cold as the air circulates in the home and stays cool.

The same goes for warm air in the winter. When the warm air hits the insulation in the roof, the warm air gets circulated and doesn’t escape through the roof.

  1. It Protects From Moisture Damage

Frost and ice dams will damage your roof if you don’t properly insulate the home. So insulating your roof will prevent the ice and frost from absorbing into your roof and won’t cause damage. The insulation will stop any moisture issues if fixed before the roof is insulated.

  1. It Helps Control Noise

When insulating your roof, it acts not only as a barrier to protect from damage of the outside elements but acts as a noise dampener also. The insulation is like a barrier between the noise outside and inside the house. Keeping all the clamor of the outside world at bay.

The 3 Cons To Insulating Your Roof

Insulating your roof is a great idea, but there are some disadvantages to insulating the roof instead of the ceiling.

  1. Insulating The Roof Needs A Lot Of Planning

When you decide to insulate the roof, you can’t install the insulation without planning. You need to plan out the insulation installation carefully, especially if you’re going to do it yourself. However, it’s not advised. It’s usually best to hire a contractor to install the insulation.

  1. Insulating the Roof Is More Expensive

Insulating the roof is more expensive than insulating the ceiling, as you might need to install extra vents and air ducts. That is why it is better to hire a professional contractor to install your roof insulation. It is more expensive to hire a contractor.

  1. You Need To Hire A Contractor

If you have to insulate the roof, it is best to have a contractor install it; it is more expensive overall because the contractor knows the regulations in place. So, installing the roof insulation in a DIY project might not be the best course of action. 

Cathedral And Vaulted Ceilings

The difference between a cathedral and a vaulted ceiling will determine how they need to be insulated, as some types of ceilings do need a specific way of insulation.

Cathedral Ceilings

Cathedral ceilings run partly parallel with the roof so that it will require a level of roof insulation, and the rest should be ceiling insulation. You need to install these half and half insulations to ensure the best insulation for your home.

Vaulted Ceilings

Vaulted ceilings are a bit easier to work with; these ceilings don’t necessarily need roof insulation because there is an air space that separates the living area from the roof. You can choose what insulation best suits your home’s needs.

Tips For Installing Insulation In Your Roof And Ceiling

It’s not always easy to install insulation, but here are some useful tips to help you if you decide to tackle insulating your home in a DIY project.

  • Look for any roof or pipe leaks, cracks, or holes and fix them before you start installing the insulation because if you have any open crevices and they are not closed off, your insulation won’t be effective. 
  • Ensure you wear the right kind of protective gear while insulating your ceiling or roof. It’s best to use protective eyewear and a face mask, so you don’t get any loose fibers in your face. Long-sleeved overalls will also keep the irritating fibers at bay.
  • You need to know how much insulation you need. Certain areas need a higher degree of insulation. You can call your town’s building department to ensure you add the right type and amount of insulation.
  • Keep the vents open when installing the insulation, this way, you have enough air circulation.  If there is no air circulation, it might cause condensation and moisture build-up, and you might get mold or mildew.
  • Don’t squeeze the air out of the insulation; air helps with insulation, which is why insulation is so light. If you squeeze out the air, the insulation becomes much less effective.
  • Choose the right kind of insulation for your needs. You can buy several types of insulation: foam, loose-fill, rigid insulation boards, bat insulation, and structural insulation panels. 
  • When you feel that the DIY has too many variables that you did not anticipate, it might be best to call in an expert contractor to help you get insulation installed correctly.
  • Seal of any drafts to any windows or openings. It will ensure no warmth will escape your home through these gaps. You can do this easily by using shrink plastic and a hairdryer to pre-insulate those spaces.
  • Make sure to use insulation with the right R-value for your roof or ceiling. It will ensure that your roof or ceiling gets the right degree of insulation. 
  • Install the insulation east to west; that way, you cover any gaps in the insulation and save a bit more energy. 
  • Remember to plan out every part of the process; that way, you won’t forget anything, and you can plan around any issues you might find before starting your installation.


In the end, I chose to go with loose-fill insulation as it was the most affordable option, and I had a vaulted ceiling. Choosing between insulating the roof or the ceiling will have to be made after weighing up all the different factors of your home.

Remember to use the proper protective gear and hire a professional if you don’t know how to install the insulation in your home. The best option when deciding whether to insulate the roof or the ceiling would be to choose the option that will work best in the long run.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.