Does your basement conversion need r13 insulation or higher?

With any basement conversion, you need to consider the insulation needed to make the space not only livable, but comfortable and enjoyable, too. What level of insulation you need depends on a number of factors, but with r13 insulation seen as a standard, is this enough for your basement?

We’re going to look at what the different factors are involved and what you need to know before making a decision, or whether you want to aim higher and reach r30 insulation, for example.

Planning your basement conversion


Before starting any work on a basement conversion, there’s plenty to consider. The size of the basement, the climate you live in, the insulation of your home - and anything already installed beneath the ground floor of your property - and much more.

What do you want to do with it?

The big question to ask before any conversion is what do you want to do with the space? This is the same with an attic conversion or home extension. Knowing what this space will be used for will help you determine what insulation you need for it.

If it’s a room you’ll spend a lot of time in, you’ll want better quality insulation, but if it’s going to be used on odd occasions and for storage, you might not need expensive materials. Guest rooms, home offices and cellars can all fall into this category of lighter uses, while hobby rooms, dens, permanent bedrooms and similar uses will be used more often.

What kind of climate do you live in?

The weather changes throughout the year and seasons, so temperatures are going to fluctuate. The beauty of good insulation is that it will keep warm air in when you want it but also keep it out when you don’t.

This is why you need to decide whether r13 insulation is better than a higher number, as more heat will be trapped inside with a higher number. During hot weather, this could work against you somewhat unless you have an air conditioning unit installed.

In areas with more consistent colder climates, you might want to consider pushing to these higher levels, aiming for r30 insulation in some cases.

Reaching r13 insulation

While r13 insulation is a good baseline to aim for in most instances, you should think about the space that adding more insulation will take up. This all adds to the cost of your project while reducing what you can do there.

What is the R-value?

The R-value is how you calculate the effectiveness of your insulation. With a number of materials to choose from, you need to decide which is right for you for your budget. Every inch of material across a wall adds better thermal efficiency, which is why you need to know what the basement will be used for.

To find out more about R-values, you can read our guide and find out what values are recommended across the country.

What insulation options can you choose?

There are different materials and installation methods you can choose from, and each offers different amounts of efficiency.

  • Loose fill insulation - This insulation can be installed by hand, but can be difficult to get an even amount everywhere without a machine to spread it for you. It also needs a method to be secured in some areas.
  • Batts insulation - One of the easiest insulations to install, as you just need to unroll in the areas you want to insulate. Some also come with vapor barriers installed.
  • Spray insulation - Spray insulation is often a foam substance that can be more expensive than others, but it is easier to get an even amount on the areas you’re working on. Choose a great spray foam gun to make this easier to apply.

Some of the different materials include:

  • Fiberglass insulation - A very common insulation material that is also cost efficient. Different thicknesses alter the R-value.
  • Mineral wool insulation - Made from molten rock, it has a natural resistance to fire and is available to install in different ways, depending on what you’re looking to achieve.
  • Foam insulation - While spray foam is popular, there are also foam boards that are easy to install. They can also be cut to size to make sure they fit perfectly and leave no gaps.

Is r13 insulation enough for your basement?

Once you’ve worked out what R-value you want, such as r13 insulation for your walls or r30 insulation for your ceiling, you can decide which material and type to choose.

You can combine different materials in some cases to get the best balance of R-value for your budget, with r19 batts insulation a popular choice by homeowners, as it gives extra protection without having to add more layers in the future.

For walls, r13 insulation is a good choice in most instances, and because your basement is below the ground, there’s some natural protection from the earth around it. What you do need to check is that your vapor barrier is up to scratch with no holes or damage.

You’ll want to reach, or get close to, r30 insulation for ceilings and floors, however, to help with heat loss through the floors of your home. As heat rises, you want to minimise this loss from the lowest level to the highest. This is why you’ll find thicker layers of insulation on these areas, with r30 the goal in most cases.

Got questions about basement insulation?

As always, the final decision rests with you and what you need from your basement. Once you know what you’re using it for, it’ll be easier for you to decide the next steps.

It might sound tricky, but insulating your basement is no more difficult than any other area of your home. All you have to decide is what materials to use and what R-value you’re looking to reach.

If you’d like to know more about our insulation products, like what’s a good spray foam gun or the popular r19 batts insulation, contact our team at Insulation4US and we’ll be happy to help.