Radiant Barriers Worth Extra Cost?

What is Radiant Barrier and is It Worth the Extra Cost on a Bay Area Roof?

Radiant barrier is a member of the insulation family, but most homeowners are more familiar with fiberglass, cellulose and other home insulation materials. Radiant barrier is a sheet of insulation that reflects radiant heat energy instead of absorbing it. Like all roofing or home insulation products, it is designed to keep your home comfortable and energy costs down.

For roofing applications, radiant barrier looks like a big sheet of aluminum foil on one side of the oriented strand board (OSB). OSB is used for roof decking. The roofer nails the asphalt roofing shingles to the board and the radiant barrier faces the home’s interior to help retain heat in the winter and reflect heat in the summer.

When you get a roofing quote from a Bay Area roofing company, it may include an additional cost for radiant barrier. OSB roof decking with radiant barrier typically runs a few dollars more per sheet than regular roof decking. Roofing an average Santa Clara or San Mateo home takes approximately 100 sheets of roof decking. Installing radiant barrier with a new roof adds additional cost ranging from $300 to $500.

A new roof is a significant investment for Bay Area homeowners. Is paying extra for radiant barrier worth the extra money? Personal experience roofing thousands of Bay Area homes and the research data point to no. The U.S. Department of Energy agrees that it makes more sense to install additional insulation rather than radiant barrier in cooler climates. 

Signature Roofing recommends saving your money because in our temperate Bay Area climate, radiant barrier isn’t necessary unless your home has no attic space for roof ventilation. This is the case for homes with vaulted or cathedral ceilings.

Radiant barrier is best suited for roofing in areas that experience more extreme levels of hot and cold temperatures along with higher heating and cooling bills. Radiant barrier does its job much better in new construction residential roofing where there is no existing skip sheeting that covers a majority of the foil. Ideally, this product should be installed along with roofing in new construction homes without attic ventilation located in desert heat. Those conditions certainly don’t exist in the Bay Area.

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