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Why Radiant Barrier?

The How, What, and Why about Radiant Barrier insulation

5 Factors on The Effect of Dust on Radiant Barrier

Radiant Barrier Installed on the Attic Floor

Will Dust Affect Attic Radiant Barrier?

The truth is that dust settling on top of a radiant barrier in an attic may or may not affect the performance when installed over ceiling installation. The effect dust has on radiant barrier depends on a number of different factors. Under certain circumstances, dust may have very little effect on the radiant barrier’s performance, but every home in every climate can be different. The following considerations can help you determine whether or not you will have a problem with dust in your attic once a radiant barrier has be installed:

1. The amount of dust that has accumulated

Just take a look in your attic. This is the quickest and easiest way to decide if dust will be a problem. If you don’t see large accumulations of dust up there already, then chances are you shouldn’t have any problem with dust after you install radiant barrier.

2. The accumulation time for dust in your attic

The time it takes dust to accumulate is another thing to consider. Maybe you found that some dust had accumulated around certain areas in your attic, making you question installing radiant barrier on the attic floor. Before you make that decision, consider the age of your home. For example, if your home is 15 years-old, then it has taken 15 years for the dust accumulation you see there to form. If you install radiant barrier, it would take at least another 15 years before that much dust were to accumulate on the radiant barrier.

3. The properties of dust and how it settles

If after completing steps 1 and 2 you found dust accumulation in your attic around certain areas, take a closer look at it. Research studies conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Texas A&M University show that particle size and composition play a big part in how much the dust will impact a radiant barrier’s performance. Large, course dust particles will have less of an impact on the radiant barrier than finer particles. That’s why it is important to take a closer look at the dust in your attic.

Even heavy accumulations of dust don’t create a solid covering on the radiant barrier, leaving the exposed areas to continue blocking 95% of radiant heat. Tennessee Valley Authority’s dust study revealed that even a heavy dust accumulation seemed to have little effect on the radiant barrier’s performance. Below is a highly magnified image of a heavy coating of dust. As you can see, even with this very large amount of dust, there are still large areas that would be completely unaffected by dust.

Highly magnified image of dust accumulation.

4. The amount of ventilation in your attic

A study conducted by Texas A&M University showed that dust tends to accumulate around attic vents. If you have no vents or only a small number of vents in your attic, in most cases only very small  amounts of dust will ever enter your attic and you shouldn’t have a problem with accumulation.

Vent size and power are also important considerations. Larger vents or power vents typically move more air and lead to greater air velocities in an attic, and as a result can bring in more dust. Even in the case of a well-vented attic with a lot of airflow, dust will tend to accumulate near the vents, leaving the rest of your radiant barrier less unaffected by dust.

5. Radiant barrier installation methods

If you have gone through these steps and are still concerned about dust in your attic, don’t give up on the benefits of radiant barrier. Consider an alternative installation method where dust cannot deter the performance of radiant barrier. Dust is only a factor where the radiant barrier is installed on the floor of the attic over any existing insulation. In other applications where radiant barrier is stapled up with an air space below, dust can not and settle upward, and the radiant barrier will continue to reflect heat indefinitely.


For more information on installing radiant barrier and how radiant barrier can save your money and energy please contact us or give us a call at 1-800-825-0123.

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