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San Antonio Roofing: Article About Radiant Heat Barriers

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In the world of San Antonio roofing, clients may hear a lot of talk about radiant barriers and scratch their heads. Though few people know what they are, radiant barriers are hugely important to maintaining energy efficiency during Texas summers because they relieve homeowners of the need to air condition their buildings aggressively. Radiant barriers are installed in building attics to prevent the penetration of heat into the building. Radiant barriers are made of materials that are reflective enough to direct radiant heat back into the atmosphere rather than allowing it to be absorbed.

Though the process may seem complex, radiant barriers are worth understanding in detail. They work by reflecting radiant heat that travels from a direct source like the sun. Instead of absorbing the heat as most materials would, radiant barriers work by reflecting the heat into the air above the installation, causing the air to warm up and rise out of the top of a building. Attics are drafty on purpose because they're meant to enable the flow of air through and out of buildings.

Radiant barriers therefore need to be installed in locations where there is a fair amount of space above to enable air circulation, which is why radiant barriers are not technically a roofing material. Radiant barriers are installed along the floor of attics and are made out of reflective materials like aluminum foil, which is attached to either or both sides of a base layer made from plastic film, cardboard, strand board or Tyvek sheeting.

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Some radiant barriers on the market are reinforced with fiber, which makes them more durable and easier to install.

Speaking of insulation, radiant barriers must be installed properly in order to give homeowners maximum energy saving benefits. Professional installation is recommended, but DIY installation can be done if the homeowner fully understands the principles behind the installation instructions. Because buildings differ in construction style and in attic configuration, it's important for installers to understand how building and fire codes will affect the installation of a radiant barrier.

Radiant barriers are most easily installed in new homes, but they can be easily integrated into open attics as well. In new builds, the barrier foil is draped between the rafters just below the roof sheathing to avoid dust buildup on the reflective surface. This can be done either before or after the roof sheathing is applied. Foil style radiant barriers must droop like a circus tent between points of attachment; there must always be at least 1 inch of space for air to circulate between the reflective barrier and the roof material. Otherwise, energy savings from reduced cooling costs will be minimal.

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