The average radiant barrier cost for parts and labor is $1,700, or between $710 and $2,840.
Labor rates, the total surface area, and the type of radiant barrier selected are the biggest factors in determining the cost to install radiant barriers.
From energy savings and decreased emissions to improved home comfort and reduced humidity, the benefits of radiant barriers in the attic are worth the cost of installation.
One-sided barriers are fairly simple for experienced DIY installation, but for maximum energy savings and the safest installation, homeowners usually opt to hire a professional installer.
There aren’t many home improvement projects that can enhance both comfort and energy efficiency as much as a radiant barrier. In fact, radiant barriers are gaining recognition among homeowners looking for a smarter, more eco-friendly way to regulate their home’s indoor temperature.
Radiant barriers are reflective materials strategically placed in a home’s attic to reflect heat. They help keep a home cooler and lessen the load on the air conditioner, resulting in impressive energy savings. Installing a radiant barrier can help make a home more comfortable while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a homeowner’s carbon footprint.
But how much does a radiant barrier cost? It depends on a few factors, such as the surface area and local labor costs, but homeowners can expect to pay an average cost of $1,700, according to HomeAdvisor and Angi. The typical range for materials and installation is $710 to $2,840, leaving homeowners with some guesswork as they budget for a radiant barrier project. Homeowners can estimate their radiant barrier costs by learning about several price-influencing factors, such as surface area to be covered, labor fees, the type of radiant barrier selected, and more.
Factors in Calculating Radiant Barrier Cost
While the average cost for radiant barrier installation can help set a budget, the final price isn’t set in stone. Between variances in material quality and type as well as fluctuations in local labor rates, there are several components homeowners can keep in mind when calculating radiant barrier expenses.
Radiant barrier materials typically come in rolls or sheets, making it simple to break down their costs by the square foot. When homeowners are estimating the cost of a radiant barrier attic installation, the surface area is one of the most influential factors to consider. The surface area includes the square footage of the attic floor, walls, roof, and other areas where the material is applied—the more surface area to cover, the higher the cost. The cost estimate is similar to the cost estimate for the best attic insulation, which is also measured by the square foot.
Homeowners can expect to pay as little as $0.10 per square foot for basic radiant barrier materials. This is a bargain compared to many other types of insulation and average insulation costs. However, the radiant barrier price per square foot can be as high as $0.95 for higher-end products. These prices are for materials only.
One-Sided vs. Two-Sided
Installing a radiant barrier roof can improve a home’s interior comfort level and energy efficiency. However, the type of radiant barrier selected plays a significant role in determining the extent of efficiency improvement.
One-sided and two-sided radiant barriers are two of the most common options. Two-sided foil is recommended when homeowners are installing a radiant barrier over insulation in an attic floor. Even if the top side is affected by dust or debris, the foil side facing the insulation will continue to perform.
One-sided foil is better for metal roof applications, specifically where the foil is placed against the roof deck. This allows for adequate ventilation without sacrificing crucial heat reflection.
Two-sided foil radiant barrier is more expensive than the one-sided variety: up to $0.90 per square foot. One-sided foil can be as low as $0.10 per square foot or as much as $0.25 per square foot of material.
Labor fees for radiant barrier installation can make up a large portion of the overall cost. On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $30 and $80 per hour for labor. The final cost depends on several factors, including the following:
Local labor rates
Size of the installation team
Experience and expertise of the installation team
Accessibility to the installation area
Generally speaking, complex jobs cost more than projects that are more straightforward in nature. Labor is also likely to cost more in areas with a higher cost of living or increased demand. Homeowners are encouraged to request detailed estimates from several radiant barrier installers to shop for the best value.
Radiant barrier insulation costs can vary throughout the year, depending on the season. During the summer, demand for radiant barrier installation is more likely to increase, driving costs up.
While this can be inconvenient for homeowners seeking to reduce their cooling costs during the warm summer months, it opens the door for off-peak savings during the fall and winter. Reduced demand often encourages lower labor rates and material prices. Homeowners budgeting for a radiant barrier installation should consider the time of year and plan ahead to minimize costs.
Radiant Barrier vs. Reflective Insulation
Understanding the difference between radiant barrier and reflective insulation can help homeowners choose the appropriate material and properly budget for installation.
Radiant barriers are primarily designed to block radiant heat. They don’t possess an R-value, which measures how much heat is blocked by insulation. They’re also typically installed as standalone sheets costing between $0.10 and $0.90 per square foot for materials alone.
Reflective insulation is made of insulating material and combines the reflective properties of a radiant barrier with thermal insulation. The added insulation benefit makes reflective insulation more costly, with material prices per square foot ranging from $0.30 to $0.80.
Types of Radiant Barriers
Just as there are several types of insulation, there are also multiple radiant barrier options—each offering unique features and price ranges. Some of the most common radiant barrier materials and designs are foil, one-sided, spray-on, and two-sided.
Type of Radiant Barrier
Average Cost (Materials Only)
$0.10 to $1.10 per square foot
$0.10 to $0.25 per square foot
$250 to $400 for 500 to 2,000 square feet
$0.10 to $0.90 per square foot
Foil-based insulation can come in various forms, including radiant barrier foils (one-sided and two-sided) and reflective insulation. Foil-based radiant barriers are available from multiple brands, all with unique features, price points, and installation requirements.
Foil radiant barriers are often used in attics and roof applications, though reflective insulation can also be used in walls and crawl spaces. The cost of foil-based radiant barrier can vary significantly by brand and type. Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $0.10 to $1.10 per square foot and get up to 90 percent of the radiant heat blocked.
Foil-Based Radiant Barrier Brand
Average Cost Per Square Foot (Materials Only)
$0.15 to $0.25
$0.20 to $0.30
$1.10 to $1.60
$0.30 to $0.40
$0.15 to $0.20
$1.10 to $1.60
$0.10 to $0.60
For homeowners on a budget, a one-sided radiant barrier is typically more cost-effective than a two-sided option. Material prices typically range from $0.10 to $0.25 per square foot.
One-sided radiant barrier performs best where radiant heat comes primarily from one direction. It’s also ideal for installing a radiant barrier under metal roofing, though adequate attic ventilation is essential to ensure the reflected heat can escape.
One-sided radiant is a common choice for DIY installations, since it can be installed over existing insulation. Once installed, the material generally requires minimal maintenance, though routine inspections are recommended to ensure it remains in place.
While radiant barrier spray isn’t quite as effective as a traditional foil-based barrier (radiant has about 75 percent to 85 percent heat block), it can still significantly reduce heat transfer through a home’s roof. A 5-gallon bucket of spray-on radiant barrier costs between $250 and $400. This quantity can cover an area ranging from 500 to 2,000 square feet, depending on the brand. Additional DIY supplies to complete a spray-on barrier can cost as much as $950, so leaving a radiant barrier spray to a pro who has all the right equipment is best.
As the name suggests, a two-sided radiant barrier offers an enhanced thermal performance by reflecting radiant heat from both sides. It’s effective in both hot and cold climates, as it reflects heat during the summer and retains warmth in the cooler months. It’s a versatile material that can be applied in attic installations, wall insulation, and even under roof decking.
Two-sided radiant barrier does have a higher cost than one-sided. It’s also more complex to install, ruling out a DIY installation in most cases. Homeowners can expect to pay as much as $0.90 per square foot for a two-sided radiant barrier—plus labor costs.
Benefits of Choosing Radiant Barrier Insulation
Many benefits come with choosing to install radiant barriers in the attic. From cost savings to environmental benefits, radiant barriers have much to offer homeowners. Some of the most compelling reasons to choose radiant barrier insulation include reduced energy costs, improved home comfort, decreased emissions, and humidity resistance.
Reduced Energy Costs
There’s no doubt that installing a radiant barrier is an up-front investment. Yet the long-term savings can pay off, even if it’s installed only on the coldest or hottest area of a roof. Radiant barrier material reflects radiant heat away from a home’s living space, reducing the need for excessive air conditioning during hot weather. In the winter, a radiant barrier can redirect back into a home the heat that’s attempting to escape, potentially lowering heating costs. Reduced energy costs translate to lower monthly utility bills, saving homeowners money over time and helping keep their homes safe and comfortable.
Improved Home Comfort
Hot spots, temperature swings, and an ongoing battle to keep every room of a house comfortable throughout the day can frustrate many home occupants. But radiant barriers can make it easier to keep a home at a consistent, comfortable temperature. The personal benefits of a more comfortable home are impressive, from better sleep quality to increased productivity and reduced stress.
Radiant barriers can be used in several ways to improve home comfort. For example, installing radiant barriers in attic spaces can reduce heat transfer, while placing a barrier beneath the roof shingles can minimize hot spots. However, it’s essential to include a substantial gap when using a radiant barrier under shingles to prevent any issues.
Homes with radiant heat barrier attics reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by air conditioning units. By requiring less energy to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, homes with radiant barriers promote responsible energy use.
While some green home improvement projects can be impractical or overly expensive to implement, radiant barriers offer a simple and cost-effective way for homeowners to decrease their carbon emissions while enjoying a more comfortable home.
Spending time in a home with excessive humidity levels can increase the likelihood of residents contracting viruses or experiencing respiratory infections. Humidity in a home can also damage wood, wallpaper, and paint while creating an ideal breeding ground for toxic mold and mildew. Some pests, including dust mites and cockroaches, prefer humidity and can quickly infest an excessively humid home.
Radiant barriers don’t just protect against heat; they also act as a barrier against moisture and help prevent water vapor from infiltrating a home, which makes them a viable option for reducing humidity. With more resistance to humidity, the indoor environment is likely to be more comfortable and cool. Mold and mildew are less likely to become an issue, and better indoor air quality can lead to improved respiratory health.
Radiant Barrier Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Radiant barrier installation can be a significant investment. While it’s easy for homeowners to see the potential benefits of radiant barriers, many homeowners often wonder if installing their own radiant barrier can save on costs.
However, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends hiring a professional radiant barrier installer rather than taking a DIY approach. A radiant barrier can’t work properly if incorrectly installed, and working with a professional nearly guarantees radiant barrier effectiveness—not to mention a safe installation around electrical wires.
DIY radiant barrier installation is possible for a homeowner experienced with home improvement projects, but it will likely take much longer, and the savings may not work out once personal time and equipment are factored in.
There are pros and cons to both scenarios. Experienced DIY installation might save on labor costs, and homeowners can work independently around their schedules. However, the process requires specific knowledge, and working in attics can also be hazardous without proper safety precautions.
On the other hand, working with a professional ensures proper installation for maximum effectiveness and safety to avoid potential issues with exposed electrical wires. An experienced pro can complete the job quickly and efficiently while prioritizing safety. Professional installations also often include warranties.
While additional costs come with hiring a professional, working with one of the best insulation contractors (such as Dr. Energy Saver) offers long-term benefits that can outweigh higher up-front costs. Hiring a professional can also guarantee a proper installation if a homeowner is uncertain about the DIY process.
How to Save Money on Radiant Barrier Cost
While the long-term benefits of radiant barriers are well worth it, some homeowners may wonder if the cost is too far of a stretch for their budget. However, there are several ways to minimize initial costs without sacrificing a quality installation or future energy savings.
Compare multiple quotes. It’s best to seek multiple quotes from different professionals to find the one that offers the best value.
Choose the best material. High-quality materials, while more costly up front, offer better long-term performance and potential energy savings, which can save money down the road.
Combine with other projects. Combining radiant barrier installation costs with attic insulation costs or other home construction projects can save on total labor costs.
Maximize tax credits. Homeowners can check to see if they’re eligible for any tax credits related to energy-efficient home improvements, including radiant barriers.
Ask about financing. Financing options or payment plans without interest can help a homeowner reap the benefits of a radiant barrier without having to pay the full cost up front.
Keep up with maintenance. Properly maintaining a radiant barrier helps ensure it will continue to perform without costly repairs or premature replacement.
Questions to Ask About Radiant Barrier Installation
When homeowners are looking for the best radiant barrier attic installation services, it’s essential to narrow down the list of companies, removing those that may be less experienced or overpriced. Homeowners can ask potential radiant barrier installers some of the following questions to help make an informed decision.
Are you licensed and insured for radiant barrier installation in my area?
Do you have a list of references you can provide?
How long have you been installing radiant barriers?
What type of radiant barrier material do you recommend for my attic?
Can you explain your installation process?
How long can I expect the installation to take?
Do you offer any financing options?
Are you familiar with current radiant barrier tax credits or incentives?
How do you dispose of any existing insulation or materials removed during the installation?
What maintenance is required to ensure I get the most out of my investment in radiant barriers?
Radiant barriers can help lower energy bills and enhance indoor comfort. They also contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and can last for decades, making them a wise investment for homeowners looking to maintain their home’s temperature more easily.
For homeowners unsure of whether radiant barrier costs are worth the investment, the answers to frequently asked questions may provide additional insight and help with making an informed decision.
Q. How long do radiant barriers last?
Several factors influence the life expectancy of radiant barriers. Material quality is one of the most influential considerations, with high-quality materials often lasting longer. Proper installation is also key to long-lasting radiant barriers, since prolonged exposure to weather and humidity can shorten a radiant barrier’s lifespan. A properly installed and shielded radiant barrier made from premium materials can last for decades and, in some cases, longer than the building it’s installed in.
Q. Do radiant barriers affect your Wi-Fi?
Metallic materials can potentially interfere with Wi-Fi signals, and there are metallic components in a radiant barrier. However, it’s unlikely that a radiant barrier will cause serious issues with a home’s Wi-Fi service. Working with an experienced installer who understands proper placement of the radiant barrier in relation to existing Wi-Fi equipment can minimize potential issues.
Q. Are radiant barriers a fire hazard?
Experiments have shown that when an electrical current flows through a radiant barrier, the material can get hot enough to cause a fire. However, the risk isn’t found in the radiant barrier itself but rather in improper grounding of electrical wires. Ensuring proper grounding during installation can help maintain the safety of a radiant barrier system and minimize fire risks, which is another reason why a professional installer is the best option.
Q. How much energy does a radiant barrier save?
The amount of energy a radiant barrier can save depends on the local climate and the barrier's integration with proper insulation and ventilation systems. While the return on investment varies, radiant barriers are considered a cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency, with some homeowners saving as much as 10 percent on their heating bills.