Ashburn, VA

How much does radiant barrier installation cost?

$0.30 – $2.00 cost per square foot installed
$350 – $2,700 average cost to install in attic

Get free estimates from insulation companies near you, or view our cost guide below.

March 15, 2022

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 2 expert insulation contractors on HomeGuide.

Radiant barrier cost

Radiant barrier installation costs $0.30 to $2.00 per square foot for labor and materials. Installing an attic radiant barrier costs $350 to $2,700, depending on the attic size and install method. Radiant barrier spray costs $250 to $400 for materials to cover 500 to 2,000 square feet.

Radiant barrier installation cost - chart
Radiant barrier installation cost - chart

Radiant barrier cost
Square feet Total cost to install
500 $150 – $1,000
700 $210 – $1,400
1,000 $300 – $2,000
1,200 $360 – $2,400
1,500 $450 – $3,000
2,000 $600 – $4,000

Radiant barriers:

  • May save 5% to 10% on cooling costs.
  • Reflects 90%+ radiant heat away from the home, reducing attic temperatures by up to 30° F.
  • Are most effective in hot climates, but also reduces heat loss in the winter months.

Average attic radiant barrier cost

The following table shows the average cost to install a radiant barrier in an attic.

Attic radiant barrier cost
National average cost $1,600
Minimum cost $200
Maximum cost $5,000
Average cost range $350 to $2,700

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Radiant barrier installation cost

Insulation contractors charge $30 to $80 per hour or $0.20 to $1.40 per square foot, plus materials, to install a radiant barrier. Most radiant barriers are installed at the roof rafters or placed over the attic floor insulation.

Radiant barrier installation cost
Factor Average cost per square foot
Materials $0.10 – $0.60
Installation labor $0.20 – $1.40
Total cost to install $0.30 – $2.00

Contractor installing radiant barrier in attic
Contractor installing radiant barrier in attic

The following factors affect the cost to install a radiant barrier:

  • Attic size – Larger attics require more radiant barrier material and labor.
  • Barrier type – Reflective, low-emittance paint may cost less than radiant barrier foil. Still, most spray-on barrier coatings are not as effective and are not considered true radiant barriers.
  • Quality – Higher quality materials cost more but are more durable. A radiant barrier is typically a one-time purchase as its effectiveness does not degrade.
  • Attic insulation costs $1 to $4 per square foot on average. A radiant barrier combined with thermal attic insulation combats all heat transfer types – radiation, conduction, and convection.
  • Attic fan installation costs $300 to $900. A radiant barrier may cause damage if the attic is not adequately ventilated.
  • New construction vs. existing home – Adding a radiant barrier during new home construction is typically cheaper. The radiant barrier is often installed as part of the roof deck, requiring no additional labor.

One-sided vs. two-sided foil insulation prices

Radiant barrier foil insulation prices are $0.10 to $1.10 per square foot for the material alone, depending on the type. Two-sided radiant barrier foil is up to 50% more effective than single-sided foil when installed with air space on both sides.

Foil insulation prices
Foil type Price per square foot*
One-sided foil $0.10 – $0.30
Two-sided foil $0.15 – $1.10

*Not including installation

  • The reflective side of one-sided radiant barrier foil should face the main attic space.
  • Use two-sided foil when installing a radiant barrier over attic floor insulation. The side facing the thermal insulation continues to perform if the top side is affected by dust accumulation.
  • One-sided foil is ideal for metal roof applications where the foil is installed against the roof deck and battens create a gap between the foil and the roof tiles.

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Price of radiant barrier by brand

The following table reflects current pricing for popular radiant barrier brands. The prices for radiant barrier foil typically decreases when purchasing larger quantities.

Price of radiant barrier by brand
Brand Price range per square foot Type
ARMA FOIL $0.15 – $0.25 Radiant barrier
Attic Foil $0.20 – $0.30 Radiant barrier
Fi-Foil Silver Shield / Radiant Shield $0.30 – $0.40 Radiant barrier
Radiant GUARD $0.15 – $0.20 Radiant barrier
US Energy Products $0.10 – $0.60 Radiant barrier
eShield $1.10 – $1.60 Reflective insulation
Solar Eclipse $1.10 – $1.20 Reflective insulation

*Not including installation

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eShield radiant barrier cost

An eShield radiant barrier costs $2.50 to $3.00 per square foot installed on average. eShield is multilayer reflective insulation combining a radiant barrier with a high-density fiberglass insulation center. eShield's radiant barrier provides 97% reflectivity and an R-value of 11.6.

eShield installation sometimes includes attic air sealing. Confirm the details with your installer.

Radiant barrier vs. reflective insulation cost

A radiant barrier reflects radiant heat but has no R-value. Reflective insulation costs $0.60 to $2.40 per square foot with installation. Reflective insulation contains a one- or two-sided radiant barrier with a middle thermal insulation layer providing an R-value of R-3 to R-21.

Radiant barrier vs. reflective insulation cost
Type Material price per square foot Total cost installed per square foot
Radiant barrier $0.10 – $0.60 $0.30 – $2.00
Reflective insulation $0.30 – $0.80 $0.50 – $2.20

The terms "radiant barrier" and "reflective insulation" are often used interchangeably, but they are different materials.

  • Use a radiant barrier to block radiant heat.
  • Use reflective insulation when an additional R-value is needed to satisfy building codes or regulations.
  • Radiant barriers and reflective insulation both require air space to be effective.

Radiant barrier cost savings

Installing a radiant barrier can save $45 to $90 per year on cooling costs in hot climates or $12 to $24 per year on average in cooler regions. Radiant barrier cost savings also depend on the home's thermal insulation levels and orientation to the sun.

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DIY radiant barrier spray cost

Radiant barrier spray costs $250 to $400 per 5-gallon bucket, which covers 500 to 2,000 square feet, depending on the brand. Additional DIY supplies cost $220 to $950.

Reflective barrier sprays are ceramic paint solutions with metallic additives, typically sprayed on the underside of the roof deck. Radiant barrier sprays are not true radiant barriers because they only block 75% to 85% of radiant heat. Radiant barrier foil blocks 90% or more radiant heat.

DIY radiant barrier spray cost
Item Average price
Airless paint sprayer $100 – $600
Coveralls $10 – $20
Disposable shoe booties $4 –$10
Drop cloths $5 – $30
Extension cord $10 – $40
Gloves $2 – $8
Goggles $5 – $30
Hand drill $25 – $80
Mixer $5 – $30
Plywood pieces (moveable flooring) $8 – $30
Respirator $15 – $50
Spray tip $25 – $40
Some "radiant barrier" paints are designed for exterior surfaces, like metal roofs. Other reflective barrier sprays are meant for application inside the attic.

How much radiant barrier do I need?

Follow these steps to determine how much radiant barrier you need:

  • If installing the barrier over the attic floor insulation, measure the attic's square footage.
  • If stapling the barrier to the roof rafters:
    1. Measure the length and width of each roof surface.
    2. Subtract 6 inches from the length measurement to account for a 3-inch ventilation space needed at the top and bottom.
    3. Multiply the width by the reduced length
    4. Add the roof surface totals together.
If unable to measure the roof surfaces, count the plywood sheets from inside the attic, then multiply the sheet number by 32. A typical plywood sheet is 32 square feet.

Frequently asked questions

What is a radiant barrier, and does it work?

A radiant barrier is a material that reflects 90% or more radiant heat, reducing heat transfer to the home's interior. Radiant barriers are typically made of aluminum bonded to high-strength paper or fabric and are installed in an attic to reduce incoming heat from the roof.

  • Radiant barriers are most effective in hot climates, but they also reduce heat loss in the winter months.
  • A radiant barrier is not a substitute for thermal insulation because it only addresses heat radiation, not conduction or convection.
  • Metal roofs reflect radiant energy, but metal-roofed homes may still benefit from a radiant barrier, depending on the roof color and material.
  • Radiant barriers may interfere with TV antennas. The impact on cell phone reception is typically minimal unless the home has a weak signal.
  • Wi-Fi signals are not affected by radiant barriers since the signal comes from the router inside the home.

Is a radiant barrier worth it?

A radiant barrier may be worth it in hot climates and homes with attic ductwork. When installed at the roof rafters, a radiant barrier reduces attic temperatures by up to 30° F. Cooler regions benefit more from adding additional thermal insulation instead.

Pros and cons of radiant barrier
Pros Cons
  • May save 5% – 10%+ on energy bills
  • Does not support bacteria or mold growth
  • Does not break down with moisture or time
  • Non-toxic
  • Dust buildup may reduce its efficiency.
  • Does not block heat conduction or convection; should be combined with other insulation types
  • Not as effective in cold climates

How much energy does a radiant barrier save?

Installing a radiant barrier saves 5% to 10% or more on cooling costs, depending on the climate. Warm regions may save over 15% during the summer months. A radiant barrier provides energy savings of 10 to 20 kWh per month, depending on the home's ventilation, thermal insulation, and orientation to the sun.

Can you put a radiant barrier over insulation?

You can put a radiant barrier over existing insulation. Still, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends against this due to trapped moisture and dust buildup reducing the barrier's effectiveness over time. Stapling a radiant barrier to the roof rafters works better and is ideal for hot climates or attics with ductwork.

Can you put a radiant barrier under shingles?

A radiant barrier requires air space to be effective and should not be installed directly under shingles. A radiant barrier sandwiched between the shingles and roof deck without an air gap becomes a heat conductor and provides fire resistance but hinders energy efficiency.

Does a radiant barrier qualify for a tax credit?

A radiant barrier may qualify for a federal tax credit and state tax incentives as radiant barriers improve home energy efficiency. Check the Energy Star rebate finder and the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) for available rebates and tax incentives in your area.

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Tips for hiring radiant barrier insulation installers

Before hiring insulation contractors, be sure to:

  • Get at least three quotes to compare.
  • Look for pros experienced in radiant barrier installation.
  • Browse their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business for more than five years.
  • Ask for references. Check with previous customers on the company's performance and whether they have seen energy savings since the installation.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Use a payment plan instead for work completed.

Questions to ask contractors

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What experience do you have with radiant barriers?
  • Do you recommend radiant barriers or reflective insulation for my home, and why?
  • Should I install the radiant barrier at the rafters or over the attic floor insulation?
  • Will a radiant barrier work better than adding more thermal insulation? Why or why not?
  • Do you have customers in the area I could contact for a reference?
  • Is air sealing included in the estimate?
  • Can I be in the house during the insulation process?
  • How long will the project take?
  • How long should the insulation last?
  • Is there a warranty, and if so, what does it include?
  • What is and is not included in the price?
  • What additional costs should I expect?
  • Are there any rebates available, and do you apply for them?

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