Insultex housewrap first came to the attention of GBA readers back in 2015, when questions about the product were posted on our Q&A pages. The distributor of Insultex, a housewrap that looks like Tyvek or Typar, is a Pittsburgh company called Innovative Designs. The company falsely claims that its housewrap has significant R-value. Innovative Designs sells two versions of Insultex, at a price that is from two to nine times higher than the price of ordinary housewrap. One version is 1 mm (0.0384 inch) thick; according to Innovative Designs, this product has an R-rating of R-3—in other words, R-78 per inch. The second version is 1.5 mm (0.0576 inch) thick; according to Innovative Designs, this product has an R-rating of R-6—in other words, R-104 per inch.
It’s important to establish a basic fact here: it’s impossible for a thin plastic housewrap that comes in a roll to have an R-value of R-78 or R-104 per inch. The theoretical maximum R-value for insulation products is generally about R-7.7 per inch, unless you’re talking about very expensive aerogels or vacuum-insulated panels (neither of which, incidentally, is capable of reaching R-78 per inch). This basic limiting factor for R-value has nothing to do with marketing or manufacturing methods; it has to do with physics. Needless to say, overturning the rules of physics is tough.
The outrageous R-value claims made by Innovative Designs Inc. (IDI) drew the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which sued the distributor for deceptive claims on November 3, 2016. In its press release announcing the suit, the FTC noted that Innovative Designs “claims R-values of either ‘R-3’ for its thinner product, or ‘R-6’ for its thicker product, and consequently, significant energy savings for consumers. However, IDI cannot substantiate these claims. Indeed, they are false. Even IDI’s…
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