Special radiant barrier paints do not do as good a job as radiant barriers made of double-faced aluminum foil. However, there are times that the paint method is the best you can do.
As an example, a reader of mine has a finished room in the attic over his garage. That room is very hard to cool in the heat of summer. There just is no easy access to add insulation or radiant barrier foil. Building the walls inward is possible. Adding an extra layer of foam board insulation, foil heat barrier and another layer of wallboard is a lot of work. It would make a small room even smaller.
An alternative that is in the range of easy do-it-yourself projects is refinishing the room using water based radiant barrier paint. The best radiant barrier paints are loaded with two ingredients that help reduce the flow of heat through a wall.
The first ingredient is flakes of shiny aluminum. This is what reflects the heat back to where it came from.
The second ingredient is micro sized hollow spheres of a ceramic material. Being hollow makes them good insulation. I envision them as a layer of tiny ping-pong balls glued together by the paint and aluminum flake mixture. Plastic ping-pong balls might break. Ceramic is hard enough to take the abuse of being brushed or sprayed. Remember ceramic insulation is what NASA uses on the space shuttles.
A couple of thin coats of paint may not seem like an effective energy stopper but they are. The aluminum will reflect a substantial percentage of the radiant heat. One of the best ways of making effective insulation is to layer different materials sandwich fashion. Radiant barrier paint does both.
Unless you like gray walls, you will need to add a finish coat, or two, of decorator color on top of the radiant barrier paint.
Adding radiant barrier paint to the ceiling and walls will reduce the summer time heat flow into that room. In my example of a room over the garage, painting the ceiling of the garage is a good idea too.
The really good news is that this work will pay off in the winter heating season too. The radiant barrier paint will reflect the heat back in preventing it from escaping to the cold outdoors.
You will see an improvement in comfort and on your energy bills. You may avoid the cost of buying a bigger air conditioner.
My recommended source for radiant barrier paint is Insuladd .
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