Bubble Insulation, Bubble Wrap, Foil Only Radiant Barriers and Prodex Total - What's the Difference?

Bubble Insulation and Prodex Total are both suitable for metal buildings, pole barns, homes, attics, roofs, walls, crawlspaces, garages and more - Both are considered reflective insulation products, provide R-value, a radiant and vapor barrier protection. That's where the similarities end. 

Take a look at the photos below. Even if you didn't know anything about bubble wrap insulation or Prodex Total, which one would you choose? The obvious choice is Prodex Total. It has a high quality core that keeps its shape when exposed to forces. Prodex Total has a nominal thickness of 0.2 inch (5mm) and 0.4 inch (10mm) closed cell polyethylene foam covered on both sides with reinforced foil facing. Under pressure, the Prodex micro-cells do not collapse -- With a pressure of 6 PSI Prodex compresses just 6%. When the load is relieved it takes back its initial shape. The density of the foam is between 1.25 lb/ft (sq) - 1.87 lb/ft (sq). This gives the material real body.

Foil Only
Single Bubble
Double Bubble
Prodex Total 5M

Single Bubble Insulation For Sale

Reflective Bubble Reflective Insulation

4ft x 125 ft roll. Low-cost alternative to Prodex. Single bubble reflective insulation composed of 1 layer of 5/32 inch (4mm) polyethylene bubble sandwiched between two metalized, low emissivity surfaces. 

Reflective Bubble White Poly Insulation

4 ft x 125 ft roll. Single bubble reflective insulation composed of 1 layer of 5/32 inch (4mm) polyethylene bubble sandwiched between one metalized, low emissivity surface and white polyethylene.

What is the Difference between Single Bubble and Double Bubble Insulation?

Bubble insulation is composed of either one (single bubble) or two (double) layers of air bubbles sandwiched between two metalized surfaces. Once either is punctured, it collapses (POPS)! Single bubble has a nominal thickness of 5/32 inch. Double bubble measures 5/16 inch. These measurements bear little resemblance to the effective measurement of the products (photos above).

Single and Double Bubble Insulation can POP!

We see little difference between the performance of single and double bubble wrap insulation. The latter simply has a second layer of air bubbles (A balloon with more air). Although we strongly recommend Prodex Total over either, if your budget doesn't allow you to purchase the quality of Prodex, we suggest you order single bubble insulation rather than a double bubble. You'll get virtually all the benefits of the double bubble while saving money.

Because bubble insulation has a core composed of air rather than closed cell polyethylene foam, it lacks the long-term consistency in performance of Prodex Total Insulation.

Foil only products are typically perforated and composed of two metalized surfaces with a mesh woven in for strength. It is not a vapor barrier, it has no R-value - It is not insulation per se. It's a thin layer of reflective low emissivity film installed with an airspace to block radiant heat transfer between a surface that radiates heat. We refer to these products as foil only radiant barriers.

Unlike foil only products (no inner substance), Prodex Total protects against the energy transferred via conduction and convection. Prodex is a radiant barrier + insulation + Vapor Barrier. More than just a radiant barrier, Prodex Total is one solution for Heat, Cold, and Water. Prodex prevents condensation, heat from coming in and heat from getting out of your building!

Foil Only Products Are Not Insulation

Comparison Chart: Bubble Insulation, Foil Only Radiant Barrier and Prodex Total Insulation

Chart comparing double bubble insulation, single bubble and foil only radiant barriers to Prodex Total Insulation.jpg

Prodex partnered with Insulation4Less to develop Total Plus - Designed specifically for the U.S. and Canada - Higher R, Stonger and Safer. See Technical sheets: 10M5MWhite. Total Plus includes all the features of the premium ESD and ESW family of products produced by Prodex.

Beware of sellers using Prodex product images, descriptions and test results to market other products.

Prodex Total Difference: HIGER R | STRONGER | SAFER compared to Bubble Insulation

  • Reflective reinforced foil
  • Closed-cell polyethylene FOAM center
  • Seals around nails (no leak)
  • Keeps its shape over time (doesn't collapse)
  • Rippled surface increases airflow
  • Green product
  • Passes stringent fire tests (See technical data tab on product pages)
  • Does not promote mold or mildew
  • Does not provide for nesting of rodents, bugs or bird
  • Prevents 97% of radiant heat transfer
  • Vapor barrier
  • Prevents condensation
Prodex Total Insulation Solves Condensation, Heat and Cold Challenges

Any metal building or pole barn that uses fiberglass insulation rather than Prodex Total will have moisture issues (hidden behind facing), Loss of R-value (consequence of the moisture) and heat gain. Prodex Total is also a vital part of a complete house insulation system.

Learn more about reflective insulation

Prodex Total Eliminates Condensation 

Prodex eliminates the moisture and ice dams from forming on roof and walls. When the heat or cold from outside comes through the sheathing it hits the outside aluminum facing of Prodex and is reflected back upwards through the underside of the sheathing. This process keeps the sheathing temperature consistent on both sides. In addition, the inside layer of aluminum in Prodex reflects away the heat (heater) or cold (air-conditioning) from inside the building, from getting to the sheathing. This also helps in preventing condensation

Prodex Total Insulation (Vapor Barrier, Class 1. perm<0.1 ).

Prodex Total Prevents Radiant Heat Transfer 

Prodex Total reflects 97% of the radiant energy (primary source of heat flow) that strikes it. Prodex also reflects back the heat inside your building or home. Each unit of radiant heat energy that is reflected away from your building or home in the summer, and each unit that is reflected back during the winter, means less operation of your heating and air conditioning system - Less wear and tear on your equipment - Less money you pay in utility costs.

Prodex Total Keeps You Warm

The Prodex Total R-value is not affected by humidity. This feature cannot be over emphasized. There is humidity in every location. Your insulation must work in these conditions.

Prevents Rodents, Bugs and Birds from Nesting

Unlike fiberglass insulation, Prodex does not provide for the nesting of rodents, bugs and birds. Rodents, bugs and birds aren't able to digest the aluminum.

Deadens Sound of Rain and Hail

Metal skin on a building can exaggerate the sound of rain and hail. Prodex has an excellent 19db sound deadening.

Increased Lighting Efficiency

Prodex provides a bright, attractive finish to your building. It reflects the light, making it easier to light the building interior.

MORE Reasons To Select Prodex Total over Bubble
  1. Independent Reviews by Site Jabber. Site Jabber is the leading community of online business reviewers. The community helps consumers find great online business and avoid scams. The community has grown to over 850,000 members and has reviewed over 58,000 online businesses. Site Jabber was developed in part with a grant from the National Science Foundation.
  2. BBB report. For over 100 years, BBB has set the standard for ethical business behavior. We're proud to maintain an "A to A+" rating. This rating takes into account a company's size in its relation to complaints. We're proud to maintain an "A to A+" rating. Accredited since March 15, 2004
  3. ICC-ES Recognized - ICC-ES is an evaluation service that takes independent test data for a variety of products and analyses it against a uniform Acceptance Criteria that is recognized internationally.
  4. Over 5 billion square feet sold worldwide.

Beware - Companies are using Prodex Insulation images, descriptions and test results to sell their inferior products in the USA and Canada. If you see product descriptions that appear similar to Prodex Total, please let us know.


Bubble insulation lacks the quality core and reinforced surface of Prodex Total. It takes more than metalized film and air to make a quality insulation. If you only have metalized film and a mesh,  you don't have insulation. If your product is composed of air bubbles, it's subject to collapse in time or lose effectiveness when punctured. It requires a quality core of foam and reinforced foil to make a great insulation.

Beware of imitations.

Prodex Total is the standard bearer in the industry. Prodex Total = Insulation + Radiant barrier + Vapor barrier + Air barrier - All in One Product!

Need help choosing a product?