Insulation Materials

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One of the major decision you would have to make when you think about insulating your home is the type of insulation material to use. Choosing from the long list of insulation materials is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, with the right information regarding each material, this undertaking can be smoother than you imagined.

You can opt for either bulk materials, highly reflective materials or rigid insulation boards based on what you intend to achieve. There are also some popular insulations like vermiculite and phenolic foams that you may choose. Let’s dive in and discover more about these varying insulation materials:

Fiberglass

As the name suggests, the anatomy of this material are fine glass fibers. It is the main element in loose-fill and blanket insulation. It is also found in duct and insulation boards. For many years, manufacturers have been making standard fiberglass batts but now they have shifted to mid-high-density fiberglass rolls that provide relatively higher R-values. Thanks to its density, fiberglass rolls are mostly preferred for use in platforms where space is limited.

Mineral Wool

A quite diverse material. The term refers to slag and rock wool. All these are synthetic materials only differentiated by their constituents. Rockwool contains basalt minerals while slag wool is obtained from blast furnace waste. Both loose-fill and blanket insulation are composed of mineral wool.

Cellulose Material

Cellulose material contains 82%-87% recycled paper. The paper, usually newsprint is chopped into pieces before being fiberized. Sometimes these papers are blended with ammonium sulfate to make them resistant to insects and fire. This material is utilized in almost all structures; both newly built and renovated ones.

Natural Fiber Insulation Materials

If you don’t want to use manmade insulation materials, you can opt for the following three natural fibers:

Cotton

This is composed of more than 85% recycled cotton with plastic fibers making only 15% of its composition. The material is borate-treated to make it resistant to fire and insects. The insulation is made in batts and it is more expensive compared to its counterpart fiberglass batts.

Sheep’s Wool

Just like cotton insulation, sheep’s wool is also borate-treated to make it resistant to mold, insects and fire. Because of its density, it has high water retention capacity, which could benefit some walls. However, prolonged wetting could compromise the effectiveness of the borate.

Hemp

This is not popular among builders in the UK. However, it provides the same R-value as other natural fibers.

Polystyrene Material

It is a transparent and colorless material used to make foam insulation boards. The boards made from this material are light and have various uses apart from insulation. For instance, they are used for pouring insulation in hollow cavities.

Polyisocyanurate Material

Also called polyiso, this is a closed-cell thermosetting plastic with low-conductivity. The material exists as rigid panels, liquid or sprayed foam. It can also be faced to create laminated panels that are a great alternative to foam boards because they are cheaper.

Bottom Line

You can decide to utilize one or a variety of these insulation materials to achieve ultimate insulation results. However, your choice will likely be informed by your budget as well as your home needs.