Types of Insulation

Insulation has been used since the beginning of 20th century to keep temperatures in houses stable and comfortable. Over time, technological advances have led to the rise of different ways of doing insulation and insulation materials. The insulation types and materials used largely depend on the climate where a building is located. Insulation materials are rated using insulation R-value where higher R values translate into higher thermal resistance.

Insulation Methods

Structured insulated panels (SIPs)

This type of insulation is done on floors, walls, and roofs because it is an energy efficient and high-performance type of insulation. The panels have a foam core that is positioned between a strand board and facing. This type of insulation is easy to work with and affordable.


Spray-in Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is an in material that is mixed the sprayed onto the surface where it dries and expands fitting in narrow spaces and cavities. This type of insulation is preferred where space is confined.


Insulated Concrete

Concrete insulation is becoming more popular as concrete mixing technology gives rise to thinner concrete panels. This type of insulation is done on new walls and remodeling projects.


Insulated Vinyl Siding

While this type of insulation is relative more expensive than other materials, it is preferred for its aesthetics. Vinyl siding comes in more colors and gives a more even finished look to the wall.


What are different insulation materials commonly used?

Fiberglass Insulation

This is the most commonly used insulation material. It is made from very fine woven glass strands. This material is also affordable, not flammable, and offers R values of 2.8-3.9 per inch. Fiberglass requires special handling.


Cellulose Insulation

This insulation material is increasingly preferred for its environmental friendliness. It is made from recycled newspapers, books and cardboard. The R-values for cellulose are 3.1-3.7 per inch. Cellulose is also fire resistant because of its compactness which eliminates air pockets. It is affordable but finding skilled installers is a bit difficult.


Mineral Wool Insulation

There are different forms of this insulation material. The most common is slag wool which is made from steel slag in steel mills. There is also rock slag which is made of basalt rock. The third form is glass wool made from recycled glass. Its R-value ranges from 2.8-3.5. Mineral wool has no additives making it ideal for people with respiratory issues.


Polyurethane Foam Insulation

This is a lightweight insulation material that gives excellent thermal insulation with R-values of 6.3 per inch. Modern polyurethane contains no CFC which was a problem with this material in the past.

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