Kinds of Insulation for Homes
Thermal insulation is one of the solutions to insulate your home and improve energy consumption and comfort. It is not always easy to distinguish some insulating materials from others. Each one has its specific properties and its features. Because there are several kinds of insulation for homes, we have picked out the ones that are mostly used by homeowners.
Different Types of Insulation
We will try to give some guidance on the main thermal insulating material, which include:
• Mineral wool
• Rock wool
• Glass wool
• Radiant Barriers
• Polyurethane foams
• Radiant Barriers
• Concrete Block
• Blanket Insulation (Batt and Roll)
This is one of the most popular kinds of insulation for homes and it is widely available for use. It is used by any roofing company in your local area. Blanket insulation comes in two forms, namely rolls and batts. The fibers are quite flexible and made of fiberglass and sometimes mineral in the form of slag and rock. You can also find blanket insulation made from plastic fibers, wool, and cotton. Both rolls and batts can be found in various widths, but more suited to traditional spacing of attic truss, wooden truss, wall studs, floor joist, or rafter. If you are using continuous rolls, it can be trimmed and hand-cut so it can fit. These are available without facings and with facings. Many manufacturers will usually attach a facing like vinyl or kraft paper. Roofers, electricians, and plumbers use this type of insulation because it helps to form a vapor or air barrier. Batts is known to be flame resistant in it is facing and comes in a variety of widths, if you are using it on basement walls. The facing helps to fasten it during installation.
Concrete block insulation is another popular one used in the construction of the walls and foundations of many homes. Several methods of insulation are used to do the installation. For example, construction companies often use this type of insulation, if, for structural reasons, the cores are not filled with concrete and steel. Filling them with insulation helps to raise the R-value of the wall. When doing the installation, it is more effective to do so over the surface of the concrete blocks. This can be done either on the interior or exterior of the foundation walls. It is advantageous to place the insulation on the exterior because of the moderate indoor temperatures that it provides. Some manufacturers even go as far as incorporating polystyrene beads into the concrete blocks. There are other manufacturers that create concrete blocks that accommodate firm foam inserts.
This is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that have attics. The primary reason is for the reduction of the summer heat, which eventually helps lower the energy and cooling costs. Radiant barriers incorporate the reflective insulation method, which includes materials such as plastic film, cardboard, draft paper, and polyethylene bubbles. The radiant barrier lowers the radiant heat that is transferred from under the roof to other surfaces in the attic. Therefore, to be effective, the insulation must be installed facing an air space. A roofing company will use this type of insulation for homeowners who live in hot climates. This is especially so when the home’s cooling air ducts are found in the attic. It makes it easier for duct cleaning to be done more effectively.
Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) is a durable, water-resistant insulator with high mechanical performance and does not rot over time. It can be used on terraces or roofs, placed on the waterproofing (inverted roof) in addition to thermally insulating it. This protects the waterproof sheet and improves its durability. It is used by any local shower remodeling company.
This material has a typical thermal conductivity and also low water absorption. It is not very porous, but has very high mechanical performance. These features allow you to place weight on this type of thermal insulation without it deforming. The use of this thermal insulation on flat roofs leads to the reduction of fatigue to which the materials are subjected due to expansion and contraction. This is especially true for waterproofing. In addition, as it is placed without any type of adhesive, it can be easily replaced. This improves maintenance and roof repairs. As you can see, the use of extruded polystyrene on flat roofs will allow you to build all kinds of roofs including passable, non-passable, and landscaped ones.
This is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that can be used in:
Inverted flat roofs: tongue-and-groove plates of 1.25 meters long by 0.60 m wide and in thicknesses of 30 to 100 mm are usually used.
Passable flat roofs: roofing experts use these kinds of roofs because they are usually made by first performing the base support followed by the formation of slopes, mortar base support, primer layer (at singular points and perimeter), a separating layer (glass veil), one or more sheets waterproofing, separating layer, and extruded polystyrene thermal insulation, as well as an anti-puncture layer and final finish based on ceramic pavement, natural stone, and concrete.
Inclined roofs: tongue-and-groove plates of similar thickness to the other roofs are usually used. It is ideal for insulation on sloping roofs under tiles. One of the advantages of this system is that, by putting thermal insulation on the sloping roofs, you can create lofts and living spaces with good thermal and comfort conditions. The low water absorption of XPS and its resistance to freeze-thaw allow this thermal insulation not to lose its mechanical capacity and are ideal in those roofs where the insulation is immediately below the tile.
Expanded polystyrene (EPS): it is a foamed plastic material, derived from polystyrene. Due to its versatility and ease of forming, in addition to its excellent qualities and properties, expanded polystyrene has a wide range of applications.
In the construction sector, it is known as white cork and is used as a lightening and thermal insulation material. This is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that can have a wide variety of thicknesses with densities ranging from 10 to 25 kg/m, which make it an extremely light material. Its thermal conductivity is between 0.06 and 0.03 W/mºC. Expanded polystyrene shares many characteristics with extruded polystyrene, since its chemical composition is identical: approximately 95% polystyrene and 5% gas. The difference lies solely in the shaping process. However, it has a crucial difference since the extruded produces a closed bubble structure, which makes the extruded polystyrene the only thermal insulator capable of getting wet without losing its properties.
The differences between extruded and expanded include:
• Less dense expanded
• Expanded does not go tongue and groove
• Expanded by having the pore open absorbs moisture
• Expanded lower mechanical resistance
Therefore, the extruded one is mostly used in insulation of roofs and floors while the expanded one is used for partitions.
Mineral wool is a flexible material made of inorganic fibers. The fibers are made up of an interlacing of filaments of stone materials that form a felt. The felt contains and maintains the air in an immobile state. This structure provides a high level of protection and thermal, acoustic, and fire insulation. It is a natural product basically composed of siliceous sand for glass wool, and with basalt rock for rock wool.
Mineral wool is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that has a wide use and is a product recognized as a good acoustic and thermal insulator. It provides an important gain in acoustic insulation of the construction elements to which it is incorporated, obtaining a notable noise reduction. The properties of acoustic insulators are better than in the case of the polystyrenes that we have seen above. Mineral wool can be found in roofs, slabs, facades, floors, false ceilings, dividing partitions, air conditioning ducts, and protection of structures, doors, partitions, and exterior enclosures. Depending on the composition, you can differentiate between rock wool and glass wool.
The rock wool panels are composed of 98% volcanic rock (basalt) and 2% organic binder. It is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that is obtained by melting the rock at high temperatures, subjecting it to movement, and applying binders and waterproof oils that are compressed and dimensioned, transforming them into panels, felts, blankets, etc. Rock wool products do not retain water. They have a non-capillary structure. In addition, they offer a strong permeability to water vapor. Thanks to their multidirectional arrangement, they provide construction elements with a remarkable ability to increase the level of insulation acoustic.
Among the main advantages of rock wool, you will find:
• It is fire retardant so it behaves well against fire
• Ease of handling and speed of installation
• Chemically inert
• Not hydrophilic or hygroscopic (it does not absorb water or moisture)
• It is respectful with the environment
• Rock wool can be found in the form of blankets or in the form of mortars to project
Projected rock wool
The projected rock wool is a mortar composed of rock wool and white cement, conceived as projected thermal insulation, without thermal bridges, non-combustible, and with a great speed of application. Conceived with high mechanical resistance, in addition to its qualities as fire protection, it provides excellent acoustic absorption. This product is not toxic and does not contain gypsum or plaster. It does not contain lime or emit toxic gases. It has a rot-resistant material. It is applied by projection with the use of a pneumatic machine directly on the surface.
Glass wool is a product of natural, mineral, inorganic origin, composed of an interlacing of glass filaments bonded by a fire-retardant resin. Glass wool panels are mainly composed of silica sand and calcium and magnesium carbonate, which give it resistance to humidity. As you can see, the main difference with rock wool is that it is made up of volcanic rock while glass wool is mainly made up of silica or carbonate sands. It is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that is obtained by a process similar to rock wool, at high temperatures and using resins and oils.
Glass wool products do not retain water. They have a disorderly cross-fiber structure and thanks to its open porosity, mineral glass wool allows air to be trapped inside its pores, offering low conductivity, with the consequent capacity as thermal and acoustic insulation. It also provides a total guarantee of safety against fire. It is supplied in the form of blankets and panels, with or without different coatings, which allows all kinds of specific uses in residential and industrial buildings. Mineral wool is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that is often used in roofs and partitions as intermediate insulation, usually when we use plasterboard (plasterboard).
It is used in new constructions for any type of weather. It is made up of double-sheet factory facades with the exterior bearing and the interior cladding, including insulation between them. Its placement on facades, as intermediate insulation, reduces the energy demand of the building.
Polyurethane is a product whose basic composition is oil and sugar. It is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that allows the formation of lightly rigid foam with more than 90% of the cells closed and with a good coefficient of thermal conductivity (very insulating).
Polyurethane foam panel
The characteristics of this product include structural rigidity, great adhesion on any surface, dampens vibrations, does not absorb ambient humidity and the price ratio for insulating capacity is very good. Polyurethane foam can also be found as projected foam, which allows it to reach all the gaps avoiding thermal bridges.
Sprayed polyurethane foam
This is one of the kinds of insulation for homes that have been the most used product in recent years, although it is suffering a decrease in its use. This is mainly due to its high degree of combustion. This means that it is being replaced by other products such as mineral wool that, having a capacity of similar insulation, they are flame retardant.
It is important to know which type of insulation you have in your home. For example, if you have to hire one of the local pest control companies to have work done in your home, you might be asked about the type of insulation you have in your home. This is especially true if the company has to go inside the insulation to discover whether it is being invaded by pests. You can choose the type of insulation you desire, but sometimes, it will depend on your preference. At other times, it may depend on what has been recommended by a professional.