Insulation materials are installed in buildings and homes to resist conductive and convective heat flow in a building cavity. Simply put, this makes the building warm during the winter months and cool during the summer months. Fiberglass is the ubiquitous insulation material used by the construction industry today. There are, however, other types of insulation materials that may also be used.
Mineral Wool Insulation Materials
Mineral wool refers to two insulation materials: rock wool, which is man-made and consists of natural minerals such as diabase and basalt, and slag wool from molten blast-furnace waste deposits.
Mineral wool has 75 percent content from post-industrial recycled materials. It does not need any additional chemicals to make it fire resistant. Mineral wool is available in either blanket or loose-fill insulation.
Cellulose Insulation Material
Cellulose insulation is fabricated from recycled paper products, mainly newsprint. It has about 82 to 85 percent recycled material content. Recycled paper is reduced into small pieces before being fiberized, resulting in an insulation material that packs tightly into the cavities of buildings to inhibit air flow and provide 3.6 to 3.8 per inch R-value. (The R-value of insulation material is the thermal resistance.)
Cellulose insulation can be made fire and insect-resistant with the addition of borate minerals and ammonium sulfate. Cellulose insulation does not need a moisture barrier.
Aerogel insulation was developed to answer the demand for more efficient, eco-friendly buildings. Aerogel is one of the lightest materials available for insulation purposes. It is considered one of the highest-efficiency insulators available today. It was originally developed by NASA, but it now has a spinoff that is designed for commercial and residential applications.
Aerogel insulation is a highly efficient material for building insulation. It breaks conductive thermal bridging to increase a wall’s R-value by up to 35 percent. Aerogel is very fragile, hence its nickname of “frozen smoke.” This can be overcome by incorporating fibers that allow aerogel to be bent or compressed but still retain its insulation properties.
Aerogel has hydrophobic properties that makes it resistant to mold, mildew, and aging. It uses amorphous silica that is environmentally friendly and recyclable.
The current trend in insulation materials is geared toward environmental preservation. Many contractors and building owners are united in using insulation materials that do not harm the environment and achieve the highest level of efficiency.