When most people picture insulation, they think of the pink, fuzzy stuff that lined their attic as a kid. That’s just one of today’s options. Insulation contractors typically use several types of materials for their insulation projects, depending on the preferences of the customer. Many people now consider the environmental-friendliness of materials before settling on one. Indeed, some are more “green” than others.
Here’s a closer look at some of the pros and cons of popular insulation materials:
- Foam insulation – This material is the favorite of many insulation contractors because of its desirable R-values. R-values define the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. Foam insulation, however, can have a negative effect on the environment. The raw materials of foam insulation have to be extracted, refined, and transported during the manufacturing process, which contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.
- Polyisocyanurate –This mouthful of a word is also referred to as PIR or polyiso. It is the most environmentally friendly of the foam insulations in use today. It is a rigid foam board, normally backed with foil, that serves as a vapor or radiant barrier. Polyisocyanurate can be installed in any part of the home. It is manufactured from nine percent or more of recycled content, which includes mixed color polyethylene terephthalate plastic bottles. It contains less-toxic flame retardant, making it a preferred material, but it is not recommended for use in damp areas.
- Polystyrene – This is a synthetic aromatic polymer manufactured from the monomer styrene. There are two types of polystyrene: EPS (expanded) and XPS (extruded). Polystyrene is also called blueboard or beadboard. It may contain some amount of recycled materials in its manufacture. The chemical compounds in polystyrene pose health and environmental concerns.
- Polyurethane – This material is an expanding foam that is manufactured from polyol and polyiso resin. It is partially soy-based material that requires a minimum of five percent recycled content. This insulation material is used as filler for wall cavities.
- Mineral wool – Mineral wool is manufactured from recycled slag, iron ore, and abundant rock. It requires a minimum of 70 percent recycled material content, and sometimes contains as much as 90 percent.
The Internet is an amazing tool. Start by doing some online research on insulation options. Once you know the basics, you can talk to an installation contractor to walk you through your options and answer specific questions.