Those involved in the construction of a house or building must communicate with one another right from the start. They can work together to establish the right design criteria and decide on the appropriate insulation materials.
Insulation materials present benefits and limitations, which will depend on the service, location, and the expected longevity of the application. All of these are taken into consideration in the design and planning stages of a building.
Thermal resistance is the measurement of the temperature difference by which the insulation resists the heat flow. The resistance associated with insulation material is specified as its R-value, or the capacity to resist heat flow. An insulation material with a high R-value has greater insulating power.
The following insulation materials are widely used in the home:
- Batts and rolls – These insulation materials are made from fiberglass, mineral wool, plastic and natural fibers. They are recommended for unfinished walls, floors, and ceilings. The material is fitted between studs, beams, and joists. It can be installed as a DIY project without the need for special tools and machines.
- Concrete block insulation – These are foam boards that are placed outside of the walls in new construction or inside the walls in existing homes. They are recommended for use with foundation walls. This type of insulation requires special skill to install. It is very efficient at moderating indoor temperatures.
- Foam board – Made of polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, or polyurethane, this insulation material is good for floors and ceilings, as well as unvented low-slope roofs. When used in an interior application, it must be topped with a 1/2-inch fire resistant material such as gypsum board. It provides high insulating value, especially in light of how thin it is.
- Insulating concrete forms – These forms are made of foam boards or foam blocks and are ideal for unfinished walls and foundation walls. The boards or blocks are installed as part of the building structure to create high resistance against heat.
- Loose-fill or blown-in – This insulation is made of cellulose, mineral wool, or fiberglass. It is typically used in enclosed walls or wall cavities, on unfinished attic floors, and in hard-to-reach areas. It is installed using insulation equipment such as a blowing machine and other insulation accessories.
Homeowners and designers should agree in advance on the best insulation material to suit the prospective home.