Insulation for the home can make a big difference. While it is essential to have as part of a home, different types make sense for different situations.
This guide is meant to help people understand the different types of insulation materials, as well as the value each provides. Other information such as handling different variables, and even the health impact of insulation, also makes sense.
No one wants to be in a tough situation later on after spending so much time and energy getting things set up. By the end of this guide, homeowners can have a better idea of the best insulation for them.
Different Insulation Materials
All in all, there are four general types of home insulation materials used at this time. There are different qualities to these materials, making sure that there is an option for just about every situation.
Fiberglass insulation is made from glass cullet, as well as other materials that are put into fibers that look much like wool. When a person purchases fiberglass insulation, it comes in a few different forms such as batts, rolls, or loose-fill.
Fiberglass is usually found in places such as attics and crawl spaces, as well as basements and even floors.
A lot of people believe that it takes a decent amount of time and attention to install fiberglass installation just right. It is important to follow guidelines so that there is very little chance of having to redo anything in particular.
When done the right way, fiberglass will last a long time, provide any additional benefits are detail below, and allow people to feel like they are getting excellent value for the price.
Mineral Wool Insulation
This insulation option, also known as rock wool insulation or slag wool insulation, comes from a combination of rock, blast furnace slag, and additional raw materials.
These materials are melted and spun into different fibers to look a lot like wool. Like fiberglass, it also comes in batts, rolls, or fairly loose-fill forms.
A lot of the locations this insulation is found in is where people others use fiberglass as well. The two options are pretty interchangeable in a lot of different attributes, which is why they have so much overlap.
There are two different types of mineral wool insulation that people tend to gravitate towards. Slag wool is a little bit different in they are only about 15% of the content is recycled.
When looking at mineral wool, as much as 90% of the content can be recycled. There are a few other differences, but people like it because it is pretty easy to install and get right the first time.
There might be some minor challenges if things are not done exactly as they should, but most people will figure it out if they have professionals who can take care of everything.
Spray Foam Insulation
This is a chemical base insulation that people create on-site to get ready for certain areas around the home. Most of the time, a sprayer is used to put this insulation in attics and other wall cavities.
With spray foam, there are two types of insulation, as people will go with open-cell foam or closed-cell foam.
The challenge of spray foam during the installation process is that it needs to be the right time and atmosphere to make it work properly. Things such as temperature, humidity, and the overall cleanliness of the area make a difference.
It is also challenging for the installers to see any particular gaps during the application process to get everything evenly applied. There are times when the first run might not work out exactly as planned, and more effort needs to be put into the situation.
Created by using cellulose fibers from paper or wood, this is a great installation option to resist fire. Creating this insulation means using binders in some situations, and avoiding them in others.
There is still a lot to learn about cellulose insulation, which is why it might not be quite as popular as more traditional methods. There is enough promise to leave people intrigued, but it might take a while for cellulose to take off.
Before You Begin Your Insulation Project
Still unsure on installation options available? There are a lot of questions people might have before making any investment. A look at some of these answers can make the decision slightly easier.
The insulation material is not going to make too much of a difference with energy savings. However, there are a few factors that do make a difference.
People need to make sure that they keep these factors in mind so that they are getting the most out of their insulation.
Do not cut corners and have subpar installation with insulation. It can be extremely frustrating for people who do not get the little things done correctly. It will need to be redone, and it can become pretty costly to handle all that.
Most of the time, the only way to get the correct insulation is to make sure that it is installed properly by professionals.
They will know exactly what is needed, they can usually get things done quickly, and it is not all that expensive compared to all of the hassle that it might take to make corrections. Even if that means starting a new project over from scratch, it might be worth it in the end.
The R-value of insulation material is going to explain how well it can resist heat flow. If it has a high R-value, it provides great insulating power.
This is a better way to measure everything instead of the material itself. All our values are created equally if everything is done correctly during the installation process.
This goes along with installation in general, but air-sealing is extremely important and making sure that everything works properly.
There are a lot of people who might get most of the installation process done correctly, but there is just a little bit of air seeping through. It might not seem like that big of a deal at first, but it becomes more and more of an issue as time goes on.
What Insulation Has the Best Quality Control?
From a quality perspective, fiberglass and mineral wool insulation is usually the way to go. They are both produced in manufacturing facilities with a lot of quality controls in place to ensure that it’s done properly.
These companies know exactly what is needed to provide proper installation, and they must live up to standards before ever shipping out.
Cellulose insulation is pretty high-quality as well, but the process to apply this insulation is not as standardized as fiberglass in the wall.
There is also the thought that the ability to be fire resistant wears off as time goes on. People need to stay on top of everything so that they are fully aware of what to expect in that regard.
Finally, spray foam insulation might be the most unpredictable as far as quality is concerned. That is because everything is manufactured on site, and a professional needs to know what they are doing to make it great.
If done incorrectly, spray foam insulation can fail to live up to expectations. This can be anything from mixing the chemicals at home incorrectly, using old chemicals, not storing chemicals properly, and even the air quality around not being the best. It is a very delicate procedure, so keep that in mind.
Can Insulation Help With Acoustic Performance?
There is a rating system for insulation materials when it comes to acoustic performance, noise reduction, and sound interference.
For those who really care about the type of sound that they hear around the home, it is important to pay attention to these numbers and take the right action.
The Noise Reduction Coefficient is on a scale going from 0 to 1, with a higher number being better. There is also the Sound Transmission Coefficient, which is based on how much noise transmission goes through a particular barrier. The higher the STC number, the better it performs.
Fiberglass and mineral wool insulation rate the highest, as they both have a 1.0 NRC, as well as around 43 STC. Spray foam and cellulose insulation are a little lower with an NRC a .75, and spray foam has an STC of around 37 to 39.
Does Insulation Have Safety and Health Concerns?
In the past, there have been a lot of concerns about health issues with fiberglass and mineral wool. In particular, there was formaldehyde in a lot of insulation in the past, and people complained about skin irritation as well as respiratory issues around it. Things have evolved where it is much safer these days, and a lot of people have no problems whatsoever.
The good news is that these installations are now assessed regularly so that if there are any health issues, there will be ways to sniff things out.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has officially labeled fiberglass insulation as having very little impact on formaldehyde levels in a home.
Spray foam, on the other hand, is still a bit of a concern just because it is being evaluated. The best thing to do is to investigate further and see if there is any type of chemical impact going on in the home.
There is one particularly worrisome ingredient, known as methylene diphenyl diisocyanate. There are a bunch of issues with this ingredient, as there have been studies that show that it can damage lungs, cause asthma problems, and more.
Not only have states declared it an issue, but the US EPA has concerns over spray foam safety as well.
Manufacturers are being a little vague on helping out people when it comes to staying safe while using this foam. It is something people need to consider if they are trying to stay as healthy as possible while still benefiting from the foam.
Installation Safety Regarding Fire, Moisture, and Mold?
There are a lot of concerns people have in regards to insulation each and every day. It is natural for people to be scared about what happens during a fire, but smaller issues like moisture buildup and mold can be frustrating as well.
There is nothing to worry about with fiberglass and mineral wall insulation. It is naturally non-combustible which is great news for people who are trying to stay safe.
Spray foam insulation can fight off fires up to 700°F. At that point, there is a chance of the insulation igniting. Cellulose insulation has some level of fire resistance, but it requires fire retardants to keep the majority of people safe.
As is the case with all fires, there are a lot of different factors that can lead to things getting out of control. Most insulation is not going to cause any true additional issues, but if it gets bad enough, it is not going to matter.
It is very difficult to keep moisture from causing harm with any type of insulation. In fact, no insulation is going to stay completely dry, so it is all about managing the issue as much as possible.
This is one of the many reasons why people will only use professionals to install insulation. It is worth asking them about what type of approach they will take to managing moisture overall. Most people know what areas are the most vulnerable, and it is important to consider those things.
If there are already a lot of moisture issues at the home, try to fix as much as possible before putting new insulation in. This is going to make life a little easier overall, and everyone wants to feel like they are starting in a pretty good place before something new goes in.
Mold and moisture go hand-in-hand, and that is just one of the ways that it can get pretty messy with insulation. If there is any food around or organic material in any way, spores can start to form, and it can get pretty serious.
The only insulation that is a possible food source is cellulose. It needs to be properly treated if there seems to be any chance of mold forming.
Spray foam, fiberglass, and mineral wool are not food sources, so they are a little less vulnerable. However, there is an opportunity for mold to grow on just about any surface with the right type of scenarios.
Be on the lookout for any insulation that promises that they are 100% resistant to mold. This is impossible, because mold can form in so many different ways.
The best way to cut down the opportunity of that happening is being proactive, but sometimes it just happens even if people are up on their cleaning and monitoring.
Why Insulation Matters For Soundproofing
Insulation makes a huge difference in so many different ways for any home. Some people think that all insulation options are the same, but there are definitely variables to keep in mind.
Anything from cost to effectiveness can play a role, and people should be capable of doing their own research before jumping into anything in particular.
Take a look around and consider the pros and cons before jumping in. There is no reason to hurry a decision only to regret it later. Most end up with mineral wool or fiberglass roll, but the other options have benefits as well.