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Types of Insulation: A Detailed List of Features for Both Residential and Commercial Buildings

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Insulation is an important part of any building process. The different insulation materials you choose will determine how efficient your home or office is and can significantly impact energy costs. There are a variety of types of insulation for both residential homes and commercial buildings. Let’s take some time to go over them.

From spray foam insulation, rigid board foam insulation, fiberglass insulations, batt and blown as well as mineral fibers such as mineral wool, cellulose, and cotton wool, we will cover them all. Finally, we’ll cover urethane foam types of insulation which work great for sealing against air leaks that could be coming from windows or doors.

Once you have a knowledge base of the common types of insulation available, you can make an informed decision. From there you can insulate your home or commercial building. Whether you’re still in the building process and have unfinished walls that need insulation or are planning a remodel to improve your home insulation, choosing the right type of materials can increase the R-values of your building. Correct insulation materials allows for proper heat transfer which will increase the energy efficiency of your structure.

Spray Foam Insulation

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Spray foam is one of the most popular insulation types. This form of material will coat any spatial cavities in your building’s structure, including wall cavities (even basement walls), floors, and ceilings. One benefit of this form of insulation is that it acts as an insulator and doubles as an air sealant by filling the gaps between structural components. It is made with a spongy coating from polyurethane or other chemical agents. Then it is combined with foaming gas propellants, such as nitrogen chloride and carbon dioxide.

The first thing to know about this type of insulation is there are two different types: open-cell foam and closed-cell foam. What’s the difference? First, let’s talk about what R-values are. R-Value is the measurement of how well heat transfers in your home. So, the highest R-Value means your home is optimally insulated.

Open Cell Foam

Open-cell foam has a lower R-value, which means it insulates less than closed-cell spray foam. It isn’t waterproof or effective as an air barrier, so it is mainly for basements but not on exterior walls where water might get in.

Closed Cell Foam

Closed-cell foam can be used on all surfaces without worry about water damage because it’s sealed well enough to protect against the moisture inside or outside your home. It has a higher R-Value and provides for better energy efficiency.

Foam insulation is a safe and effective method of insulating your home. It’s also good for the environment because it emits low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). However, improper installation can lead to poor results or even injury, so you should ensure that an experienced installer does this to avoid any potential problems down the line. They will wear special personal protective equipment like respirators while installing spray foam insulation. Most installers require 24 hours before people can return to their homes because of chemicals used when applying spray foam.

Rigid Foam Board Insulation

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Rigid foam board insulation is for anyone looking to install a sturdy, long-lasting barrier in their home. Unlike other materials that may shift around after installation and provide little benefit when it comes to water or pest control, this type of insulation holds its place, providing a valuable defense against these threats. You may use this option to insulate your attic, crawlspace, or basement because this material won’t budge once installed.

Rigid board insulation is a lightweight, easy to install insulation that can eliminate thermal bridging. It comes in three types: extruded polystyrene, expanded polystyrene, or polyisocyanurate, typically used for roofing walls and floors. They’re budget-friendly options for below or above-grade applications no matter the climate type. The rigid board insulation typically has lower R-values.

Thermax insulation is a type of rigid board insulation and is a high-performing product due to its glass-fiber-infused core. The rigid board’s ability to reduce condensation and Class A fire rating makes it popular among homeowners, builders, contractors, and designers.

Fiberglass Insulation

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Fiberglass insulation is an extremely popular choice for general insulation purposes (mainly used in stud and joist cavities, attics, crawl spaces, and unfinished walls). It provides an inexpensive solution to reduce heat transfer and insulate your home. It’s made up of fine glass fibers, which are incredibly sound-absorbent. Fiberglass is easy to access and install, which is one reason it’s so popular.

Types of Fiberglass Insulation

There are two different types, fiberglass batt insulation, and loose-fill insulation. Fiberglass batts and rolls are typically stapled into place. Most manufacturers include a paper or foil backing that faces the direction of heat, which keeps fibers from entering homes and causing potential property damage. Loose-fill insulation can be blown in attics, walls, and floor cavities.

When installed correctly by professionals certified with installation standards (ISO), this material can create an effective moisture barrier so particles cannot enter your home. This type of insulation is popular and effective. However, it isn’t the best option for homeowners who care about environmental impact.

Mineral Wool Insulations (Loose Fill Insulation)

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Mineral wool insulation has a high concentration of recycled paper (about 85% is made from recycled newspaper) and various mineral properties. The paper is treated with non-hazardous chemicals such as flame retardants and pest-resistant properties that keep pests and mold away.  This makes it the best bet for those fighting fires and keeping pests away. Recommended by many experts as an effective form of insulating material, this product has a lot to offer any homeowner.

Types of Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation comes in two types. Loose-fill insulation is used for attics, while densely packed cellulose is best suited to walls and ceilings. The loose-fill type is inserted through blown-in insulation. As the name suggests, it gets blown around your home space. On the contrary, dense pack requires being cut into sections before installing by hand or using tools like saws and drills. Finally, there’s also a rolled-out form of this material available.

Cellulose insulation is made from tiny pieces of paper to fit around obstacles. It’s like framing joists or recessed light fixtures. Having insulation that fits well means better heat flow performance per square foot, keeping heat inside during winters and outside in summers. It’s an excellent investment to keep heating and cooling costs down and make your home eco-friendly.

Polyurethane Foams

Polyurethane foam can be an excellent investment for homes and businesses. Compared to traditional batt insulation, a house with sprayed-in urethane is about twice as energy efficient in heating and cooling.

Compared to the labor costs and materials needed for bat insulation, polyurethane spray foam is more expensive. However, it costs less in construction as it eliminates the need for other sealants such as radiant barrier wraps or joint tape. And most importantly, you’ll save money on energy over time.

Making a Decision On What to Use

So, which insulation type is best for you? It all depends on your budget, the climate your building is located in, and the amount of installation time required. There are many types of insulation to choose from, so speak with a professional who can recommend what is suitable for your project.

Energy Monster’s team of experts is ready to get your home correctly insulated. Visit Energy Monster’s Massachusetts website or call (855) 627-7674 today! Energy Monster also offers no-cost home energy audits!

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