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Top 7 Commonly Used Thermal Insulation Materials

06 September, 2018

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Presently, if you want thermal insulation for your home or office building walls, then there are many cheap and common options available in the market. Many of them have been used by people for quite a long time. Every different insulation material has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the purpose of use. For this reason, it is important that you make sure that the material you are going to use for insulation in your situation best suitable for that purpose.

While finalizing the thermal insulation material type, one must evaluate the price per square foot of insulation, R-value per inch, flammability, environmental impact and sound insulation of the material. In this article, we are going to share with you the top seven insulation materials that are highly recommended by experts.

1.    Fiberglass
Fiberglass is the most commonly used thermal insulation used for homes and commercial buildings. The main reason for their popularity is the way in which they are made. The fiberglass material is made with multiple strands of glass that are weaved in a way that the complete fiberglass insulate that building against heat, thus minimize the transfer of heat across it.

As fiberglass is made of silicon and glass powder, therefore, their handling is the most dangerous thing. While installing them, it is very important to take safety measures because they can prove to be extremely damaging to lungs, skin, and eyes. For safety measures, safety equipment is available that must be worn while working on them. In this way, accidents can be avoided, and installation can be done safely.

It is basically nonflammable thermal insulation. Its R-value is between 2.9 and 3.8 per inch of insulation. It is, therefore, a very inexpensive and good option if you have a low budget. Again, the main thing to take care of this insulation is the precautionary measures. Make sure you wear a mask for your skin and wyes protection and also to prevent the inhalation of its particles.

2.    Mineral Wool
Mineral wool is not just one single insulation; rather it is a combination of many insulation materials. Firstly, we can refer to it as glass wool which in reality is the fiberglass produced through the recycled glass material. Secondly, mineral wool is also rock wool that is manufactured from the rock basalt. Lastly, the mineral wool is also slag wool which is due to the use of slag in manufacturing it that comes directly from the steel mills.

Right now, majorly the mineral wool used in the United States of America is the slag wool, such as by Los Angeles Insulation contractors. The use of mineral slag wool is most common in regions where there is moderately warm weather as in very hot weather they cannot be used due to their ability of combustion. However, when used with another type of materials, their flammability reduces and can be effectively used to cover large buildings. Its R-value range is also similar to that of fiberglass, which is around 2.8-3.6.

3.    Cellulose
When it comes to the environmental safety and preservation, the use of cellulose-based thermal insulations is the best option. This is the eco-friendliest option for thermal insulations at homes and in commercial buildings. It is mainly made with losing material that most of the times originate from cardboard, paper, and similar other materials. It has a higher value of R, that is 3.1 to almost around 37. Due to these characteristics, it is believed that it is a great option to minimize the chances of fire. This is because the cellulose material is very compact and has no pores in it. Due to the lack of pores, there is no oxygen in the material. As for fire, oxygen is very important which is absent in this case. Therefore, the chances of combustion are zero.

For all these reasons, the use of cellulose as thermal insulation is considered as the most promising option that is both eco-friendly as well as resistant to fire. Also, it is a relatively cheap and effective way of insulation. Other than all the benefits that cellulose insulation offers, there are also some disadvantages of using this material for thermal insulation. These included allergies that someone might get as a result of dust produced by the newspaper used to make the cellulose insulation. Moreover, there are very few skilled people who know the right way of using cellulose as thermal insulation material as compared to those who know about fiberglass and mineral wool.

4.    Polyurethane Foam
Polyurethane, although not very commonly used thermal insulation, but according to experts, it is also a very effective option if any other material is not available. It uses bowling agent, which is chlorofluorocarbon gas. By doing this, polyurethane is capable of reducing the damage to the ozone layer. Moreover, their weight is very less, only about 2 pounds per 3 inches of polyurethane insulation sheet on a building. Also, it has a very high value of R, that is, up to 6.3 per inch of insulation thickness.

As the weight of polyurethane foam is very light, so their density is also very low.  Due to this feature, they can be sprayed on areas where there is no insulation. Along with this advantage, another benefit of using polyurethane as thermal insulation is that they are also fire resistant just like cellulose thermal insulation materials.

5.    Polystyrene
Polystyrene, although made for the insulation of heat, but is also capable of resisting sound. It provides a very smooth thermal insulation which is not possible in case of any other type of thermal insulation material. They are basically made with thermoplastic material which is also waterproof. This thermal insulation material is basically of two main types, which are, EPS and XEPS. Both of these stand for expanded and extruded polystyrene thermal insulations, respectively. The extruded form of polystyrene is also known as Styrofoam. The difference between them is their cost and performance. The expanded form has an R-value of 4, and the extruded form of polystyrene thermal insulation is 5.5.

Normally when installing as insulation, the polystyrene material is cut and made into blocks that are ideal for use as wall insulation. As the polystyrene material is extremely combustible, therefore to develop fire-resistant in it a coating of a chemical called Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is used. But recent researches have shown that the coating of HBCD is harmful to health and pose great environmental risks.

6.    Aerogel
The thermal insulation materials mentioned in the above section of the article are the most commonly sued thermal insulations for homes and commercial buildings. They are also the conventional options that people have been using for decades. But quite recently, there are many new thermal insulation materials are introduced in the market.

Recently, aerogel is a very innovative invention when we talk about thermal insulations. It is said that this material is used to make thermal insulation tiles. The capability of these tiles is to resist the temperature range of up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. With such amazing heat insulation capabilities, they are very affordable and easily available in the market right now.

7.    Pyrogel XT
Pyrogel is another innovation of the present age. It is now considered as the most effective thermal insulation material for industries. According to experts, Pyrogel XT requires 50% to 80% less thickness as insulation material on a building as compared to another type of thermal insulation materials. Due to its amazing characteristics of resisting heat with such a small thick insulation layer, they are a little bit more expensive than other insulation materials. Moreover, their use is very specific, which means that they cannot be used for all type of building insulations.

Guide for Selection of Right Thermal Insulation Material
Right now, in the market, you will find multiple options when you start searching for thermal insulation material. It is not easy to just go and select the right material for your situation. Rather you have to do a thorough search of every thermal insulation materials, and then you will be eligible to select the one that you feel is best suitable for your purpose.

Given below is a quick guideline point for you to keep in mind which you are looking for each type of thermal insulation material. As a quick overview:

•    Even though aerogel is expensive, but it must be first searched for because this is the best thermal insulation material.
•    Fiberglass is a good option but keeps in mind its handling is crucial to make sure that if you have good skilled people for its installation then chose to evaluate it further.
•    Mineral wool is a great option but if you live in a very hot place, then keep in mind that it is not fire resistant.
•    Cellulose is resistant to fire and inexpensive, but its installation is hard. So, arrange the team for installation before final selection.
•    Polystyrene and Polyurethane are amazing thermal insulation materials but remember they compromise environmental safety.
After reading this article, you are now completely aware of the types of thermal insulation materials, their composition, uses, and hazards. So, if you are looking for the best option for your building then read this article thoroughly and find out your best suitable option.

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