How To Know Materials used in Insulation Systems

Insulation systems are used in interiors and exteriors of buildings, homes and other structures for energy efficiency (by reducing heat transfer and optimizing temperature control), as well as for protection from fire and impact, and reduction of noise. There are many types of insulation systems, as well as materials and installation methods used.

If you are interested in knowing more about insulation systems, you could probably start with knowing the materials as well as the common installation methods used.

General categories of insulation systems include:

  1. Cellular Insulation. Cellular insulation materials are made up of small individual cells that form a strong cellular structure. Plastics, glass and rubber may be base material for these kinds of insulation.
  2. Fibrous Insulation. These are insulation made up of fibers with small diameters; these fibers are either organic or inorganic. They are usually held together by binder material. Materials used for fibrous insulation include wool (such as slag wool and rock wool),  glass fiber, and mineral wool.
  3. Flake Insulation. These insulations are made up of small particles, or flakes.
  4. Granular Insulation. This type of insulation has small nodules with voids where gas can pass through. They are considered open cell materials. Some examples include calcium silicate, molded perlite and expanded polystyrene.           
  5. Reflective Insulation. This type of insulation consists of treatments added to surfaces, such as for ceiling insulation, to lower heat transfer to and from that surface. These treatments are thermal insulating coatings that provide a workable radiant barrier.

Insulation materials can be installed in structural or non-structural form. Here are some examples of non-structural forms for installing insulation:

  1. Blanket insulation. This is made of fibrous insulation that is formed into rolls or blankets.  These rolls are built to fit into standard walls, but they can be cut or trimmed for more exact measurements.
  2. Loose-Fill Insulation. Loose-fill insulation is usually made of fiberglass, cellulose and rock wool material (types of fibrous insulation) that are used for irregularly-shaped exteriors and spaces. A great advantage is that they can be installed without causing great disturbance to existing designs and finishes.
  3. Spray Foam Insulation. Polyurethane foam is pumped into a building or home for insulation purposes. This is greatly convenient as insulation will be effectively applied to all corners, including nooks and crevices in problematic areas such as a home basement. However, a professional should be the one to do this since applying exactly the right amount is essential.

Examples of structural insulation include the following:

  1. Rigid Panels. These are designed to fit a standard-size wall structure and a flat exterior.
  2. Structured Panels.  These are pre-cut panels that could be installed as floor, roof or wall components; these panels are composed of molded polystyrene insulation laminated to the top and bottom.
  3. Straw Bale. This is a very basic and simple insulation method making use of straw bales. This form of insulation is commonly used in natural building settings and design.

There you have it! Those are just the different materials and installation types used for insulation. Hopefully this information would help you choose the best insulation material for your home. Good luck!


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