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Buying Guide: Home Insulation Types to Consider

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Building insulation refers to materials used to improve the thermal abilities of a structure. The materials are meant to reduce unwanted heat loss or gain. Insulation also boosts a structure’s energy efficiency. The right kind of insulation material makes a world of difference to a specific home that is why you need to learn what kinds of insulation materials are available in the market right now. To help you make an informed decision, we are listing down all the different types of thermal insulation materials to consider:

Fiber Glass Insulation

This is the most common of all insulation materials. As the name suggest, fiberglass insulation is a building material made from glass fibers. The glass fibers are extremely thin and are bound together to create a layer of building material. The material is used for thermal purposes, but it can also be used for soundproofing. Although fiberglass insulation is great as thermal insulation, the glass fibers could break off into very fine grains and inhaled. This material also contains traces of phenol-formaldehyde, which is a carcinogenic compound.

Foam Insulation

Foam insulation is a building material that comes in liquid or spray form. The foam starts out as a viscous liquid that turns solid. The foam is typically poured into a wall cavity to seal every microscopic hole for better insulation. Foam insulation can be blown into new walls for retrofitting too. It can stop leaks and unwanted heat loss. Foam insulation can also reinforce the foundation of a structure. However, this material contains traces of polyurethane and chlorofluorocarbons or CFC. Newer versions of foam insulation are made from plant-based ingredients so they are safer to humans and the environment.

Cotton Insulation

Cotton insulation is a construction material derived from remnants of denim and textiles. Denim and fabric manufacturers typically throw these materials away. Cotton insulation is often sold as loose fills or in batts. The material is treated with boric acid to make it resistant to fire as well as antifungal agents. Cotton insulation is one of the safest and most eco-friendly of all insulation materials.

Cellulose insulation

Cellulose insulation is made from post-consumer recycled newspaper, cardboard, and paperboard. Because it is at least 85% recycled, cellulose insulation is one of the most eco-friendly insulation materials. This material is typically applied by wetting and mushing newspaper and then spraying the mush into open wall cavities. Sometimes, the material is shredded dry and then used as loose fill in attics and basements. The material is treated with boric acid to make it fire resistant and anti-pest chemicals to protect it from decay.

Do note that although cellulose insulation is eco-friendly and relatively safe to use, some people are sensitive to the chemicals used to treat the material. Cellulose is made from wood fiber, which means it can absorb moisture. If the space is poorly insulated, the material will absorb moisture, causing the boric acid to leach out. The excess moisture also causes mold to grow. As such, this material is best in homes that get a lot of sun.

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