Insulation can be divided into building insulation, soundproofing, thermal insulation, electrical insulation and some uncommon one is genetic insulation. There are all kinds of insulation available. The easiest way to understand insulation is insulation keeps cold stuff cold and hot stuff hot. A blanket can be a good example of an insulator. The more complicated one, for example, a building insulation is an insulation that is being done to buildings for comfort and energy efficiency. Soundproofing, also known as acoustic insulation is a mean of reducing the intensity of sound. Thermal insulation, for example is materials used to reduce the rate of heat transfer. Electrical insulation is the use of material to resist the flow of electric current. In genetics, an insulator is a regulatory sequence found between enhancers and promotors to improve the gene specificity of regulatory proteins.

A variety of materials can be use as insulation. The list includes fibrous insulation, insulated panels, foam insulation, straw panels. Other than these, conventional cellulose, mineral wool and fiberglass can also be used as insulators. There are also many common insulation materials available including wool, polystyrene, glass wool, mineral wool, paper-based insulation and polyester.

Insulation performance is measured by R-value – its ability to resist heat flow. The ability of a material to resist heat flow is measured according to R values

Fiberglass is a very good insulator. Manufacturers produce high density fiberglass batt insulation. These are ideal for insulating cavity spaces like cathedral ceilings. The medium density batt have double fiberglass and high density batt have thrice fiberglass. Higher density batt is expensive. Some manufacturers offer fibrous insulation which is combination of two types of fiberglass. This new form of insulator causes less skin irritation and greatly reduce the danger of respiratory disease.

At some point you may want to make the summer cottage into a place you can visit all year round. A cottage getaway for Christmas and New Years can be romantic, exciting, cozy, and relaxing. Therefore, cottage insulations are readily available in the market. It is available in the form of batt or loose fill. The polyester, recycled cotton and nylon fibers are treated with flame retardant and insect repellant to obtain this insulation. The main advantage of this insulator is it doesn’t cause skin irritation like conventional fiberglass. This insulation may not be readily available in some parts of country.

Another type of insulator consists of three sub types of insulators and is generically named as mineral wool insulation. The first sub types of insulator is glass wool / fiber glass which is made from silicates or recycled glass, the second one is rock wool which is obtained from the igneous virgin basalt and the third one is slag wool which is made from the slag of steel mill. The major part of the mineral wool in US is slag wool which is stiff and brittle. This insulation is fire resistant and has sound proofing effect. Nowadays a soft mineral wool is also available. This is compressible and hence is fit for insertion between framing members. It expands to press against the framing members that add to the insulation effectiveness. The price of this insulator is nearly 15% higher than the fiberglass. It is fragile than the fiberglass also.

Another type of insulation that can be seen in the market is the plastic fiber insulation. These batts are made up of recycled plastic milk bottle (polyethylene terephthalate or PET). These fibers are extremely thick and are able to give the effect similar to high density fiberglass. Since this insulator is obtained from recycled content it has a good market value. This insulation also does not irritate the skin. It doesn’t readily burn but it does melt when exposed to flame. Plastic fiber insulation is relatively non-irritating to work with, but the batts reportedly can be difficult to handle and cut with standard tools.

Recycled Plastic Insulation
Insulation Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles

Several other fibers are being tested for the prospects use as insulators. The list of such materials includes hemp, straw and wool. The two of them, namely wool and hemp are commercially available in US. Straw is kind of cellulose and has good insulating properties.

There are certain insulation foams available like Urethane foam and Nitrogen based Plastic foam. Some cement based insulations are also available along with the phenolic insulation. Many types of insulations are gaining popularity in the building industry.

Related Home Insulation Guide