Advantages and Disadvantages of Common Types of Insulation

Insulation is an important component in your home and workplace. It not only keeps the air at a comfortable and consistent temperature, but good insulation will help keep your energy bills low.

There are several types of insulation materials to choose from for your home, each with its own pros and cons. As you’re making decisions about what type of thermal insulation you should put in your residence or place of work, consider these advantages, disadvantages, and installation information:

Here are the most common types of insulation materials:

Fiberglass

When you consider the most popular types of thermal insulation materials, you might immediately think about fiberglass—and for a good reason. Fiberglass is one of the most commonly used building insulation materials and is often used for air conditioning insulation. This substance is made of glass fibers, blown or spun to form insulation.

  • Advantage: Most common, non-flammable, resistant to moisture damage, and effectively blocks heat flow.
  • Disadvantage: It can be highly irritating to your skin and lungs if you come in direct contact with it.
  • Installation: Fairly simple, and you can do it yourself. Typically, fiberglass comes in batts, blankets, and loose-fill that you can fit in between studs and beams.

Cellulose

If you’re looking for more eco-friendly types of thermal insulation, consider cellulose. This type of insulation material contains up to 85% of recycled materials that are shredded and fiberized to become insulation. Cellulose is often made into loose-fill insulation and can fit into compact spaces.

  • Advantage: Environmentally friendly as it is made from organic, recycled paper and cardboard.
  • Disadvantage: While it is treated to be resistant to moisture and pests, its insulating ability decreases significantly when it absorbs moisture. As a result, cellulose insulation needs to be replaced about every five years.
  • Installation: Installed by blowing into place or pouring it into the desired location, which makes it easier to fill oddly shaped areas.

Rock Wool (Also Called Mineral Wool)

There are two types of mineral wool: slag wool and rock wool. Rock wool is composed of natural materials such as basalt or diabase. Mineral wools are types of insulation materials that are often formed into batts insulation.

  • Advantage: Fire resistant since it is able to withstand extremely high temperatures, as well as noise resistant. Comparable to fiberglass.
  • Disadvantage: Rock wool is more expensive and not as common as other insulating materials.
  • Installation: This thermal insulation material is installed as sheets into walls.

Spray Foam

While we’ve gone over three common types of insulation materials, there are a few more worth discussing; one being liquid spray foam. There are two varieties of spray foam to choose from—open-cell foam and closed-cell foam.

This type of thermal insulation is constructed of chemicals that create a foam-like material and are ideal for unfinished walls. As the name suggests, sprayed foam insulation is often sprayed or injected into an area that expands and solidifies.

  • Advantage: Sprayed/foamed materials are excellent for enclosing and insulating existing walls, abnormally shaped areas, or working around obstructions. They are also energy efficient.
  • Disadvantage: Liquid polyurethane foam isn’t very thick and contracts with age, pulling away from the framing.
  • Installation: Small quantities come in spray containers, but if you need large quantities, you may have to purchase a pressurized sprayer.

Foam Boards

Foam boards are another type of thermal insulation material made into common household insulators. This material is ideal for unfinished walls, such as foundation and basement walls.

  • Advantage: Can insulate almost any area of your home.
  • Disadvantage: Can be costly when installed on finished/existing walls.
  • Installation: Rigid panels are installed in areas of your home.

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers—such as sheep’s wool, cotton, and straw—can be used as a type of thermal insulation for your home. However, these materials must first undergo a chemical treatment before being used as insulation.

  • Advantage: Compromised of recycled natural materials.
  • Disadvantage: Natural fiber materials must first undergo a chemical treatment before being used as insulation. 
  • Installation: These materials are often turned into batts or panel insulation.

Additional Ways to Increase Energy Savings

Insulation isn’t the only way to save on your energy costs! Having the right air conditioning system for your home or workplace is a must.

Check out our blog and knowledge center for more information. If you’re in the Metro Atlanta area, contact an HVAC professional who can come meet your residential and commercial HVAC needs.

Choosing the Best Insulation for You

There are advantages and disadvantages of thermal insulation materials, but it is also crucial to consider the actual type of insulation that will be best for your home. Loose-fill, blankets, batts, and rolls also have pros and cons. For instance, batt insulation is available in pre-cut sizes, while rolls can come with kraft paper, which acts as a vapor and air barrier.

However, your home may need more than new insulation to feel warm and comfortable. If you need emergency heating repair in Atlanta, call Gagne for residential heating services. Our professional HVAC technicians have the expertise to fix your heating system according to your needs.

If you have an HVAC emergency in Alpharetta, GA, contact Gagne today!