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Comparing Insulation Types

When considering insulation for your home, it’s important to understand the facts about different product types and options. First things first: there is no such thing as a “best insulator.” Surprised? According to the Building Sciences Corporation (BSC), all insulation types perform equally well when properly installed and air sealed.1

Understanding different insulation materials

There are four main types of home insulation products on the market today: fiberglass insulation, mineral wool insulation, cellulose insulation, and spray foam insulation. Each of these options have different qualities and attributes that may inform your choice of materials.

 Mineral wool insulation (also called rock or slag wool insulation): Made from rock, blast furnace slag, and other raw materials which are melted and spun into fibers to resemble the texture of wool. Mineral wool comes in batts, rolls or loose-fill forms. Like fiberglass, it is also used throughout a house in sidewalls, attics, floors, crawl spaces, cathedral ceilings, and basements.
 
 

Fiberglass and mineral wool insulation are produced in highly sophisticated manufacturing facilities across the US with quality controls in place.

Fiberglass and mineral wool installation—takes time and attention, but quality of installation can easily be assessed visually following a few simple guidelines.

 

 
  Slag wool and rock wool (the two types of mineral wool insulation)—contain 10-15% and 70-90% recycled content respectively.
 
 

Fiberglass and mineral wool insulation are naturally non-combustible

 

No insulation product alone is capable of preventing moisture-related problems in the home. Home moisture management is complex—it’s about letting moisture in, letting it out, and giving it the chance to evaporate.

Installing any insulation product, in part of or all of a home, can’t magically solve or prevent moisture problems. However, moisture is an important factor to consider when installing installation in a new or existing home.

In building a new home—ask your builder about their approach to addressing moisture. The strategy should take into consideration insulation, vapor retarders, material choices in the building envelope and your local climate.

In an existing home with moisture issues—hiring a specialist to diagnose and fix moisture problems is the prudent choice. The solution must consider the same factors as in new homes, though addressing the issues may be more difficult.

 If you’re concerned about mold in your home, it’s important to understand the facts. Mold is a product of moisture and the presence of food (any organic material) for mold spores. Any moisture issues should be addressed immediately (see above).

If products in the home are composed of organic material, they can be food for mold.

  • Spray foam, fiberglass and mineral wool insulation are not food sources, however mold can grow on any surface when the conditions are right.

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