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Cellulose, Fiberglass, or Mineral: Which Blow-In Insulation Material Is Best for Your Home?

Proper insulation is an important aspect of keeping your house comfortable and livable. It helps attain a balanced temperature in your living spaces depending on the weather or climate outside. Insulation also plays a role in achieving optimum indoor air quality and, as a consequence, preserving the health and wellbeing of everyone in your home. Lastly, your insulation system will contribute to the long-term value of your property if it’s taken care of during your preventive maintenance.

There are several ways to insulate a house, taking a number of factors into consideration. If you’re building a new home, it’s easy to incorporate insulation directly into the  structure through the use of materials like insulating concrete forms and blocks or structural panels with built-in insulation. These solutions ensure long-term protection against the elements and more effective temperature regulation.

On the other hand, if you’ve purchased or moved into an existing property, the structure may already have insulation in place. However, there’s a chance it may already be damaged, dilapidated, or outdated. This renders the insulation ineffective. When that happens, it’s best to repair or switch out the insulation material using materials like blanket insulation or foam boards. These are materials you can easily purchase from a hardware store and install yourself on the walls and surfaces of your home.

Below is a guide on the different methods and materials that can be used for insulating your home. If you’re considering blow-in insulation in particular, this article will help you choose between the common options for materials, namely cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral wool.

Different types of home insulation

A Brief Comparison of the Insulation Methods and Materials That Can Be Used for Your Home

One of the common methods of insulating residential properties is the use of blanket or batt and roll insulation. This type of insulation may be made of mineral wool, natural wool, or fiberglass. Another commonly used insulation solution is foam boards, which are made of polystyrene, polyurethane, or other types of plastic. You can also install insulation products with reflective films, which help reflect radiant heat and thus regulate the temperature inside the home. However, the application of these insulation materials may not be completely effective or as long-lasting as you’d like.

Appling attic insulation

You can choose instead to insulate the existing walls and floors in your home through other methods, without having to tear them down or open them up just to apply insulating material beneath the surface. Using foam-based insulating material, for instance, only requires that you inject it into the wall. Such a method also serves to reinforce your walls for structural integrity.

Lastly, there’s a type of insulating material called “loose-fill” that can be blown into the wall cavity. The method of doing so is called blow-in insulation, and it’s one of the most efficient ways of insulating existing structures. Loose-fill insulation material may be made of fiberglass, cellulose, or mineral wool. Which among these three is best for your home? Here’s a quick guide on the characteristics of each loose-fill or blow-in insulation material, complete with their pros and cons.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is one of the most common insulating materials in the market. It’s made of glass that’s molten and spun into fine fibers. Most fiberglass loose-fill insulation material uses 40 percent to 60 percent recycled glass, which also renders it a very environmentally friendly option. It is also non-flammable, which will enhance the fire safety of your home. Since it is made of an inorganic material, it is impervious to mold and mildew. This is another quality of fiberglass that will improve your indoor air quality.

There are, however, a few cons to using fiberglass material. Too much contact with it sometimes results in cases of irritant contact dermatitis, where the home resident’s skin gets inflamed. Very fine fiberglass dust can also trigger allergies or asthma attacks.

Fiberglass may also lose its R-value, or its resistance to heat flow, under conditions such as extreme cold. The last caveat is that it may not create a firm and seamless enough barrier against air and moisture. Nevertheless, with proper installation, you can be certain that fiberglass insulation will do what it is supposed to do for your home.

Cellulose

Cellulose insulating material is usually made from newspaper and similar recycled paper products. Because cellulose insulation contains as much as 85 percent recycled material, it is an even more eco-friendly option. The paper is processed into tiny pieces and then made into fibers, creating a material that you can firmly pack into structural cavities in order to attain your desired insulating effect.

But since it is made of paper, cellulose material is flammable. Its organic quality also means that there’s a chance that mold and mildew will grow on it. It’s also worth noting that cellulose insulation material may also contain additives like borate or ammonium sulfate. These are usually added to enhance the material’s resistance against fire and damage from insects.

Mineral Wool

Mineral wool loose-fill insulation material generally comes in two types. Rock wool is a material comprising natural minerals such as basalt or diabase. Slag wool, on the other hand, is composed of waste material found on the surface of molten metal. This is also commonly referred to as blast furnace slag. Mineral wool typically contains 75 percent post-industrial recycled material, thus making it an environment-friendly choice as well. By nature, it is already fire-resistant and is also widely used in many types of insulation applications.

However, there are also some disadvantages of mineral wool that homeowners and contractors must take note of. For one, mineral wool insulation tends to sag over time. If it’s applied onto a vertical wall or ceiling, it can sink and leave gaps, thereby reducing its overall performance at insulating the space. It’s also not easy for mineral wool to dry when it gets damp, and it may be both costly and time-consuming to replace it. There are also times that mineral wool can hold on to warm air for too long, and when it cools down, it can yield condensation.

Choosing the Best Insulation Solutions for Your Residence

Based on this survey, you may want to consider a solution like blow-in insulation for the insulation needs of your home. Blow-in insulation will be especially helpful if you’re not looking to do any major renovation or remodeling. You can easily work with the existing structure and prevent any noticeable disruptions to your family’s daily routine.

Your ideal choice of material will depend on factors like the size of your home, your budget, your timeframe, and the overall lifestyle of your household. Whichever material you choose, what’s important is that you attain proper insulation for your whole home. This is what will make everyday living inside of it comfortable, enjoyable, and rewarding.

Published in: Home advice | Author: Sophia

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