Types of Blown Insulation Materials

A house needs to be properly insulated to save on energy. The walls, ceilings and roofing of a house need some form of insulation to avoid heat lost in the winter and to prevent heat from coming in the house during the hot months.   For a house to be truly energy-efficient and cost-effective, it should be airtight.

Insulation is a form of barrier between the walls, floors and ceiling of the house. It will reduce drafts, dust, amount of heating or cooling needed and even minimize noise pollution.  Loose-fill or blown-in insulation is the way to go for older homes with insufficient insulation on their cavity walls and unfinished attics.  Loose-fill insulation is blown-in or pumped into pre-existing cavity walls by using pneumatic equipment commonly known as blow-in insulation machines.

An avid do-it-yourself-er can do the job of insulating his home with loose-fill insulation. He would have t rent a blow-in insulation machine and choose which type of loose-fill material will meet his requirements. There are three general types of blown insulation materials currently available: fiberglass, cellulose and rock wool.

Fiberglass loose-fill insulation is made glass and sand that are spun or “blown” into fibers.  This type of insulation is great for wall cavities and attics. It can properly insulate an area and protect it too from moisture which could lead to the formation of fungus and mildew.   In this age or recycling, most manufacturers use 20% to 30% recycled glass.  Most quality loose-fill fiberglass will not only prevent moisture from seeping in the house but the material itself will not rot as it won’t absorb moisture.  Fiberglass has a high R-value, non flammable, non-corrosive, pest-resistant and non-combustible.

Cellulose loose-fill insulation is a very popular choice as a material as it is eco-friendly and safe for human contact. Cellulose is generally made from 85% recycled newsprint, shredded and treated with fire retardant.  Ammonium sulfate and borate are the chemicals used as fire retardants and these chemicals also prevent pests’ infestation and mold.  When choosing a brand of cellulose, do not buy those that contain mineral fibers and formaldehyde. Dry cellulose is a wise choice for insulating existing cavity walls for it will definitely fill up all the gaps and cracks without causing discomfort to the persons doing the insulation.  The R-value of cellulose is high.

Rock wool loose-fill insulation is made from minerals and rocks.  It is actually similar to fiberglass but instead of being spun from glass and sand (molten glass), it is spun from slag and other rock-like materials.  Rock wool is also known as slag insulation, mineral wool insulation or stone wool insulation.   This insulator can definitely block heat, condensation and sound and does not rot or absorb moisture.

When applying any of these materials, consider using safety goggles and gloves. However, is best to get the services of a qualified weatherization contractor.