Making a decision about a home improvement as major as replacing your insulation might seem completely overwhelming, right now. As a culture, we are constantly bombarded with information what is best for us, whether it’s food, exercise, supplements, or the materials in our environment. And, while you may have heard that spray foam insulation like Icynene is more energy efficient, taking the time to compare spray foam insulation to other types can take up your valuable time and energy. Finding the right resource to help you understand the differences can help make all the difference.
Let’s start with a brief explanation of each type of insulation available for residential application.
Fiberglass insulation is made from tiny glass fibers woven together into batting, or loose so that it can be blown in. It is the most popular type of insulation, likely due to cost and the fact that it’s an easy insulation to install without a contractor’s help. While it is a popular insulation choice for many, there are some things to keep in mind.
Unlike spray foam insulation like Icynene, fiberglass insulation does not provide an air seal. You might compare fiberglass to a wool sweater – while it can help keep you cozy, when the wind blows, there’s nothing to limit air loss. As well, when there is significant water infiltration into the home, fiberglass insulation can potentially absorb the moisture leading it to become less effective over time. This is in contrast to Icynene closed cell spray foam, which can reject bulk water. It’s also less than ideal because the batting cannot always reach to small corners or gaps, making it a less efficient insulation than Icynene spray foam, which expands to fill any areas where it is applied.
Cellulose insulation is made primarily from recycled newspaper pieces which are small enough to be blown in by a machine. This makes it a great choice for eco-conscious home owners, but there’s a caveat: similar to the problem fiberglass insulation has, cellulose is not able to create an effective air seal in your home, due to the type of material it is made from. So while the product itself is eco-friendly, the inability of cellulose to create that air barrier means that air leaks are still possible, meaning energy efficiency can potentially be compromised. Air leakage can lead to higher monthly heating and cooling bills than what you might have with spray foam insulation like Icynene.
Similar to fiberglass in that it is generally spun into fiber batting, mineral wool is made from synthetic or man-made materials such as slag or ceramics. With mineral wool insulation, the same problems that are present with fiberglass insulation are present: difficulty achieving an effective air barrier, unlike Icynene spray foam insulation, due to an inability to reach tiny gaps and cracks that may be present, as well as the porousness of the material.
As well, the fact that water can pass through can potentially compromise the quality or efficacy of the mineral wool insulation, makes it a less effective insulation.
Foam board insulation can be a cost effective means of insulating your home, depending on the type of material it is made from. And this is the crux of foam board insulation – it can be effective in creating a superior air barrier to mineral wool, cellulose, and fiberglass, however some types of foam use CFCs as the blowing agent. In particular, XPS foam, or extruded polystyrene, and polyisocyanurate foam use ozone-depleting blowing agents.
Insulated Cement or Concrete Blocks
There are a number of different ways concrete can be modified or used to help insulate your home. Some manufacturers add foam beads into their concrete blocks, or fill them with insulation, in order to increase R-value. While there is definitely great thermal resistance when using concrete blocks to insulate, one major drawback is that this type of insulation is installed in brand new homes far more easily than existing homes. In contrast, Icynene spray foam insulation can be applied in either scenario, making it a more flexible material to insulate homes with.
There are always going to be benefits and drawbacks to the choices you make, when it comes to renovating or retrofitting your home with more energy efficient insulation. When it comes to Icynene spray foam insulation, the benefits outweigh any of the negligible drawbacks. Icynene is an investment in the future of your home, no matter how you look at it.
Talk to a licensed Icynene spray foam insulation contractor in your area, to find out more reasons why Icynene is the best choice for your home, or your project.