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FITTING INSULATION AT HOME

Category: General
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When insulating your home it is important to ensure you have the best materials for the job. Fibreglass and mineral wool are two of the more popular types of insulation used in buildings, but both have their pros and cons. We’ve outlined some of the important factors to consider when deciding if fibreglass or mineral wool will be best for your project.


GLASS WOOL INSULATION

Glass wool insulation, also known as fibreglass, is made from glass fibres. Glass is heated to very high temperatures until it melts, and is then spun quickly to create fibres. These fibres are then bound together to be used as insulation. The glass fibres create pockets of air which act as barriers to prevent heat loss because air is a poor conductor of heat. Glass wool can be found in batts and rolls, loose-fill insulation and also within insulation boards.

MINERAL WOOL INSULATION

Mineral wool, also known as rock wool or stone wool, is made from a selection of raw materials, such as stone and glass. These raw materials are treated in a similar way to glass, in that they are melted at high temperatures until they melt, and then they are spun to form fibres, similar to wool. This wool is then packaged up into batts, rolls or slabs. 


IRRITANCY OR “ITCHING”

Some people experience temporary discomfort (or itching) when handling Mineral Wool. This itching is a mechanical reaction to the coarse fibres and generally abates shortly after exposure has ceased. Irritation of the upper respiratory tract or the eyes, similar to that caused by many other forms of dust or foreign bodies, may also be experienced by some.  These mechanical irritant effects are totally different to the “chemical” irritants usually assessed as “dangerous substances” according to the EU Directive 1272/2008.

Mineral Wool is not classified as hazardous although the mechanical effect of fibres in contact with skin may cause temporary itching. We therefore provide guidance on how to handle our product such as pictograms on product packaging. Below is an explanation of the pictograms, which are part of the installation advice, and their meaning.



R-VALUE

When comparing the two, glass wool has a slightly lower R-value of around 2.2-2.7 compared with 3.0-3.3 of mineral wool, which means it is slightly less effective at preventing heat loss through conduction.

SUSTAINABILITY

If you’re looking at the most sustainable option, glass wool is generally made up of up to 30% recycled materials, whereas mineral wool in comparison consists of up to 70% recycled materials. As environmental impact and sustainability are becoming more of a focus, this is becoming more of an important factor when choosing the right insulation material.

SOUND INSULATION

In terms of sound insulation, mineral wool is often the preferred choice for noisy areas. This is because it is much denser than glass wool, so much less sound travels through the insulation.

EASE OF INSTALLATION

If you’re considering installing the insulation yourself, mineral wool is considered much easier to handle. Although heavier than glass wool, mineral wool is much easier to cut, move and fit into place. Glass wool on the other hand is limper, which makes it hard to fit into the spaces required.


MOISTURE RESISTANCE

If you’re looking for a moisture-resistant form of insulation, mineral wool is the clear winner. Mineral wool is resistant to water, so it doesn’t get damp and provide good growing conditions for fungi, mould, mildew or other bacterial growth. Glass wool, on the other hand, can get wet and damp, and as well as promoting the growth of fungi, mildew and rot its insulating properties are severely reduced.

FIRE RESISTANCE

Although both mineral wool and glass wool are non-combustible, mineral wool has far better fire-resistant qualities, so much so that it can be used as a fire stop. Therefore, this is something to consider if where you’re installing insulation is going to be at risk of fire, and to what extent.

COST

If you’re conscious of a limited budget, then glass wool may be the choice of insulation for you. It can cost around 10% less than mineral wool, and still is effective at insulating your home to reduce heat loss and energy bills.


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