Insulating your home well is one of the fastest and best ways to improve and ensure energy efficiency. However, many people struggle with insulating because there are so many different types of insulates available. With so many different types, how are you to know which is the best type for your project and why? Also, insulation is all given an R value, and before insulating your home, you should know what exactly that R value means.
Because insulation can be complicated, let's take a look at mineral wool insulation and how it rates on the scale of insulation, and how it compares to other types of insulation, including fiberglass and cellulose.
The first thing to consider with insulation is the R value, this basically tells you how efficient the insulation is, and what temperatures it can withstand etc. For mineral wool insulation the R-value is 3.1 per inch. This is close to the R value for fiberglass and cellulose. Both have an R value of 3.2 per inch.
What is mineral wool made of?
Mineral wool, also known as rock wool, is an insulation product manufactured from steel slag. The slag, a byproduct of steel manufacturing consisting of dirt and limestone, and is combined with other chemicals, heated and spun into a fibrous material that is an excellent insulator. Fiberglass is made out of just that, and cellulose is recycles newspaper print to put it simply.
So, what are some of the benefits of mineral wool?
1. Mineral wool insulation is permanent, mineral wool does not deteriorate like cellulose might.
2. Mineral wool insulation will not rot, this is an excellent feature as sometimes moisture and other agents of rot are unavoidable.
3. Mineral wool insulation does not burn or melt, this means that it can slow down a fire in your home, and will act as both fire resistant and retardant. Fiberglass on the other hand will melt, and thus, while it does not fuel a fire, it does not stop it either. Because of its fire resistant properties, it is the insulator of choice in applications where the maximum fire resistance is desired or required.
4. Mineral wool insulation does not absorb moisture, and will not support mold or mildew. This is a great feature, just ask anyone who has ever had to take care of a mold problem in their walls.
5. It is available in batts or as a loose-fill product that can be blown into walls and ceilings. It can also be installed between wall studs by using a mesh screen across one side of the studs, allowing floor to ceiling filling with a technique virtually the same as with blown-in cellulose. The fact that it is available in many forms makes it a convenient type of insulation no matter what the project.
6. Because of its greater density and water resistant properties, mineral wool acts as a vapor barrier and, unlike fiberglass, does not need an additional vapor barrier to be effective. This makes it more convenient, and effective no matter the form.
7. Even when wet or moist it does not lose its insulating properties; fiberglass on the other hand will lose much of its insulating ability when moist.
So, what is the downside of mineral wool insulation? Well, one downside is that the installation of mineral wool is not a do-it-yourself product, and is only professionally installed. So, you do get the added cost of having to have a professional come in. The next downside is much like that of other insulation: mineral wool insulation products and fiberglass insulation share the same health concerns, especially since the type and size of the manufactured fibers are similar. Eye, skin, and lung protection are mandatory when working with this product, and if neglected the effects can be painful and extremely harmful.
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