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4 Mineral Wool Insulation Alternatives

Jun. 17, 2024

4 Mineral Wool Insulation Alternatives

Updated: Oct 21,

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When it comes to home insulation materials, mineral wool is one of the most popular. Mineral Wool is made from crushed, melted rocks which are spun into thin stands and layered together in mats before being treated with a chemical binder and heated in an oven over degrees Fahrenheit for hardening.

Mineral Wool has long been regarded as a go-to for many home builders thanks to its durability and insulative properties. However, with the push for eco-friendly materials becoming larger by the day, mineral wool is less highly regarded by home builders seeking the most sustainable options. Alternatives to mineral wool are currently in severe demand, and thankfully there are plenty to choose from.

In case you&#;re in charge of insulating a home and you want a superior, eco-friendly alternative to mineral wool, let&#;s explore a few options, as well as break down some of the pros and cons of rock wool itself.

Why Isn&#;t Mineral Wood Suitable for Insulating a Home?

To sum it up, mineral wool isn&#;t eco-friendly enough for today&#;s sustainable construction standards. The production of mineral wool is not environmentally conscious in the slightest, since it requires heavy machinery to extract and requires a lot of energy to make with its high-temperature ovens. to produce, and emits tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the process.

Mineral Wool needs chemicals added in order to harden it and make it water-resistant. These chemicals prevent mineral wool from being biodegradable and in terms of cost, it&#;s more expensive than the average insulation. RockWool has however, done a great job at elevating the importance of a well insulated thermal envelope. Thanks to RockWool, more builders are conscious to the insulation choices being made within the thermal envelope of a home or building.

The 4 Best Alternatives to Mineral Wool Insulation

If you&#;re looking to minimize the carbon footprint of your insulation and are concerned about the emissions of mineral wool manufacturing, there&#;s no need to worry. There are a ton of alternatives that perform just as well in all the relevant metrics, yet aren&#;t nearly as harmful to the environment.

1. Sheep&#;s Wool

Unlike mineral wool, sheep&#;s wool is made from the actual wool of sheep. It is soft, and thick, and makes an excellent choice for insulating your home. Sheep&#;s wool is made by shredding the wool of sheep and compressing it into thick mats that can be cut to size. It comes in batts which are easily stuffed into wall cavities during installation.

Sheep&#;s wool is much more eco-friendly than mineral wool because it&#;s a highly renewable resource that takes only a pair of clippers to harvest. That said, there is a carbon aspect of Sheep&#;s wool, in that the wool itself comes from New Zealand to the US. Transport on cargo ships burning bunker fuel is not environmentally friendly, even if the material itself is.

Sheep&#;s wool is naturally resistant to moisture and will even absorb and release moisture into the air as the humidity in the home changes. It&#;s also naturally mold-resistant and fire-retardent too. The downside of sheep&#;s wool is that it&#;s more expensive than most other insulation options. Sheep wool insulation also comes with a carbon footprint from raising sheep.

2. Cotton

Cotton insulation is made by shredding up recycled cotton, like old pairs of blue jeans and other cotton clothing. The cotton is shredded and compressed into batts for installation.

Cotton is flammable by nature, so borate is added during the process to make it flame-retardant. This lowers the eco-friendliness of cotton a bit, but it&#;s still technically recyclable.

Cotton is naturally resistant to insects and will not cause respiratory issues either. One of the main downsides of using this material as an alternative to mineral wool, however, is the cost. Cotton is about twice as expensive as standard fiberglass insulation. Today, cotton insulation is less available on the market as the primary producer of cotton insulation has shifted away from the building materials industry.

3. Aerogel

Aerogel is made from silica that has had the liquid removed and replaced with air. It&#;s 10% silica and 90% air. While incredibly lightweight, this material is an excellent insulator that makes it very difficult for heat to pass through.

Aerogel is very easy to install, and is available in sheets and stickers for quick installation. However, much like cotton, Aerogel is one of the most expensive types of mineral wool alternatives out there, costing up to two dollars per square foot at an R-value of 10.3.

One of the most eco-friendly and effective insulation options on the market right now is hemp. Hempitecture HempWool®, specifically, is known for its efficacy as an insulative material.

Hemp insulation from Hempitecture is made from 92% plant fibers, making it compostable. Using hemp fibers instead of a less eco-friendly material, like synthetic fibers, lowers the carbon footprint of the home while providing stellar insulative qualities.

Hemp insulation from Hempitecture is naturally resistant to insects, mold, and moisture. It also helps insulate against noise pollution to a certain degree as well. It can be used on walls, floors, and ceilings.

The fire retardant used to treat HempWool® is biobased and nontoxic, and it comes in batts for easy installation. Hempitecture HempWool® is also pressure fit, so it can be easily cut to size during installation for a perfect fit.

The Best Alternative to Using Mineral Wool Insulation is Hemp

Mineral wool insulation is less desirable for today&#;s standards of eco-friendliness. If you want insulation that&#;s going to stand the test of time, improve the carbon footprint of a home, and is affordable as well as efficient, look no further than Hempitecture HempWool®.

If you want the best mineral wool alternative available, contact Hempitecture today to get in touch with a professional.

10 Fiberglass Insulation Alternatives

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10 Fiberglass Insulation AlternativesBuy Now

There are alternatives to fiberglass insulation that provide better thermal resistance and are safer and more environmentally friendly. Fiberglass is the most popular insulation product because of price and availability but the following types of insulation are gaining traction.

Why Switch From Fiberglass?

As popular as fiberglass is, it does have a few negatives.

  • R-value. Fiberglass batts have an R-value of approximately R-3.2 per inch. Some competing products provide better R-values.
  • Not as Environmentally Friendly. Can use up to three times more energy during the manufacturing process. Not recyclable. Does not easily break down in landfills. Uses approximately 40% recycled materials.
  • Health Issues. Fiberglass packaged in the US states that there may be health risks associated with the product. May contain formaldehyde. May cause lung and skin irritation.
  • Flammable. Until recently, the paper on faced fiberglass was flammable. The newer products are non-flammable. But fiberglass melts&#;allowing more oxygen to feed fires.

10 Insulation Options

Insulation is the most important part of home comfort. Yet 90% of US homes are underinsulated. Choosing the best insulation for your needs includes considering factors such as cost, energy savings, ease of installation, health risks, and comfort.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam is considered one of the best insulation options. It has an R-value of R-6.5 per inch, fills and seals gaps and cracks, and wraps around protrusions like wires, pipes, electrical boxes, and framing members. Spray foam is one of the more expensive insulation options. Buying and using DIY kits often costs more than contractor-installed foam.

Spray foam insulation is used on basement walls, living area walls, and vaulted and sloped roofs. Most spray foam is installed by professional contractors. DIY spray foam kits are available for smaller projects. They are perfect for rim joist insulation and jobs in remote areas where travel costs can be prohibitive.

Icynene Spray Foam

Icynene spray foam is relatively new to the US market. It is available in open-cell and closed-cell formulations with R-values up to R-6.75. The cost is comparable to regular spray foam. It is not available in DIY kit form.

Icynene foam is 100% water blown. It contains no volatile organic compounds (VOC). Making for safer installations. Like other spray foam products, Icynene fills all cracks and gaps and eliminates airflow. Mold and mildew will not grow on it because it prevents moisture infiltration and humidity problems.

Aerogel Insulation

Aerogel is also a fairly new insulation product; even if the original invention happened in . It removes the solids from silica and replaces them with air. Dead air is the prime insulator in most products from fiberglass to rigid foam.

Aerogel is produced in thin sheets that wrap around HVAC ducting in place of fiberglass. It is also used to insulate hot water tanks and can be used as wall insulation. Aerogel is highly water-repellent, will not sag, or crack, and can be removed and used again. It costs approximately $3.00 per square foot. The R-value is R-10.3 per inch.

Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation is one of the most versatile products you can use in your home. The R-value is approximately R-3.5 per inch. It is used as loose fill in attics and walls. It is wet sprayed on walls and ceilings. It can be dense-packed in wall cavities that are already drywalled. It is even available in batt form.

Cellulose is made from 85% recycled newspapers and cardboard making it very ecologically friendly. Borates are added as a fire retardant and insect repellant. Most cellulose is installed by contractors but you can rent the equipment for a DIY project. (Wet spray is not a DIY application.)

Mineral Wool Insulation

Mineral wool insulation is produced using lava rock and slag from the iron industry. It does not absorb moisture. It is more rigid than fiberglass. Mineral wool is often specified by architects for use in multi-family buildings because it is fireproof and for its great soundproofing capabilities.

Batts are R-3.0 &#; R-3.8. Loose fill for blowing into attics is R-2.5 &#; R-3.7. Batts cost between $1.50 and $2.25 per square foot. Loose fill costs between $1.75 and $2.81 per square foot. Mineral wool insulation is much heavier than fiberglass and cellulose. Loose fill weighs over 2 lbs. per square foot&#;over one ton on a square foot attic floor.

Cotton Insulation

Cotton insulation is also known as denim insulation because it is made with recycled blue jeans among other cotton products. It does not contain formaldehyde or VOCs. Denim is an excellent soundproofing insulation material; making it ideal for noisy environments or as insulation for music rooms and theaters.

Cotton insulation has an R-value of R-3.5 per inch. It costs around $1.00 per square foot. Denim insulation may have limited availability due to a lack of raw materials for the manufacturers. It must be installed in sealed environments because it attracts rodents.

Wool Insulation

Sheep&#;s wool has been used for insulation for centuries. It has the ability to absorb moisture without losing its insulation value. Making it a good option for humid locations. Wool is also a natural fire retardant. It is difficult to light and very slow-burning if it does catch fire.

Sheep wool insulation is available in batt form or as loose-fill blow-in material. It costs between $1.10 and $3.10 per square foot depending on thickness and type. The product will last as long as the structure it is installed in and does not degrade over time. Sheep&#;s wool meets all US building codes but is not accepted in Canada.

Rigid Foam Insulation

Rigid foam insulation can be installed on interior walls or on the exterior of the building&#;including below grade. Rigid foam between the studs can replace fiberglass batts. Gluing foam to interior basement walls saves floor space, creates a vapor barrier, and keeps the basement warm.

The three popular rigid foams&#;expanded polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, and polyisocyanurate&#;range in R-value from R-3.6 to R-6.5 per inch. The cost is between $0.25 and $0.75 per board foot. (A board foot is one square foot one inch thick.)

Hemp Insulation

Hemp insulation is eco-friendly. It is made from the fast-growing hemp plant&#;which grows with few or no fertilizers and pesticides&#;and about 8% polyester. It is non-allergenic and free of VOCs. The R-value is R-3.7 per inch. Hemp costs approximately $1.80 per square foot for 3 ½&#; thick batts.

Hemp insulation is not widely available. Many states have restrictions on growing it because of its relation to marijuana.

For more information, please visit glass wool pipe supplier.

Radiant Barrier Insulation

  • Radiant barrier&#;or reflective&#;insulation does not have an R-value. It is made of reflective foil that prevents solar gain in hotter climates. (It has little value in colder climates and may be detrimental.) It is most effective when installed on the undersides of roof rafters&#;capable of reflecting up to 90% of solar heat.
  • Bubble wrap insulation is also radiant barrier insulation about &#;&#; thick that helps keep houses cool. A layer of plastic containing air bubbles&#;somewhat like packaging bubble wrap&#;is sandwiched between two layers of reflective foil. Installed under siding, it also reflects heat away from the building. Claims of anything more than R-1.0 are considered wild exaggerations, but it works very well at reducing solar gain.


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