The Best Insulation Material for Sound & Heat

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Examine the best methods to insulate your house against noise and heat.
Examine the best methods to insulate your house against noise and heat. (Image: house blueprint and house model studio isolated image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

Insulation is used in houses to preserve heat in the winter. It acts as a barrier by covering or enclosing areas with material for comfort and efficiency. Insulation can also be used to act as a sound barrier. Insulation is rated in thermal resistance known as the R-value. The best insulation has the highest R-value; however, compressed insulation will not provide full R-value, and which kind of insulation is best may depend on the space you need to install it.

Fiberglass and Cellulose Insulation

Fiberglass is one of the most common types of insulation. Typically pink or yellow, it can come in batts, rolls or can be blown into a space. The best type of fiberglass insulation has vapor barriers. Rolls of fiberglass material might or might not have vapor barriers. Cellulose is a fiber made from recycled paper or scrap which is shredded and has chemicals added to it. It is both fire and insect resistant. Cellulose can be poured or blown into a space as loose fill or sprayed in wet by a machine.

Rock Wool and Synthetic Insulation

Rock wool is made from molten rock. As an insulating material, it can be used as hollow brick or as concrete blocks. Synthetic insulation includes polystyrene foam that comes in the form of precut boards, polyurethane foam and expanding foam that comes in a spray. Foams can thoroughly seal even tiny areas in a house by expanding up to four times its original size on application .

The Best Soundproofing Insulation

Houle Insulation Inc. conducted a sound transmission class test on two walls to determine the resistance in a ceiling, wall and floors for sound passage. One was filled with fiberglass batts and the other with cellulose. They were compared to a noninsulated wall and to each other. The noninsulated wall scored 35, compared to the fiberglass-filled wall which scored as more soundproof at 29. The cellulose filled wall, however, scored the highest with a score of 44, indicating it was the best in reducing sound transmission. This appears to be due to the fact that fiberglass batts can leave gaps because they are cut and patched together while cellulose thoroughly fills spaces in ceilings or walls as it is sprayed in. It totally encases plumbing, wiring and other obstacles.

Which Insulation Is Best in Particular Spaces in Your House

The best insulation to use often depends on the type of space you need to insulate. Use mineral wool quilt, blown cellulose fiber or blown-in mineral wool to insulate a roof or loft. Preformed split foam, mineral wool mat, foil/fiberglass insulation and vinyl-faced or ridged foam insulation are best for insulating pipe or ducts. To insulate walls, use cellulose which is blown in or fiberglass batts and rolls.

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