Why insulate in the first place?
Having good insulation is one of the most important characteristics in a home. During winter, insulation will prevent the hot air generated by your heating system from escaping and, in summer, the house from overheating. This, in addition to making the home more comfortable, also avoids energy waste, which has a considerable impact on energy costs. There is no point in having a state-of-the-art heating system in a poorly insulated house, so consider this step and investment first. The insulation will also serve to improve the acoustic comfort of the house, which is especially advantageous when it comes to properties located in noisy areas.
The money spent on insulation will depend on the type of insulation, the size of the house and how old it is. However, as insulation has a positive effect when it comes to reducing energy costs, investment is quickly recovered.
You can insulate the windows, doors, roof and floor, but the walls are the most important since it is through it that 30% to 40% of the heat is lost. After the walls, the roof (25%) and doors and windows (20%) follow, with the floor at the bottom. We will then focus on wall insulation. Take note.
Thermal insulation for wall types
Depending on the type of wall in your home, you can use:
Insulation of double walls: these walls have a gap between the outer and inner sheet, so the insulator is inserted into the wall through holes that are refilled with cement.
Solid wall insulation: they do not have a gap, which is why you will have to choose between internal or external insulation. External wall insulation covers the facade and the interior is, as the name implies, applied to the interior walls of the house.
Does the thermal insulation of walls control humidity? Yes. The insulation means that the temperature of the house does not fluctuate, which prevents the appearance of moisture. On the contrary, in a poorly insulated house, it is difficult – or even impossible – to maintain the temperature level. Cellulose insulation is a good option since the material has breathing capabilities that absorb up to 15% of moisture without changing it, which is not the case with glass wool or rock wool that are permeable to moisture and see their capacity insulating to decrease.
However, in addition to insulation, the house must be well ventilated and have vapor extractors, heat treatment of linear thermal bridges and heating.
Other types of wall insulating materials are:
Fiberglass Wall Insulation
One of the most popular materials to insulate the walls. We started with glass wool – also known as fiberglass – which is possibly the most used type of insulation today. This material, as the name suggests, is made of fiberglass and exhibits a texture identical to wool. It is an insulating material manufactured in rolls / blankets, tubes, felts or plates. It is often used in construction and other sectors due to its excellent thermal and acoustic performance and mechanical properties. Furthermore, it does not harm the surface it is in contact with, does not lose its insulating capacity over time and does not promote the appearance of fungi and bacteria.
Glass fiber or wool, however, must be handled with great care because dust and billions of small pieces of glass can affect the eyes, skin and lungs. Its installation must be done by a professional properly protected with a suit with pants and long sleeves, gloves, glasses and mask.
Rock wool wall Insulation
Its composition includes basaltic rock and other organic materials that are not harmful to health. Rock wool is non-combustible and guarantees excellent thermal and acoustic performance, maintaining mechanical stability up to 800ºC. It is very resistant and long lasting, it is light and, therefore, easy to handle, cut and install and does not retain water.
Cellulose wall insulation
Cellulose insulation is the most environmentally friendly. Cellulose is made from recycled cardboard, newsprint and other scraps of paper that are mixed with a chemical that slows down flames and makes it resistant to insects. As it is a compact material, it has almost no oxygen and, as such, it is an excellent product to minimize fire damage. The material is purchased in blocks and provides a very satisfactory insulation with a good quality-price ratio. However, it can cause allergies because of newspaper dust. Furthermore, it tends to lose volume over the years and there are fewer companies that are dedicated to installing this type of insulating material (if compared to the number of companies that install glass wool, for example).
Wall insulation with polyurethane foam
Polyurethane foam is also an excellent form of insulation. This foam, today, uses nonchlorofluorocarbon gas (CFC) as an expansion agent, which helps to mitigate damage to the ozone layer. The foam weighs about 1 kilo per cubic meter, that is, it is quite light. There are low density foams that can be applied to areas that are not insulated. It is also worth noting that the foam is fire resistant. In the form of a spray, it is a very practical solution to fill gaps and crevices that cause air leakage – such as those that appear around doors and windows.
XPS and EPS polystyrene wall insulation
Have you heard of XPS and EPS polystyrene? It is the same material, but XPS is extruded polystyrene and EPS is expanded polystyrene. This synthetic thermal insulator resembles plastic and appears as a very light rigid foam that can take on different colors, among which blue stands out. Polystyrene has excellent thermal performance, is easy to install, highly resistant to water absorption and does not favor the appearance of mold. In addition, it is lightweight, which reduces the weight of buildings and stresses on support structures. The polystyrene plates must be placed between the double walls and fixed to the interior cloth with special supports. It is essential that the plates are installed perfectly to prevent thermal bridges.
Insulation of walls with cork
Cork is very familiar to us. It comes from the cork oaks – has a natural origin – and is recyclable. Cork is crafted to be presented in slabs or granules. Although impermeable to water, it is permeable to steam. However, it resists aging and exhibits excellent properties in maintaining temperature in the face of thermal variations and with regard to soundproofing.
Wall insulation with insulating mesh
The insulating screen is in the form of reflective sheets that cover flexible thermal insulation films. It is resistant to water and moisture and stands out for its light weight and easy application. It can be placed vertically – in air boxes – or horizontally under floating floors. It also functions as a condensation barrier.