What are the differences between insulation types?

Many people ask us what are the differences between spray foam insulation and the mineral wool or earth wool insulation. In this article we bring the main differences and the reasons why we think you should avoid spray foam insulation at your home.

What is it made of?

Spray foam insulation

Till this day, no ECO green formula for spray foam insulation production has been found. Spray foam insulation contain 100% chemicals and without a doubt this is the most dangerous and unhealthy insulation type that can be installed in a regular family house.

According to EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), spray foam insulation contain chemical like isocyanates, polyurethane and methylene diphenyl isocyanate.

Picture by: dunktanktechnician CC By 2.0

Isocyanates, such as MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), are chemicals that react with polyols to form polyurethane. They can also cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, asthma, and chemical sensitization when absorbed through the skin or inhaled.

Polyurethane exists in a lot of products, from foam mattresses to bowling balls. When it is fully reacted or “cured,” it is stable and its chemistry is not a significant concern. However, some products such as adhesives, coatings, and spray foam, react while being applied by builders or homeowners doing insulation retrofits, and continue to react for hours afterwards. In these cases, people are exposed to isocyanates after the installation.

Mineral wool/Earth wool insulation

Mineral Wool is the most common type of thermal insulation worldwide and has been widely used over the past 60 years. Mineral Wool insulation products are designed and produced to ensure healthy, safe and environmentally-friendly solution to where people live and work. Mineral Wool insulation products are safe to manufacture, install and use when recommended work practices are followed.

Earth wool products are made using ECO Technology, a revolutionary bio-based formaldehyde-free binding technology. The insulation produced has a natural brown color and represents a level of sustainability never before seen.

The bio-based binding process makes Earth wool/Mineral wool much softer, making it easier to handle.

Installation and Removal

Spray foam insulation

Because spray foam insulation made of 100% chemicals, the materials have to stay in secure storage and installation tools. The material is very dangerous when humans expose to it.

The installation must be done by a professional insulation installation expert. The contractor needs to wear a full body and face cover to avoid any contact with the spray foam. During the installation process it is recommended to be out of home and stay out for at least 3 hours after the installation completed, because of the high risk of be exposed.

After the spray foam has been installed it become very complicated and even impossible to remove. That’s why it is not recommended to install spray foam insulation near electrical wires or water pipe areas (both are usually places as well in the loft area). The spray foam insulation can be removed by knife or by a saw while wearing a full body suite and face cover to avoid any contact with the inner part of the foam.

According to California 2019 building regulations – spray foam insulation is not recommended to family house installation.

Mineral wool / Earth wool insulation

Mineral wool insulation hold ECO green certificate signature, that’s why mineral wool can be installed without a full body and face cover. The installation needs to be done by experienced installer with flexibility and special movements to move inside the loft and prevent any damage in the ceiling (made of drywall).

The installer must be very careful and step only on the studs and beams in the loft to avoid breaking the ceiling of the below floor. There is no risk to be at the house during the installation process and right after the installation.

After the installation has been done properly, the insulation will fit between the studs so if in the future there is any electrician or plumber works on your wires or water pipes, you can just move the insulation aside. After he finish you need just to place the insulation back between the studs easily.

Cost price

Spray foam insulation

Spray foam insulation is the most expensive insulation on the market now, the main reason for the higher price is the special tools, machine and cloths that involved in any installation.

On the top of it the spray foam made in manufacturing establishments that have to comply with standards and approvals that do not harm their environment in the production process, costly regulation that effect the final price.

The minimum price for a small 40 sqm project is about ₤1500 for the installation only and without loft cleaning or sanitize.

Mineral wool / Earth wool insulation

Mineral wool and Earth wool insulation are the most affordable type:

  • The materials of Mineral wool/Earth wool insulation made of recycled ingredients which significantly lowers the final cost.
  • The Mineral wool/Earth wool insulation have ECO green certificate and doesn’t require special installation tools or safe storage, a fact that cut the product cost.
  • The Mineral wool / Earth wool insulation comes with life time warranty from the manufacturer. The product lasts for many years.

Energy Efficiency

Spray foam insulation

Spray foam

Spray foam insulation can be installed only on the rafters, because if it will be installed on the loft floor (or room ceiling) your loft become useless and without any accessibility.

This is why you get up to 70% from the insulation benefits because the roof vents, designed to create an air circulation inside the loft and prevent mold and odder, brings cold or hot air all the time and the loft’s floor is not isolated. The air circulation goes through the ceiling directly inside the house.

Spray foam saves up to ₤60 per month.

Mineral wool / Earth wool insulation

The Mineral wool/ Earth wool insulation can be installed anywhere. In walls, loft, rafters and even the floor. There are no limitations so it is more likely that there will be no air leakage to the house without damage the air circulation inside your loft.

With using Mineral wool / Earth wool insulation you can get 99% energy efficiency from the installation and save up to ₤100 per month.

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