Types of Insulation – Ultimate Guide

What types of Insulation are there?

Are you interested in insulating your home but aren’t sure about the best insulation method to use? Whether you’ll be insulating your walls, floors, loft or something else, you’’ likely be familiar with some of the most popular types of insulation available.

This way, you can make a well-informed decision that aligns with your home’s needs and your budget. 

Our guide dives deeper into eight various insulation types and materials, such as spray foam, rigid foam boards, insulation batts, and others. Below, we explore their uses, pros and cons, costs, and a brief description of each.

Option 1: Spray Foam Insulation

Our list begins with this effective yet pricey type of insulation, known as spray foam. This material is made of polyisocyanurate or polyurethane, which you apply in liquid form to your walls or floors.

Afterwards, it expands to fill any cavities or holes. Then, it hardens to ensure an airtight seal that prevents heat from escaping the room.

Spray Foam Insulation Pros

  • Has great soundproofing qualities
  • Perfect for hard-to-reach areas in lofts, attics, and ceilings
  • Increases the thermal efficiency of your property thanks to its firm seal
  • Promises a good return on investment because of its 100-year lifespan!

Spray Foam Insulation Cons

  • Not suitable as a DIY project since it requires a professional installer with ample experience
  • An expensive option

Spray Foam Insulation Uses

  • Unfinished attic floors
  • Enclosed walls and cavity walls
  • Concrete block walls
  • Around obstructions such as wiring, ductwork, etc.
  • Lofts

Spray Foam Insulation Cost

Spray foam is one of the most expensive insulation materials on the market. 

It typically costs between £20 and £60 per square metre, but the expenses will add up since you’ll hire someone to do it. In most cases, a contractor won’t charge you more than £500.

Here’s a table that summarises the prices of spray foam as a material for different property types:

Property typeSpray foam cost
Flat£1,200–£1,600
Maisonette£2,500–£2,900
Medium-sized house£3,400–£4,000

For a more accurate estimate of what you’ll be paying for spray foam insulation, you can easily contact a professional to get a quote

Option 2: Rigid Foam Board Insulation

The next highly effective variety that many homeowners invest in is rigid foam insulation. Here, rigid plasterboard made of polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, or polyurethane is fixed to the walls or floors with adhesive.

The best thing about rigid foam is that it’s affordable and easy to install, making it a convenient choice for DIYers. 

In addition, it works in multiple applications to give you an admirable degree of thermal resistance.

Rigid Foam Insulation Pros

  • Available in various thicknesses between 60mm and 100mm
  • Good for replacing existing insulation
  • Budget-friendly

Rigid Foam Insulation Cons

  • Has a shorter lifespan compared to spray foam (around 50 years)
  • Gets worn out faster with sunlight exposure
  • Needs tightening in wall cavities to prevent air infiltration

Rigid Foam Insulation Uses

  • Exterior and interior walls
  • Ceilings and floors
  • Foundation walls
  • Attic hatches
  • Cavity walls

Rigid Foam Insulation Cost

Rigid foam boards tend to vary in price point according to their thickness as well as their core material. On average, you may need to pay around £10–£30 per square metre.

If you plan to hire a contractor to carry out the job, they will charge you extra, of course. But the beauty of this insulation is that you can save installation costs and learn how to insulate your home on your own!

Option 3: Insulation Batts or Rolls (Blanket Insulation)

Next, blanket insulation refers to using batts or rolls of fibreglass or mineral wool to insulate various areas in your home. Some other popular materials for those batts include sheep’s wool or synthetic fibres.

Blanket insulation is another favourite of DIYers. It only requires you to cut the batts to the size you need and fit them into the right places. 

Just be careful to wear protective gear while you’re working with these rolls as their fibres could irritate your skin and eyes.

Blanket Insulation Pros

  • Easy to mark up, cut, and fit into its designated places without professional help
  • Affordable, making it perfect for limited budgets
  • Allows you to slide it under joists with no hassle or special equipment
  • Works seamlessly between wall studs
  • Fire- and water-resistant

Blanket Insulation Cons

  • Wears down faster than other insulation types because it’s less durable
  • Has a relatively high U-value of 0.09 to 0.22

Blanket Insulation Uses

  • Loft ceiling and floor insulation projects
  • Regular floors and ceilings
  • Unfinished walls
  • Foundation and basement walls

Blanket Insulation Cost

On average, you can expect to pay only £8 per square metre for a three-layer fibreglass blanket.

Option 4: Acoustic Insulation

Do you have a home studio where you need to keep the sound in or a family room that you want to isolate from the noise of your neighbourhood? 

You can get the best of both worlds and install acoustic insulation that offers you the benefits of regular thermal insulation!

Usually, acoustic insulation includes a blend of sheep’s wool, mineral fibre, and other soundproofing layers.

Acoustic Insulation Pros

  • Limits room-to-room noise
  • A combination of thermal and acoustic insulation at a reasonable price
  • Available in a multitude of forms such as boards, rolls, etc. and various thicknesses to fit your interior space
  • Great for people who want to handle their soundproofing project themselves

Acoustic Insulation Cons

  • Too many market options might be confusing for homeowners
  • Not as sturdy as rigid foam or spray foam insulation

Acoustic Insulation Uses

  • Home studios
  • Bedrooms
  • Homes in busy and noisy neighbourhoods

Acoustic Insulation Cost

Because it’s available in different forms, it’s only natural for acoustic insulation to have a flexible price point. 

As a result, you may find an acoustic insulation roll or board for as high as £170 or as low as £30!

Option 5: Multifoil Insulation

If you need an insulation material that offers incredible thermal resistance in tight spaces, look no further than multifoil or foil insulation. 

Available as panels or rolls, this insulation type consists of multiple layers of foil and other insulating materials compressed thin.

With a lifespan of over fifty years and amazing flexibility that works for different applications, it’s a homeowner’s dream come true!

Multifoil Insulation Pros

  • Simple to install since you can tape it in place
  • Has vapour control qualities
  • Doesn’t affect the structural integrity of your walls because it’s lightweight
  • Shines best in small areas where other insulation types could take up space

Multifoil Insulation Cons

  • Because it’s a metal-based product, it tends to be more expensive
  • Needs periodic cleaning to ensure it remains dust-free and maintains its efficiency

Multifoil Insulation Uses

  • Pitched roofing
  • Retrofit wall projects and new walls
  • Solid walls
  • Floors (especially timber floors)
  • Flat roofing

Multifoil Insulation Cost

Multi-layer foil insulation rolls and panels can range anywhere from £30 to over £300. 

The price depends on the materials used in the layers, the thickness, and the dimensions of the rolls or panels.

Option 6: Loose-fill Insulation

In this type of insulation, lightweight materials such as cellulose fibre, mineral wool, or cork create an insulating barrier. Experts recommend this insulation in hard-to-access areas, especially those tight corners in lofts.

Along with their high versatility, many loose-fill options are designed to keep away mould and pests. 

Plus, you may apply loose fill as a standalone insulation material or an additional layer to another insulation type.

Loose-fill Insulation Pros

  • Closes gaps and cavities
  • No manual labour
  • One of the most affordable insulation options on the market

Loose-fill Insulation Cons

  • Requires an installer with plenty of experience
  • Leaves quite a mess after installation
  • Not a good option for draughty lofts

Loose-fill Insulation Uses

  • Loft insulation
  • Wall cavities
  • Attics 
  • Any areas in your home that are fully or partially enclosed

Loose-fill Insulation Cost

If you choose this insulation type, you’re in for a treat because a square metre of loose fill will likely cost you £5–£15!

However, you’ll still need to factor in labour costs, which are a bit hard to predict since they differ from one part of the country to another. They also depend on how large the insulation project is.

Still, most contractors may charge you between £200 and £500 per day of work. Chances are your insulation project will only require less than a day of labour, so don’t worry about expenses piling up.

Option 7: Blown-fibre Insulation

A bit like loose-fill and spray foam, blown fibre is ideal for snug spaces in your loft or attic. 

Here, mineral fibres are simply blown onto the areas that you want to insulate. Then, those fibres create bonds between one another, giving you a foam-like appearance and an airtight seal.

One of the best qualities of blown fibre is that it’s eco-friendly. Containing materials like recycled paper or wool, it’s one step closer to a greener home.

Blown-fibre Insulation Pros

  • Increases the energy efficiency in your house by both limiting heat loss and containing recycled materials
  • Perfect for out-of-reach spaces
  • Some special equipment may be available for rent for those who want to tackle a DIY project

Blown-fibre Insulation Cons

  • An expensive insulation material
  • Best carried out by insulation contractors

Blown-fibre Insulation Uses

  • Uneven and irregular areas in walls or ceilings
  • Wall cavities
  • Attics
  • On roof joists, rafters, and in lofts

Blown-fibre Insulation Cost

Blown-fibre insulation cost is similar to the price point of spray foam. 

It usually ranges from £25 to £50 and requires an additional £500 to hire insulation professionals.

Option 8: Polystyrene Bead Insulation

Polystyrene beads or granules should be your go-to choice if you want a material similar to blown fibre at a budget-friendly price. 

These insulating granules reach inside cavities to block out drafts and help lock the heat inside the interior space. 

Still, while they’re suitable for limited budgets, they’re not exactly cost-effective. The reason is that they’re less efficient than other materials that are sprayed or blown onto gaps or crevices.

Polystyrene Bead Insulation Pros

  • An affordable alternative to spray foam and blown fibre
  • Found as a sticky resin or in loose form to fit various applications
  • Water-resistant, as it doesn’t hold on to moisture if it reaches the beads
  • Quick installation process (takes less than a day to set in)
  • Lightweight 

Polystyrene Bead Insulation Cons

  • May cause wall cracks with over-bonding
  • Some beads might escape from being packed too tight

Polystyrene Bead Insulation Uses

  • Cavity walls
  • Sometimes combined with loose-fill insulation

Polystyrene Bead Insulation Cost

As we’ve previously pointed out, polystyrene beads are fairly budget-friendly. 

Their price point reflects that, costing you around £20 to £30 per square metre!

Types of Insulation: Conclusion

Now that you have a firmer grasp of the types of insulation available, we hope you’re prepared to pick one. Still not certain which insulation to go for? Don’t worry!

Contact Insulation Advisor so that an insulation contractor can inspect your property and recommend the best insulation for your needs.

FAQs

How to choose the right insulation for my home?

To make sure your investment is well-placed, consider a few key factors when choosing the type of insulation. Some important points to mull over include:

  • U-value of the insulating material
  • Application and usage
  • Level of moisture or fire resistance
  • Space-saving qualities
  • Whether it’s DIY-friendly
  • Your budget restrictions

Can I DIY an insulation project?

You can DIY an insulation project that doesn’t require special equipment or expertise. 

Some insulation types you’ll find easy to install include rigid board, blanket insulation, and multifoil. 

Others, like spray foam and blown fibre, aren’t as straightforward, so you’d better leave them to the experts.

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