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Building insulation comes in a wide range of styles and materials, but this post lists the most common types so that building owners can get a better sense of what the options are and what different types of insulation are used for.

Blanket insulation comes in batts and rolls that are easily installed. It is made in a variety of materials such as fiberglass, mineral wool, and plastic or natural fiber. Blanket insulation is primarily used in floors, ceilings, and unfinished walls where the "blankets" can be rolled out and fitted between joists, beams, and studs. This type of insulation is favored by those who want an easy DIY project, but users should be careful to wear protective clothing since fiberglass variants can be itchy and unhealthy to inhale. Users should also make sure that the material is cut to fit around obstructions like pipes; crudely stuffed insulation has lower R-values than properly fitted insulation.

Concrete Block insulation is used when concrete foundations and walls require variable insulation values. Instead of filling each block with insulation, it is preferable to place insulation called insulating concrete forms, or ICFs, on the outside of concrete blocks. This is usually done while a building is being built, if at all. As a rule, autoclaved concrete blocks have 10 times higher R-values than ordinary concrete, which is worth considering on additions and new builds.

Foam boards are a type of insulation that comes in rigid panels, and these boards can be used to insulate just about any part of a building. They are usually made of polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane. These materials provide rigidity to the boards while also reducing heat conduction through adjacent structural components such as studs. Those who want to use foam board insulation should be aware that for indoor uses, boards should be covered by a 1/2 inch of gypsum in order to increase fire safety.

Loose fill or blown-in insulation is made of cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral wool, and it's a popular option for insulating spaces that are already enclosed, such as open wall cavities. These insulation types are blown in using machinery that functions much like a reverse vacuum, and loose fill can be a boon for owners looking to work with unfinished walls and irregularly shaped spaces or those with many obstructions.

Another type of insulation that meets many of the same needs as loose fill is spray foam insulation, which is composed of two sprayed liquid components that chemically react upon application to a surface or cavity to create a solid foam layer.

Reflective insulation systems are used primarily to prevent the downward movement of heat. They are installed in areas where there is at least 1 inch of space between the foil-backed reflective sheet and the nearest surface. The material reflects heat into the air around it, enabling that air to heat up and flow upward and away. This type of insulation is used mostly in attics where radiant heat barriers can prevent downward heat flow.

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