Which Materials Are Good Thermal Insulators?

When insulating a home, fiberglass, polystyrene or cellulose are a few insulators that may be used. One material may appeal to you more than another depending on your personal desires.

According to Thermaxx Jackets LLC, fiberglass is the most commonly used insulator in modern homes. Fiberglass insulation is cheap and non-flammable, but requires the use of gloves, masks and eye protection to reduce the risk of damage to the lungs, skin and eyes during installation.

If being environmentally friendly is a concern, cellulose is a great alternative to fiberglass insulation. Made of recycled paper, cardboard and paper products, cellulose is a surprisingly fire-resistant form of insulation due to the extremely small amount of oxygen within its structure.

Polystyrene is also a great insulation product that insulates sounds as well as temperature. While this waterproof, thermoplastic foam insulation may provide better insulation, it is more costly and it is not fire-resistant. Polystyrene must be coated with the fireproofing chemical HBCD (Hexabromocyclododecane). HBCD is known for environmental and health risks associated with its use.

Another thermal insulator is Pyrogel XT. It is one of the most efficient insulators in the world, according to Thermaxx. Pyrogel is 50 to 80 percent thinner than other insulators and is capable of withstanding temperatures around 2000 degrees with little or no heat transfer. Although it may be a little more expensive, professionals are using it more often than other options.