The Pros and Cons of Popular Insulation Types

Although it is hidden within the walls, insulation is one of the most important choices you will make when building your own home and there are lots of options to choose from. Here are the pros and cons of common insulation types and reasons why polyurethane foam is preferred by Lamelli.

March 5, 2019

Choosing the right insulation for your home is critical for energy savings and thermal comfort, though airtightness, heat bridges, passive solar design and glazing are also important. Extreme home performance has been rapidly adopted throughout North America, allowing homeowners to cut energy consumption by nearly 90 % when compared with conventional construction.

Although home builders agree that insulation plays a crucial role in reducing energy consumption, the type of insulation chosen varies greatly. Here are some pros and cons of different types of home insulation:

Cellulose fibre

PROS: Cellulose fibre (usually recycled newsprint), is gaining popularity. Spray applied cellulose fibre is quite dense and provides a good barrier against air infiltration from the outside. Due to the spray-in nature of the installation, performance is less likely to suffer from installation errors.

CONS: Dry-blown cellulose does sag as it settles, reducing its R-value over time. It also absorbs moisture easily, reducing its long-term efficiency. In some cases, this can even lead to mold and rot. Both dry- and wet-blown cellulose need a vapor barrier. ‍


PROS: Cork is a 100% natural insulation material that is carbon and highly efficient. Not only is it a rapidly renewable material, it is highly resilient, a great sound dampener, water resistant and a natural flame retarder.

CONS: When compared to other insulation materials, the price of cork is expensive and there are other eco-friendly options that are also pocket friendly.

Mineral Wool

PROS: Mineral wool is a popular choice due to it’s useful material properties and the fact that it is inexpensive and easy to handle. It is not flammable, has good thermal conductivity, is immune to moulds and very ecological.

CONS: Mineral wool causes irritation when touched or inhaled, making it tedious to install. While it has many promising properties, it has low heat storage capacity and makes homes heat up faster in the summer than other insulation types.

Polyurethane Foam

PROS: Polyurethane foam creates an airtight seal that virtually eliminates air leakage, drafts and heat loss. It is very effective and greatly reduces seasonal energy bills due to it’s high R-value. Polyurethane foam is ideal for attics, roofs, walls and floors. When sprayed on, it fills even small cavities and makes the installation process fast and simple. With closed cell polyurethane foam moisture accumulation is reduced and there is no need to install a vapour barrier. Our favourite feature of polyurethane foam is it’s longevity and ability to provide extreme performance indefinitely with proper home care. It does not lose it’s R-value over time and can even enhance the strength of any walls or roof it is applied to.

CONS: Most of the problems with polyurethane foam are related to its installation. It can be more expensive to install than some other types of insulation and installers sometimes miss areas. In extreme climates, polyurethane foam can shrink over time, though this is easily fixed by simply spraying more foam. Open cell polyurethane foam is less durable and water resistant.

Although Lamelli’s prefabricated building materials and technologies can be combined with any installation type, our preferred form of insulation is polyurethane foam. It’s performance and longevity make it stand out. In order to eliminate the variability of spray foam insulation, we use rigid closed cell polyurethane foam for easy installation without the need to hire a spray foam installer. Contact us today to learn more about how Lamelli’s hyper insulated panels can add value to your home.

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