Types of insulation: A beginner’s guide

Types of insulation

As our Technical Processing Manager has previously explained, not all insulation boards are the same. However, we understand that all the different types can be confusing.

This post outlines some of the different types of rigid insulation, and highlights which might be the most suitable for your application.

Vacuum Insulation Panels

What are vacuum insulation panels? Vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) are next generation insulation, which provide a high level of thermal efficiency with minimal thickness.

How are vacuum insulation panels made? A microporous core is evacuated, encased and sealed in a thin gas-tight envelope. This removal of air eliminates almost all heat transfer.

What’s the thermal conductivity of vacuum insulation? Kingspan OPTIM-R has a design thermal conductivity of just 0.007 W/m.K.

Why choose vacuum insulation panels? VIPs provide the thinnest possible solution to insulation problems, while also providing an insulating performance that is up to five times better than commonly used insulation materials.

Where can I use vacuum insulation panels? VIPs can be used in a variety of new-build and refurbishment applications. They work particularly well in cases with space constraints such as flat roofs, balconies and terraces.

Phenolic Insulation

What is phenolic insulation? Phenolic insulation is a rigid insulation with a closed-cell structure.

How is phenolic insulation made? A wet foam mix is added directly to the bottom layer of facing. It then expands to meet the top layer. This is then cooked under pressure and cured in a second oven. When it’s ready, the phenolic insulation boards are cut to the right size and packaged up.

What’s the thermal conductivity of phenolic insulation? Our lower-lambda Kooltherm insulation achieves a lambda value of just 0.018 W/m.K across all thicknesses.

Why choose phenolic insulation? Phenolic insulation is the most thermally efficient insulation commonly used – helping you to meet building regulations – and has exceptional fire performance.

Where can I use phenolic insulation? It can be used in a variety of roof, wall and floor applications, which makes it a great solution for a range of constructions. Find out more in our Kooltherm Quick Guide.

PIR Insulation

What is PIR insulation? Polyisocyanurate (PIR) is a thermoset plastic produced as a foam. This is bonded to a facing to create an insulation board.

How is PIR insulation made? Like phenolic insulation, PIR is cooked under pressure in the factory and left to cool. It’s then cut to size and packaged up.

What’s the thermal conductivity of PIR insulation? The lambda value of our Therma range goes as low 0.022 W/m.K.

Why choose PIR insulation? As well as being cost-effective, PIR insulation is amongst the more thermally efficient insulation commonly used.

Where can I use PIR insulation? PIR insulation is often used on flat roof applications, due to its durability and compatibility with a variety of waterproofing methods. However it can also be used in a wide range of further applications. Find out more in our Therma Quick Guide.

XPS Insulation

What is XPS insulation? XPS (extruded polystyrene) is a rigid foam insulation made from polystyrene.

How is XPS insulation made? It is manufactured by liquefying polystyrene pellets then injecting a blowing agent under pressure. Once cooled, this creates a closed cell rigid foam.

What’s the thermal conductivity of XPS insulation? Our Styrozone range has lambda values of around 0.029 – 0.038 W/m.K.

Why choose XPS insulation? It is significantly denser than other types of insulation, which gives it a greater compressive strength. Its closed cell structure also resists both moisture and water vapour ingress.

Where can I use XPS insulation? Due to its compressive strength, XPS is regularly used in applications where it is going to be under some strain, such as car park decks. It’s also great for use in basements and inverted roofs due to its resistance to water absorption.

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Kingspan Insulation is a market leading manufacturer of optimum, premium and high performance rigid insulation products and insulated systems for building fabric and building services applications.

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