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The Best Type of External Wall Insulation

Insulating one’s home is not just about keeping warm in winter; it’s about creating a comfortable environment throughout the year, and perhaps even more significantly, it’s about energy efficiency and reducing one’s carbon footprint. With the myriad of options available in the market, the decision-making process can become overwhelming. In this blog, we will delve into some of the most popular types of external wall insulation to help you make an informed choice.

Mineral Wool

Originating from natural minerals such as basalt or diabase, mineral wool is a stalwart in the insulation sector, often going by the name of rock wool or slag wool. This type of insulation boasts a few standout qualities that make it a popular choice amongst homeowners and construction professionals alike. One of its prime attributes is its exceptional fire resistance, ensuring an added layer of safety to structures. Moreover, if you’re someone who values tranquillity, mineral wool’s soundproofing qualities are sure to appeal; it adeptly muffles external noises, creating a serene indoor environment.

However, like all materials, mineral wool is not without its challenges. Those handling it might find it slightly irksome due to its itchy nature, necessitating the use of protective gear during its installation. Additionally, while it’s generally robust against many external factors, if not installed with precision, there’s a risk of it retaining moisture, which could compromise its insulation properties over time.

Phenolic foam

Phenolic foam, a type of rigid board insulation, stands out as a premium choice for external wall applications. Born from the amalgamation of phenol and formaldehyde, this insulation material prides itself on delivering superior thermal performance. This means that homes insulated with phenolic foam often benefit from consistent indoor temperatures, irrespective of external climatic fluctuations. Another noteworthy trait is its low smoke emission during fires, adding an extra layer of safety.

But, as with most things, there’s a flip side. In terms of cost, phenolic foam tends to sit on the pricier side of the insulation spectrum when compared to its counterparts. Moreover, while it’s generally durable, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can degrade its quality, making it imperative to ensure proper shielding during installation.


Delving into the realm of lightweight insulation materials, Expanded Polystyrene, or EPS as it’s commonly known, emerges as a front-runner. Manufactured from solid beads of polystyrene, this foam insulation is a testament to the advancements in modern construction techniques. Its featherlight nature combined with its rigidity makes it a dream to handle, especially for those in the construction sector. Economically speaking, EPS wins hearts with its cost-effective nature, allowing homeowners to insulate their abodes without burning a hole in their pockets.

However, every silver lining has a cloud. When pitted against some other insulation materials, EPS falls slightly short in terms of its R-value, which is a measure of its thermal resistance. This might necessitate thicker layers for the same insulating effect. Additionally, while it’s resistant to moisture, its flammability can be a concern. Thankfully, modern EPS often comes treated with fire retardants to mitigate this risk.

Wood fibre

Venturing into the domain of sustainable insulation materials, wood fibre emerges as a compelling choice for the eco-conscious. Derived predominantly from wood, cellulose, or various plant fibres, wood fibre insulation finds its roots in a blend of traditional practices and modern technology. Often championed in green building projects, it is a testament to the industry’s shift towards sustainable and renewable resources. Its composition ensures not only thermal insulation but also acoustic benefits, making it an ideal candidate for those yearning for a peaceful indoor sanctuary.

Yet, it’s important to tread with a touch of caution. While wood fibre is undeniably environmentally friendly, it can sometimes become a magnet for pests if not treated adequately. Its organic nature also means that it doesn’t quite match the fire-resistant capabilities of materials like mineral wool. However, advancements in production techniques are constantly improving these aspects, making wood fibre increasingly resilient.

In the grand scheme of things, wood fibre insulation is a nod to a future where sustainability is at the forefront. While it does come with its set of challenges, its environmental benefits and its ability to regulate indoor humidity make it a worthy contender in the external wall insulation arena.

Sheep’s wool

Treading the path of nature’s marvels, sheep’s wool emerges as a distinctive choice in the insulation landscape. This natural insulator, which has warmed the backs of sheep for millennia, has been skilfully repurposed to keep our homes snug and comfortable. Its fibrous structure allows for excellent air retention, making it a superb thermal barrier. Beyond its insulating prowess, sheep’s wool has a unique ability to regulate moisture, ensuring that homes remain dry and devoid of dampness. Furthermore, its natural composition allows it to filter out harmful airborne substances, enhancing the quality of indoor air.

However, nature’s gifts often come with nuances. The premium nature of sheep’s wool means it tends to be pricier than its synthetic counterparts. Also, being an organic material, it demands a bit more care during installation to preserve its integrity. There’s also the need for special treatments to deter pests and enhance fire resistance.

Drawing it all together, sheep’s wool stands as a luxurious and sustainable insulation option. While it might command a higher price tag, the myriad of benefits it offers, from moisture regulation to air purification, make it a splendid investment for those who value natural solutions and long-term gains.

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