Construction Essentials – Thermal Insulation

When asked what the purpose of insulation is, the chances are that the majority of us would answer ‘heat loss reduction’ or ‘used to keep heat in’ or something similar and rightly so. However, the word insulation is a broad term covering all different types of  insulation used for very different purposes including fireproofing, soundproofing, impact cushioning and electrical insulation. Thermal insulation is without a doubt the most popular and widely used in buildings throughout the world to help the
interior achieve what’s known as Thermal Comfort by preventing the excessive loss of heat and to also prevent the gain of heat if the exterior is warmer than the interior. Thermal Comfort is when an individual like you or I, are comfortable with the interior environment of a building, meaning that we are not too hot and not too cold, it’s when we feel just right. This is not just dependent on thermal insulation, the state of mind that is Thermal Comfort also depends on other factors, mainly heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC for short. An abbreviation used by engineers to ensure the comfort of individuals inside a building.

Thermal insulation plays a big part in this however; there are many types of thermal insulation made from a range of different materials that come in all shapes and sizes. These include Glass Wool (one of the most commonly used) Polystyrene, perlite, plant fibre, wood fibre, animal fibre and even simple materials like soil and concrete. These materials are designed specifically as thermal insulators and are not designed for the purpose of reducing sound pressure, however each of the materials will have some effect on sound due to the dead space being filled with an absorptive material. The use of plant fibre, wood fibre, perlite and other loose insulators are perfect for situations where the empty wall cavity cannot be fully accessed to allow installation of squares of glass fibre for example. Once a small point of accessed is found or created leading into the wall cavity, the loose insulation can then be blown in using specialised equipment. However, a high point of entry towards the top of the wall is recommended allowing the wall to ‘fill up without coming straight out of the hole you’re using – common sense plays a big part here. Once the wall has been filled, the access point can be closed and sealed. In cases where a building doesn’t have a wall cavity, exterior insulation can be used, giving the same effect without disturbing the interior of the building. Cladding or render are the two different types of exterior thermal insulation. Cladding comes in the form of timber panels or shingles, clay or stone tiles and panels made from aluminium. There is also a brick finish available should you not want to lose the traditional appearance of your red brick building. Render can be a little less expensive than cladding, however it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing substance to look at when it’s dried but that’s nothing a few coats of colourful paint can’t handle. It resembles interior plastering, as a cement like substance is smoothed over a wire or fibre mesh attached to the buildings exterior. Once dry it may make the building look like a smooth concrete structure, so it’s definitely recommended that you have a nice light coloured paint to apply as soon as it’s dry.

No matter what your thermal insulation needs are, it’s always recommended to get the advice of an energy saving professional when deciding what type would be best for your project.


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