Here we will look at three different types of insulation: fibreglass, foil, and wool.
Fibreglass and wool insulation are usually associated with bigger insulation jobs, and are common to find in the lofts of houses. They’re both thick insulators, although fibreglass has fallen from favour in recent years due to health concerns.
Foil insulation works in a different way, and is often used for more temporary/fast insulation. It’s easy to put up, and can be suitable for a range of situations. However, people do still use thicker foil insulation to insulate lofts as well, and it can deliver good results.
Below are the pros and cons of each type, specifically aimed towards finding the best shed insulation.
Fibreglass insulation consists of ‘wool’ made from glass fibres. Its main function, in terms of insulation, is to block convective and conductive heat.
This means it blocks cold air from physically entering the space, through cracks in the walls, and also does not conduct the warm temperature of the inside space to the exterior of the building. Fibreglass is not a good conductor so it stops heat transferring.
- Fibreglass is cheap to buy.
- It’s easy to install – coming in rolls.
- Great blocker of convective and conductive heat.
- Aesthetically messier than foil insulation – needs to be concealed.
- Inhalation of fibreglass particles is believed to be hazardous to health – you need to wear sufficient protective clothing when installing it, and ensure that it is well concealed.
- Needs to be well protected from moisture or else it can grow mould.
Wool insulation has become popular in recent years, offering an alternative to fibreglass. It has a very high R-value, which is how a material’s thermal resistance is measured, and works like fibreglass to block convective and conductive heat.
- Considered a safe material and can be handled without protective clothing.
- Offers a good level of noise reduction because of how well it absorbs sound.
- High nitrogen content means natural sheep’s wool is considered fire resistant – it does not burst into flame, instead burning gradually.
- The price of using sheep’s wool as an insulator is its biggest negative. Natural sheep’s wool is expensive, and you’d need a lot of it.
- It’s not very practical to use on smaller projects because it is quite bulky.
- Some companies will use chemicals to treat the wool against moths and insects, which can compromise the benefits of using a natural fibre. It’s possible to find companies who treat the wool in a chemical free way, but this may increase costs further.
Foil insulation reflects radiant heat. This means that it will reflect heat back into the building, instead of allowing it to escape, and will also deflect heat from the sun in summer.
It also works, to a certain extent, to physically block gaps in the shell of the outbuilding and stop drafts.
- Extremely easy to install – only a staple gun is required!
- Prevents loss of radiant heat.
- Durable and strong – staples can be removed and insulation sheets easily repurposed.
- Non hazardous.
- More expensive than fibreglass.
- Not as effective against heat loss from convection.
- Other insulation may be required to improve make effective against all types of heat loss.
Whilst all of these materials have good insulating properties, foil insulation is perhaps the best shed insulation. It’s relatively thin, so doesn’t encroach on the space in a small outbuilding, and it doesn’t need to be concealed for safety reasons like fibreglass. Also, it’s a lot cheaper and easier to put up than both fibreglass and wool insulation.