Insulation is one of the most important components to a home’s energy performance, thermal comfort for the residents, energy security, and minimizing wastage of our valuable energy resources.

There’s a wide range of insulation products available and they primarily fall into three different categories:

1.Reflective insulation reflects heat back to where it came from, and if double sided does not re-radiate heat on the opposite side.  It must work in conjunction with a still air layer between the insulation and the surface.

2.Bulk insulation uses air pockets within a thick material to slow the flow of heat

3.Composite insulation combines bulk insulation with a reflective surface.

With so much choice available it can become quite confusing to determine which insulation is best for your home. But, it doesn’t have to be confusing. 
Read this guide and be better informed and confident in making your decision.

Reflective Insulation 

Such as:


Pleated foil batts

Flexible reflective rolls

Bulk Insulation 

Such as:

Spray foam

Fibreglass – glasswool

Rockwool – mineral wool

Sheep’s wool



Composite Insulation

Such as:

Foil faced styrene boards (reflective foil boards; foilboard)

Thick high density extruder polyester boards

Polystyrene batts/boards

Reflective Insulation 

Sarking insulation (sometimes known as house’s radiant or reflective barrier, sarking, foil rolls, reflective insulation) uses foil backed by paper or plastic on one or both sides or just one side.  It’s primary purpose is to bounce back heat produced by radiation. It requires a layer of air next to the shiny side and must be kept clean to work effectively. R-values vary based on installation, climate, and location.

dreamstime m 13708740 EcoMaster

Concertina Foil Batts uses similar materials as reflective insulation but with a thicker paper or board between the foil layers and then machine pleated.  They are ideal for use in cavity, raked and cathedral ceilings. They can be stapled between joists, placed on top of ceilings or over existing insulation. They prevent dust and heat build-up in the ceiling cavity and can reflect heat away from the roof cavity, making them perfect for small spaces.

Bulk Insulation

Spray polyurethane foam insulation is created by combining two liquids, referred to as the “A” and “B” sides, causing a chemical reaction. The “A” side is typically made up of MDI and pMDI, while the “B” side is a blend of various chemicals. Each manufacturer uses their own proprietary blend, making it important to check with contractors about the products being used. The cost of spray foam insulation varies between manufacturers and contractors. Icynene-Lapolla spray foam insulation is environmentally safe and Class One Fire Rated, and uses water-blown and organic chemical compounds derived from petroleum extracts.

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Fibreglass insulation, also known as glass wool or glass fibre insulation, and is often referred to in Australia by various brand names such as Pink Batts and Gold Batts.  It is created using recycled glass bottles, sand, and other materials, melted at high temperature and then spun into fibres.  They are highly favoured by project home builders in Australia because of their low cost.  

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Rockwool – mineral wool

Rock wool, also known as mineral wool, is an insulation material derived from rocks like basalt or slag castoffs from iron ore processing. To make rock wool, the material is first melted and then spun at high speeds through a thin mesh, much like the technique used to create fairy floss. The process produces strands that are then treated with a binding agent and oil to minimize dust and hold the insulation together. Rock wool is typically cut into long strips and sold in rolls or batts to fit various insulation requirements.

Sheeps wool insulation , is made from mechanically held together sheep wool fibers with recycled polyester adhesive or entangled in high R-Value knops. It is effective for both thermal and acoustic insulation and commonly used in walls and ceilings of timber-frame buildings, lofts, and log homes. It can be installed as batts, rolls, ropes or blow-in-blanket system using a fiber mesh. It is a natural, sustainable, recyclable. Wool insulation does not pose any threat to the environment or human health and requires no protection during installation.

dreamstime s 21502611 EcoMaster
dreamstime s 132339705 EcoMaster

Earthwool is essentially a brand glasswool that is produced using a very similar manufacturing process as fibre glass. The technique involves mixing millions of tiny glass splinters with a resin binding agent to create a blanket.  It is made from recycled glass bottles and bonded using bio-based ECOSE technology,  eliminating many of the additional chemicals typically found in glasswool.  It is a softer, naturally brown material that is free of odour. With a lower embodied energy it is considered to have less of an impact on the environment, but it is not made in Australia. All Earthwool is imported from overseas.

Polyester insulation, depending on the manufacturer will be made from 100% polyester of which either 45% or up to 80% of that is recyclable materials.  It is made of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) sourced from plastic bottles, plastic bags and other types of packaging.  It is produced through a chemical reaction using a mix of recycled plastic, air and water and typically bound with low melt polyester fibres, making it very safe to handle and install in any home.   The fibres within do not become brittle and will not breakdown into small particles.  Many household products are made from this product such as clothes, pillows, mattresses, furniture and so on.  Polyester insulation is 100% recyclable, cost effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable.  

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There is much concern over the creation of waste in our society. So a product that actually converts a waste product into a highly useful solution is an added bonus. Recycled milk bottles / PET bottles are the raw materials that make polyester insulation.

Composite Insulation

Foilfaced styrene boards, (reflective foil boards) this insulation material is composed of a durable Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) core that is fire resistant. EPS is a firm type of thermoplastic foam material that is made from solid polystyrene beads. These beads are polymerised from styrene monomer and contain pentane, an expansion gas, that is dissolved within them with a closed-cell structure.  It is  enclosed in two layers of highly reflective aluminum foil.  Good for small spaces. 

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Thick high density polyester boards.  There are different types for different functions.  

GPS is Graphite Polystyrene. 

XPS is Expanded Polystyrene which is a closed cell product in standard square or rectangular dimensions. XPS is made by combining polystyrene crystals with additives and a gas blowing agent. 

EPS also Expanded Polystyrene but it can be molded and cut into different shapes from flat boards. EPS begins as tiny polystyrene beads that are expanded with steam and pentane, and can be white or have additives like colorings or pest deterrents. EPS insulation is made of 98% trapped air and 2% plastic. It can be contoured shapes.. 

GPS insulation is made from Neopor beads and has a higher r-value than traditional EPS insulation.

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dreamstime s 107230052 EcoMaster

Polystyrene Batts (Boards) is a synthetic resin that is commonly used in home insulation rigid foam insulation. It is known for its safety and effectiveness in insulating against energy and sound. Its unique cellular structure gives it properties such as very low density and incredible strength to weight ratio, making it perfect for lightweight applications that require insulation. Polystyrene insulation is manufactured through an extrusion process involving heating and melting powdered polystyrene and forming it into solid foam, then cut into insulation batts. 

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dreamstime s 149002474 EcoMaster

Foilboard® is an insulation panel that can be fitted into existing cavities to help regulate the temperature of the building. Its reflective surface is created by applying pure aluminum to both sides of an FR-EPS Core (Expanded Polystyrene Fire Retardant Grade), while one side is treated with a special ink to produce an anti-glare finish that doesn’t impede the insulating properties of Foilboard®. The product is completely free of VOCs and CFCs, and is entirely recyclable. Foilboard®  is sustainable and durable and provides a thermal break that offers long term rewards. 

What’s Next?

We hope this article has helped you learn the difference between the many kind of glazing. This will help you on your energy and thermal efficiency retrofit journey to make your home more comfortable all year round, and reduce your costs and carbon emissions.   

Next, explore some easy ways to Make your Homes Draught Barrier Impenetrable.

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