As we strive to build healthier buildings, one of the main chemicals we have tried to eliminate from construction products has been formaldehyde. Green builders have certainly expressed their concerns with it. They have advocated for using high performance products such as mineral wool, but its long standing inclusion of formaldehyde-based resins (used to bind the fibers together) kept them away.
While formaldehyde was believed to be a necessity in the past, it’s clearly on its way out. In fact, two manufacturers have now removed it completely.
IDI is pleased to announce that formaldehyde free mineral wool insulation is now available to our valued customers. Thermafiber from Owens Corning represents an innovative breakthrough for architects, contractors, and builders who have been looking for an insulation solution that meets green building and safety standards. Another large distribution partner, Roxul has also begun creating products in their lines that are formaldehyde-free alternatives. Click here to read Roxul’s announcement.
While some of these green alternatives still carry a very small amount of formaldehyde-based binders, they do meet the GreenGuard Gold certification standards — the same standards used in schools, health care facilities, and day care centers.Formaldehyde-free insulation solutions, like Thermafiber, mean safer environments for all.
Mineral Wool Insulation Batts vs. Fiberglass Batts
Historically, green building advocates have also shied away from mineral wool insulation due to a common case of mistaken identity. Like fiberglass, mineral wool comes in sections commonly referred to as batts, but that is where the similarity ends. The myth stems from the belief that all insulation batts are the same, which is not true. The term batts only refers to a convenient way to package insulation, not the type of material. While mineral wool insulation can vastly improve energy performance in homes across the U.S., it becomes harder with fiberglass batts. In fact, there is a grading system for fiberglass batts to determine if they will function properly. Fiberglass batts have low r-values and the material is more difficult to install correctly. On the other hand, the benefits of mineral wool insulation are significant — it is easy to handle and install, has better sound attenuation, and is more energy efficient.
Benefits of Mineral Wool Insulation
- Easy Installation Process: Mineral wool is firm and dense. It fits tightly into the stud space. Since fiberglass batts must be hung or stapled in place, they can leave insulation gaps. Mineral wool more resembles a block that, when placed into a wall cavity, fills the entire cavity, eliminating any gaps or sags. While mineral wool does sometimes need to be cut to accommodate unique stud spaces, it is a great solution.
- Water-Resistant: Mineral wool insulation is hydrophobic, which means it will not soak up and retain water. If water lands on the material, it will simply bead up and roll off the surface. Mineral wool actually promotes draining and drying. This water resistant quality helps keep your wall cavity dry rather than retain water like a sponge. In addition, this hydrophobic quality means that mineral wool insulation can be used as an alternative to exterior foam insulation. Because it is vapor permeable, you can insulate on the exterior of a building without trapping moisture in the walls.
- Promotes Fire Safety: Mineral wool can withstand extremely high temperatures, which means that it can lengthen the amount of time that a wood-framed house stays erect during a fire. This gives people in the home or structure more time to get out and provides firefighters with a substantial window in which to enter a burning building safely.
- Improves Energy Efficiency: Unlike fiberglass batts which come in R-11 or R-13 for 2×4 stud walls, mineral wool comes in R-15 for the same size walls. These high R-values help you maximize energy efficiency in your building.
Mineral wool insulation is a safe, easy to install, high performance building material that easily meets or exceeds the needs for the vast majority of American homebuilders. Learn more about the mineral wool products we offer by visiting our products section or attending an upcoming training event at an IDI branch near you.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of mineral wool insulation or formaldehyde-free insulation for your home, feel free to reach out to IDI Distributors at 1-888-843-1318.
By Ken Allison
Ken Allison works for IDI Distributors as a Business Development and Building Science Expert. Click here to watch Ken explain the benefits of Roxul Mineral Wool.