Types of Insulation

There are a selection of insulation materials available in Australia that are used to insulate a building. All of these are based on standard principles of thermal insulation.

Materials used to reduce heat transfer by conduction, radiation or convection are employed in varying combinations to achieve the desired outcome (usually thermal comfort with low energy consumption).



Insulation is used to slow the heat flow both in and out of your home



Choice of insulative material

The choice and degree of insulation is based on a number of factors:


  • Prevailing climate.
  • Ease of installation e.g. some materials cannot be retrofitted due to issues of accessibility or toxicity
  • Durability - resistance to compression, moisture, degradation
  • Cost - which is generally related to durability and effectiveness
  • The mode of heat transfer - bulk insulators are most useful in coldconditions where significant convective / conductive losses occur, theyare less useful in hot conditions where solar radiation is the sourceof heat gain.
  • The orientation of the surface and direction of heat flow determine how effective a radiant barrier will be--radiant barriers work best at stopping downward heat transfer from or to horizontal surfaces.
  • Toxic effects / off-gassing
  • Environmental impact and sustainability

Usually a combination of materials are required to achieve an optimum solution for a building over a range of climactic conditions.There are also some products which combine different types of insulation in one product.


Materials used for insulation

A range of material can be employed in the manufacture and construction of insulation products:



Other unusual materials (or of historic interest now lesser used)


  • Natural plant materials - corn cobs, strawdust, wood chips, sawdust, redwood bark, hemlock fiber, or balsa wood.



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