Insulation: Evolution of a classic product

Insulation manufacturers are changing the landscape by offering new products that meet demand for ease-of-use and high energy efficiency. Residential Design + Build magazine spoke with four manufacturers about their product offerings and where trends are headed. Continue reading as they share their thoughts.


CertainTeed Corp.

Industry: “In general, the insulation industry is moving toward products that can increase energy efficiency and enhance a home’s resulting indoor air quality, while improving installation and reducing environmental impact. Fiberglass is one of the better choices in that effort, given that fiberglass is proven, affordable, lasts the life of a structure and saves much more energy than is required to produce it,” says Rob Brockman, senior marketing manager, CertainTeed Insulation.

Product offering: “CertainTeed offers a robust lineup of fiberglass insulation products to meet the needs of various applications of sustainable insulation: Basement Wall blankets; Building Insulation batts and rolls; DryRight with MemBrain smart vapor retarder technology; EasyTouch Encapsulated batts and rolls; High Performance batts; Masonry Wall; and NoiseReducer sound attenuation batts,” Brockman says. “[CertainTeed also offers] loose-fill solutions from the innovator of Premium Fiberglass blowing insulation: Optima blow-in insulation system; InsulSafe SP Premium Blowing Wool; SpeedyR Tabless batts; TrueComfort blow-in insulation; and UltraComfort blowing insulation.”

Where it is going: “It’s not only about certified green product claims and specific attributes. Those features will keep products in the running but it is going to be critical to architects, builders and homeowners that the organization manufacturing green products is taking the larger picture into account and walking the talk,” Brockman says. “Insulation needs to do more than just provide thermal and acoustical performance in the wall cavities of homes. The building and design community can help build an environment of change by using products that promote sustainability beyond the regular attributes.”


Johns Manville

Industry: “The biggest changes in fiberglass insulation products for residential new construction have been years in the making. There have been dramatic shifts in the following areas such as binder technology and the combination of foam and fiberglass,” says Stephen Crouch, residential market manager for insulation systems, Johns Manville. “Several years ago, the world of building insulation was black and white; builders either installed spray foam or fiberglass. Today, the lines are blurred and we are seeing more builders adopt foam and fiber glass systems,” Crouch says. “Builders now recognize foam as a critical element of the insulation package, especially when air sealing is required or when condensation is a concern. “Builders recognize the value of foam/fiberglass hybrid systems; hybrid systems deliver the air-sealing performance of foam and thermal performance of fiberglass at a lower cost than other systems. Builders install either fiberglass batts or loose-fill fiberglass over spray foam to completely fill the cavity with insulation,” Crouch says.

Product offering: “Johns Manville offers a full line of formaldehyde-free fiberglass building insulation products for both residential and commercial new construction. Some of our key differentiators in the industry are: JM ComfortTherm Encapsulated batt insulation, JM Spider custom insulation system with adhesive, Indoor Advantage Gold Plus Formaldehyde Free certification and MR Faced mold resistant batt insulation,” Crouch says.

Where it is going: “We are seeing an increase in the use of foam sheathing on the outside of homes, rather than inside the cavities. By moving the insulation to the outside of the wall, builders can increase the overall insulation value since they can now insulate the entire wall, instead of just the space between the studs,” Crouch says. “Also, by building an external foam shell around the house, builders address most of the air-sealing needs for the home and eliminate the potential for condensation on the inside of the wall. These moves make it possible for builders to use fiberglass batts and loose-fill fiberglass to fill the internal cavities of the walls and still achieve their air-sealing and moisture management objectives.”


Owens Corning

Industry: “Remodeling is the big story in the home building industry. New home construction has slowed and thus the demand for building materials is at historically low levels for this segment of the market construction. Because homeowners are trying to make the most of what they already have, more effort is being made to repair and upgrade existing residential buildings,” says Clarke Berdan, Owens Corning research associate.

Product offering: “Owens Corning provides a full line of glass fiber insulation products for residential construction. Glass fiber batts and loose fill for cavity and attic insulation are our best known products for insulating the envelope of the home,” Berdan says. “We also produce board, liner and wrap products for home air-handling duct needs. Also in the air-handling area, we provide the flexible duct media that is used in most of the industry’s flexible ducts. These air-handling products ensure the conditioned air reaches various rooms in the home close to the initial supply temperature. Finally, focused on noise control, we offer our QuietZone acoustical insulation batts for insulating between rooms and between floors to take the edge off of noises in the home that can become points of high irritation and anxiety if left unabated.”

Where it is going: “Indoor environmental quality and energy savings are the two big themes for residential construction. Energy savings is the most obvious value for glass fiber insulation and the trend is to leverage this cost-effective solution for high performance, low energy demand building envelope components,” Berdan says. “The various parts of the building envelope are now being looked at as building systems that combine the performance of glass fiber insulation with moisture and air infiltration control strategies. In regard to IEQ, the recognition would make it more clear that glass fiber insulation can provide greater comfort from a more uniform interior surface temperature, and the added benefit of interior noise control, are driving the increase in the amount of glass fiber insulation being proposed for the homes of tomorrow.”


Knauf Insulation

Industry: “Today’s glass wool products are kinder to work with and gentler on the environment. Fiberglass insulation is more recognized as a sustainable product and key component of energy-efficient homes. R-values available with fiberglass are higher than ever,” says Joe Hudock, residential sector leader, North America, Knauf Insulation.

Product offering: “We offer a full line of formaldehyde-free batt and blow-in products: EcoBatt Glasswool, features an average of 45 percent post-consumer recycled content and Ecose technology, a bio-based binder free of phenol, formaldehyde, acrylics or artificial colors; BIBs; Jet Stream Ultra; and EcoFill Wx Glasswool,” Hudock says. “Our insulation solutions serve all applications from new homes to sidewall retrofits. Knauf Insulation’s full line of products, including new EcoSeal Water-based Elastomeric Sealant, work in conjunction with our insulation to create ultra-efficient homes.”

Where it is going: “Because of the highest R-value at low cost, fiberglass will continue to be strong in green building, especially with consumers’ increasing awareness. From energy cost savings to indoor air quality and room comfort, homeowners are more knowledgeable about home quality,” Hudock says. “You can see the big picture widening with topics like home energy audits and blower door tests in more insulation conversations. Where many trade professionals turn to proper sealing and fiberglass insulation as the lowest-cost, best-performing option, that understanding is also reaching consumers.”