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The family of mineral insulators

Mineral insulation is undoubtedly the most used in the building today. Sold in various forms, they are used in DIY to initiate or reinforce the thermal and / or sound insulation of a room or an element of the house. Six in number, all from abundant raw materials, these insulators form a family in their own right with their specificities and constraints. To better apprehend them and find out what is going on, we will look at their nature as well as their level of effectiveness.


Origin and manufacture of mineral insulators:

All mineral insulators have at least two things in common. They are of natural origin and have been subjected to a manufacturing process that involves a heating time with high temperature rises. Glass wool comes from silica, basalt rock wool, perlite from siliceous volcanic rock, magnesia silicate vermiculite and sand or cullet glass (recycled glass). All these resources have the advantage of being relatively abundant. Although vermiculite is an ore that is not present on European soil, it must be imported from other countries (China, Africa, Australia, Brazil, United States, etc.).

The common points between these different insulators are therefore numerous.

Setting up of glass wool in the attic

They are all rotproof for example, all have very good fire resistance and good stability over time. The two that are most similar are of course only glass wool and rockwool, both in their manufacturing processes and in their appearances. Both are also known to be irritating to the skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract because of their volatile fibers. It is therefore important to protect yourself during their implementation with gloves, long sleeves, glasses and a mask covering the nose and mouth. The wearing of glasses and the mask will also be necessary for the vermiculite which releases dust during its handling.

On the other hand, if we consider the gray energy consumed, the mineral wools show the best results while the expanded clay is the most greedy. But cell glass is undoubtedly the one that consumes the most with 1,600 kWh / m3 against 300 for expanded clay and between 150 and 250 for mineral wool. But in general, once produced, they are all inert materials, non-polluting for health and the environment (with the possible exception of additions or glues that can enter their compositions).

The performance of mineral insulators:

It is important to note that at the thermal performance level, not all mineral insulators are equal. Mineral wools (glass

Rockwool panel

and rock) arrive at the top of the ranking with good thermal and acoustic performance as well as a good quality / price ratio. Then comes cellular glass, with also good results in both types of insulation.

On the other hand, perlite and vermiculite show a more moderate thermal insulation. As for the expanded clay, its level of heat insulation is rather low while its sound insulation, it remains very correct. The greatest strength of expanded clay is essentially optimal compressive strength, which can be useful in some arrangements and implementations.

The criterion of the compressive strength is also an important element, because an insulating material that withstands the mechanical stresses of a large compression can be used for all insulation under a screed, slab or roof terrace. In addition to expanded clay, cellular glass and rockwool provide good levels of strength and compressive strength.

Conditioning and uses of mineral insulation:

Mineral insulators are available on the market under a large

Rolls of glass wool

number of forms: loose, flaked, rolled or paneled. The choice of packaging will be both a function of the chosen material and what you want to use it for. For loose roofs for example, bulk insulation is a good solution whether with mineral wool, perlite or vermiculite.

In general, rock wool, glass wool and cellular glass (mainly in the form of panels) are suitable for almost all types of insulation: façade, sloping roofs, walls, partitions, bulkheads and soils. For glass wool, which is very permeable to water vapor, it is recommended to use panels with vapor barrier for insulation from the inside.

It is also possible to incorporate some of these mineral insulators to other preparations for the frame. Perlite, for lightened mortars or with lime, vermiculite and expanded clay for lightened concretes. In order to increase their thermal performance and to lighten the structure.


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