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Mineral wool or polystyrene



A house where thermal insulation processes have been carried out will enjoy a reduction in energy consumption and savings on utility bills.

The debate that boosts the spirits in the world of insulation is “what to choose, mineral wool or polystyrene?”. Before talking about the pros and cons of each material, let us introduce you the two.

Mineral wool, in the right corner of the ring. But first, we should explain what it is. There are two types of mineral wool, glass mineral wool and basalt mineral wool.

Perhaps the most used thermal insulation material in the world is glass mineral wool, a fiberglass fabric, which, with the aid of an organic binder, can keep the fibers bonded to each other. This material is elastic and flexible.

Glass mineral wool ensures both thermal insulation and acoustic insulation. How? Specialists point out that some kind of air chambers are formed between the fibers, which have the ability to prevent thermal and noise transmission. It is always used inside. Basalt mineral wool is a rigid product and it is generally used externally for the thermal insulation of the facade.

In the left corner enters the polystyrene, which can be expanded (EPS) or extruded (XPS). Polystyrene is a polymeric, slightly transparent, amorphous or partially crystalline and heat-treatable material.

Expanded polystyrene (abbreviated EPS) – can be purchased in white or graphite form. Most of the times, this material is used with confidence in the thermal insulation of facades or roofs, both indoors and outdoors. Expanded polystyrene is well tolerated by the skin and does not bring any repercussions to our health. Considering this, EPS is used for the thermal insulation of important institutions such as hospitals or kindergartens.

Extruded polystyrene (abbreviated XPS) has the ability to provide an effective thermal insulation from the basement to the roof, especially in areas where there are extreme mechanical loads, but also a high degree of humidity. It is used especially in the thermal insulation of the basement walls, in wet rooms, sockets, terraces, floors, etc.

It is time to present some comparisons between mineral wool and polystyrene.

Firstly, polystyrene is easily flammable, while mineral wool is flame retardant (this means it does not burn or fuels the fire). In addition, mineral wool enjoys an A1 classification of fire behavior, according to the European Classification.

On the other side, there are voices in the construction field saying that polystyrene doesn`t respect or doesn`t meet the standard set at European level, which is why its quality is under question.

In addition, although it is said that polystyrene can resist fairly well to flames, unfortunately, when it reaches a certain temperature, this material may ignite, and at the same time, its smoke is highly toxic for our health.

So, in order to be safe, mineral wool is the winner of this category.

The second criterion to consider is the wall. The polystyrene is losing ground again because it doesn`t allow the walls to “breathe”, so there is a higher risk of damp and mold.

The winner is again the mineral wool because this material will not allow any microorganism to develop.

Other criterion that need to be considered is condensation and moisture. Polystyrene is known to favor condensation because it is not permeable to vapors. Once the humidity “captures” the walls and keeps them wet, during the cold season they will freeze, so there won`t be a purpose for the insulation. This can happen to any kind of thermal insulation if it is not sufficiently dimensioned (the “dew point” is formed in the wall).

It is said that polystyrene is their paradise, and we are not talking about the paradise of the tenants, but about the paradise of the rats. These rodents creep into polystyrene, even through small cracks such as finger-sized cracks. Larger damage occurs when an interior insulation is used and you have to rid the house of mice.

However, although it is said to be more uncommon, mice can also appear in mineral wool insulation.

We move on to another criterion which is sound insulation. Although polystyrene and mineral wool are both thermo-insulating materials, as I said at first, mineral wool by its composition provides better sound insulation.

But polystyrene also has its advantages. We can consider polystyrene to overcome mineral wool in price, since insulation made with mineral wool is twice higher in terms of price.

The polystyrene manages to score another time by the end of the match. Although specialists are in favor of mineral wool material, saying it is not toxic, there have been cases where different people have suffered allergies from this substance.

We tried to stay neutral and let the arguments speak for themselves in mineral wool versus polystyrene debate. Generally, it is advisable to take into account the designer’s advice, because depending on the house plan, interior and exterior finishing, he will recommend what’s best for you.

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