Insulation – Do you know all the differences to choose the best?

Approx read time: 3 minutes

Picking the right insulation

Whether it’s for a new home or a renovation, it is important to understand the differences and your options available when it comes to insulation for any construction, whether it be roofs, ceilings, walls or floors.

The main use for insulation is to act as a barrier between the home and the elements. But there are also a number of other factors to take into consideration so that you choose the right product for the application.

Some of these may be:

  • Does the home need to comply with BAL requirements in a bushfire zone?
  • Are you dealing with a client that would like to upgrade the energy efficiency of their home?
  • Is one of your client’s main priorities having a build with asthma and allergies in mind?
  • Does your client was to control the noise entering their home? Or within the home?
  • Is dampness causing mould in the building?
  • What type of climate is the building in?

Bulk Insulation

Whether its in the form of batts, rolls, boards and is usually constructed of materials like glass wool, polyester, natural wool, recycled paper and straw. These materials act as a barrier between your home and the elements outside and are usually used for homes in cooler climates.

Reflective Insulation

Usually a foil laminate used for homes located in very hot and sunny climates. Reflective insulation works by deflecting radiant heat and keeping the inside of your house cool and comfortable.

R Values

The first step in meeting regulatory requirements is to determine what climate zone you’re in and what type of dwelling you need to insulate. This will determine the R-values required for different parts of your home.

Your insulation material’s ability to prevent heat from either escaping or penetrating the building is called its R-Value. Simply put, an R-Value is a unit of thermal resistance calculated on the thickness of the insulating material. But that’s not to assume that simply increasing the thickness of your material will double or quadruple the R-Value of your insulation or that the higher the value is necessarily better in all cases. The level of insulation needed for your house will depend on several factors including climate zone.

These R-value objectives aren’t measured through insulation alone though; the whole construction is measured, taking into account additions to the R-value like the inherent R-value of things like brick walls, as well as subtractions caused by windows and the like


Under the BCA, insulation needs to perform at the correct R-value for the location and design of the home.

For new home construction and renovations, the performance will be specified in the building plans and specification and must meet the minimum requirements under the BCA for that State or Territory.

The R-value must be shown on the label of the product. If it is not clear, then you should consider using an alternative product.

Another simple indicator of whether the product meets this R-value is the thickness. For example an R3.5 batt is generally at least 170mm in thickness.

And lastly the correct installation of insulation materials is a key aspect in ensuring the products perform at their intended level.

Simple things like the width of the batt, cutting, over filling, under filling or using the product in the wrong location can have a significant impact on performance.

How to pick what zone you are in

The below map of NSW shows the different zones in the NSW area.


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