19th Mar 2024 -

Rockwool insulation stands out as a top-quality solution for thermal and fire protection. It harnesses the properties of nature to create a superior barrier against energy loss and fire hazards. As builders prioritise energy efficiency and safety, Rockwool insulation offers a compelling combination of high performance and durability.

This article delves into the key characteristics and benefits that make Rockwool insulation a desired choice. From its unique composition to its exceptional insulating fire-resistant properties, we explore the factors that set this material apart.

What is Rockwool insulation?

Rockwool insulation consists of spun fibres derived from molten rock, basalt or slag. These fibres interlock, creating a rigid yet lightweight blanket that excels at trapping air pockets, providing exceptional insulating capabilities.

Insulation is produced by melting the raw materials at extreme temperatures exceeding 1600°C (2912°F). The molten material is spun into fine fibres. These fibres cool rapidly, hardening into a dense, moisture-resistant mat. Binders and oils enhance the material's durability and dimensional stability.

Different types of Rockwool insulation

Rockwool insulation comes in various forms. It is designed to provide optimal performance and ease of installation in specific situations. Below are the different Rockwool insulation types to consider.

  • Batts and blankets: These pre-cut and pre-sized panels are designed for friction-fitting between studs, joists and beams in wall, floor and ceiling areas. Installers can easily cut batts and blankets to fit around obstacles and into irregular spaces.
  • Boards and slabs: Insulation also comes in rigid board and slab form, offering dimensional stability and compressive strength. Rockwool insulation slab and board options excel in applications such as exterior insulation, flat roof and rainscreen cladding systems. They provide continuous insulation and protection against moisture.
  • Insulation rolls: Rockwool insulation roll is the best option for applications requiring continuous insulation without joints or seams. These flexible rolls allow for efficient coverage of large areas, such as lofts, crawl spaces or continuous insulation on exterior walls. Their seamless installation minimises thermal bridging and air leakage.
  • Loose-fill insulation: For hard-to-reach areas like lofts and crawl spaces, Rockwool loose-fill insulation provides an effective solution. Installers blow this insulation into a space and it conforms to irregular shapes for complete coverage without gaps.
  • Curtain batts: Designed for curtain wall and rainscreen applications, Rockwool curtain batts offer excellent proper ventilation and drainage. These semi-rigid batts prevent thermal bridging and moisture accumulation, protecting the building envelope.
  • Pipe and vessel insulation: Rockwool manufactures specialised insulation products for pipes, vessels and industrial equipment. These insulation solutions resist high temperatures, prevent heat loss or gain and provide fire protection.

7 benefits of Rockwool insulation

Rockwool insulation delivers an exceptional range of benefits that surpass traditional insulation materials. Its unique composition delivers superior performance, making it an attractive choice for various applications. Here are 7 key benefits. 

1. Thermal efficiency

The dense fibre structure of Rockwool thermal insulation traps millions of tiny air pockets, creating an effective barrier against heat transfer. With an impressive R-value ranging from 3.0 to 3.3 per inch, it provides excellent thermal resistance. This high insulating value means you use less material to achieve optimal energy efficiency.

2. Fire resistance

Rockwool insulation stands apart due to its non-combustible nature, composed entirely of rock-based fibres. It can withstand extreme temperatures up to 1000°C (1832°F). Its excellent fire resistance makes it an ideal choice for fire-rated construction assemblies. Rockwool meets stringent fire codes and standards.

3. Sound absorption

​​The unique porous structure of Rockwool sound insulation allows it to effectively absorb sound waves. It reduces noise transmission between rooms and from external sources. With an impressive Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) ranging from 0.80 to 1.05, Rockwool acoustic insulation creates quiet and comfortable spaces.

4. Moisture resistance

Unlike other insulation materials that absorb moisture and promote mould growth, Rockwool insulation actively repels water. Its resistance prevents the growth of mould, mildew and other moisture-related issues. This ensures a healthier indoor environment and prolongs the insulation's lifespan, even in damp conditions.

5. Dimensional stability

While some materials can settle or sag over time, Rockwool insulation maintains its shape and thick dimension throughout its lifespan. This dimensional stability ensures consistent thermal and acoustic performance. It offers long-lasting benefits without compromising energy efficiency or sound insulation.

6. Ease of installation

As outlined above, Rockwool mineral wool insulation is available in various forms, including batts, roll, board and loose-fill forms. This allows you to easily cut, lay and install in diverse spaces, such as cavity, wall and loft spaces. Its flexibility ensures seamless integration and optimal coverage.

7. Sustainability

Manufactured from natural resources, Rockwool insulation contains up to 40% recycled content. Plus, it is fully recyclable at the end of its lifecycle. This contributes to a more sustainable built environment and reduces waste sent to landfills.

Rockwool vs PIR: Which is best?

While both Rockwool and polyisocyanurate (PIR) offer excellent thermal resistance, their characteristics differ. This makes each one better suited for specific applications. Here are the main differences between the 2 types to consider.

Fire resilienceNon-combustible and actively repels and contains flames. Superb fire resistance ratings.Some fire retardancy, but can spread flames and release toxic gases when burned.
Thermal efficiencyR-value 3.0 - 3.3 per inch.R-value 5.6 - 8.0 per inch.
Moisture managementRepels moisture and prevents mould growth. Excellent in damp environments.Can absorb moisture over time, compromising insulating value and structural integrity.
Dimensional integrityRigid composition maintains shape and thickness indefinitely with no settling or deformation.PIR insulation may experience some shrinkage over time under certain conditions.
Environmental impactContains up to 40% recycled content. Fully recyclable for a sustainable lifecycle.Manufacturing produces greenhouse gas emissions. Limited end-of-life disposal options.
Installation versatilityAvailable in batts, boards, and loose fill for various applications.Comes in rigid boards requiring precise cutting and sealing.

Can you retrofit existing buildings with Rockwool?

When retrofitting insulation in existing buildings, Rockwool offers distinct advantages over traditional batt, spray foam and loose-fill options. Its semi-rigid mineral wool batts and flexible rolls allow for seamless installation around obstructions with minimal prep work. Rockwool also excels where other insulations fall short. 

Its hydrophobic nature repels moisture. While its non-combustible composition enhances fire safety during retrofits involving combustible materials. Fibreglass batts can leave gaps and voids when navigating existing framing. Spray foams require extensive air sealing, protective equipment and hazardous off-gassing.

Cellulose and fibreglass readily absorb moisture already present, trapping it within assemblies. Most insulations negatively impact fire resistance by adding combustible materials. Rockwool avoids these pitfalls, simplifying the retrofit process.

How to install Rockwool insulation

Proper installation maximises the performance benefits of Rockwool insulation. Follow these top tips for successful application across all insulation types. 

Batts and blankets

  • Cut batts using an insulation knife or saw for a snug fit around obstacles like electrical boxes. Creating tight seals prevents gaps that allow air leakage and heat transfer. 
  • For exterior wood-framed walls, cut Rockwool external wall insulation to fit tightly between studs. This creates a thermal and acoustic barrier.
  • Flanges on 1 edge offer thermal resistance when facing the heated interior side.
  • Install with no gaps or compression. Use wire supports if needed to maintain full insulation thickness over time.

Boards and slabs

  • Measure each sheet carefully and cut using a utility knife and straight edge. Tight joints with no gaps maintain continuous insulation coverage.
  • Use Rockwool Toprock® rigid slabs under concrete floor slabs. This will insulate against heat loss.
  • Apply an adhesive or fasten boards and slabs with fixings like screws or metal pins for secure installation.
  • Stagger joints between rows and seal all gaps with sealant to preserve the air and vapour barrier.

Insulation rolls

  • Unroll horizontally or vertically based on area dimensions and obstructions. This allows for optimal coverage with minimal cutting required.
  • For example, install flexible rolls in irregularly shaped wall cavities of timber frame construction.
  • Cut lengths to fit tightly against framing without compressing the insulation, which reduces the R-value.
  • For full coverage, join seams tightly with no gaps between adjacent insulation sections.

Loose-fill insulation

  • Use a blowing machine to blow insulation into cavities for dense, even distribution. Pack tightly for a full loft with no settling. 
  • Blow loose-fill Rockwool loft insulation for complete coverage around obstructions.
  • Install blocking at the bottom of wall cavities to contain loose-fill insulation during application.
  • Achieve full depth across the entire area without voids or uninsulated spaces.

Curtain batts

  • Compress into curtain wall cavities while maintaining insulation thickness for effective fire containment. 
  • For example, Rockwool fire barrier systems provide superb fire resistance.
  • Fit tightly with no air gaps against framing and between adjacent batt sections.
  • Leave required ventilation and drainage openings. 

Pipe and vessel insulation

  • Cut to the desired length while minimising dust using an insulation knife or saw.
  • Rockwool pipe insulation protects hot pipes and equipment with proven fire resistance.
  • Wrap with specified compression fit around pipes, vessels or equipment for continuous coverage.
  • Secure tightly using banding, adhesives or fasteners.
  • Seal joints and terminations to enclose the insulation fully.

How long does Rockwool insulation last?

One of the standout qualities of Rockwool insulation is its durability. Its composition gives it an edge over alternative materials in terms of reliable performance. Below, we outline the average lifespan for properly installed insulation as well as maintenance tips.

Insulation typeApproximate lifespanMaintenance tips
Batts and blankets50+ years- Keep dry by preventing moisture infiltration with proper vapour barriers.
- Carry out annual inspections and repair any gaps, tears or compression.
- Ensure sufficient ventilation in wall cavities.
Insulation rolls50+ years- Minimise compression during installation for full insulating value.
-  Seal all seams and joints to prevent air infiltration.
- Inspect yearly and re-seal any openings.
Boards and slabs50+ years- Create proper securement to prevent sagging or warping.
- Seal joints completely to maintain continuous insulation.
- Repair any damage or openings promptly.
Loose-fill50+ years- Dense-pack to prevent any settling or voids.
 - Top up any low areas identified during annual inspections.
 - Make sure loft and cavity baffles are not blocked.
Curtain batts25-50 years- Inspect cavities regularly for moisture accumulation.
- Maintain clear ventilation and drainage openings.
- Fix any dislodged or damaged batt sections.
Pipe and vessel25-50 years- Replace coverings and finishes as they become worn.
- Seal joints and terminations completely.
- Ensure proper securement based on specifications.

Does Rockwool insulation guarantee top performance?

At Building Materials Nationwide, we are dedicated to supplying top-quality Rockwool insulation to meet your construction needs. From exceptional Rockwool floor insulation to Rockwool cavity wall insulation, our products boast high thermal performance, fire resistance and sound absorption properties. 

Trade customers can take advantage of our streamlined process by opening a trade account. Gaining access to benefits such as competitive trade pricing, personalised support and efficient UK delivery options. Open a trade account with us today or contact the team for more information.

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