4 Types of Materials Used in Thermal Insulation

The importance of choosing the right material for thermal insulation

Thermal insulation is the reduction of the transfer of heat between objects in thermal contact or within the range of radiative influence. Thermal insulation can be accomplished by the use of specially engineered methods or processes, and by using appropriate object shapes and materials. Simply put, it relates to the various ways we try to prevent heat from transferring from one material to another.

Why is thermal insulation so important?

The benefits of thermal insulation are clear. It reduces energy consumption – and therefore costs – in addition to offering increased fire protection, preventing condensation, reducing moisture build-up and serving as an environmentally friendly solution.

There are a variety of different materials available to choose from when installing thermal insulation. It all depends on the type of building you have (offices, residential, warehouses, factories, etc.,) as well as your end goal and budget. It’s important to think about which type of thermal insulation materials best apply to your situation. Luckily, there are a number of great choices, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.

Types of Thermal Insulation Materials


Nitrile pipe insulation is manufactured from closed-cell foam that is surrounded by a flexible elastomeric jacket. Due to its closed-cell structure combined with its low thermal conductivity and an in-built vapour barrier, Nitrile products can protect pipework and ductwork installations against heat losses and condensation. This means that energy losses can be minimised on heating and hot water services whereas on cold services condensation can be easily controlled, with water vapour pressure not able to penetrate the material.

Generally, nitrile insulation, whether applied to ductwork or pipework will be manufactured as rolls, slabs and pipe sections, with differing thicknesses to suit the requirements.

Mineral wool

This refers to a number of different types of insulation, the two main choices being rock wool and glass wool. Rock wool is made from basalt, whereas glass wool is made from recycled glass and sand. Although most mineral wool insulation is not fire resistant – and therefore not suitable for areas susceptible to extreme heat, it has other benefits. For instance, it has high resistance, durability and is a popular choice when trying to insulate larger areas of space.

Fibreglass insulation

For a long time, fibreglass insulation has been an extremely common and favoured type of insulation material across many industries. Made by weaving fine strands of glass into an insulation material, its widespread use makes it quite a cost-effective option. Minimising heat transfer, fibreglass insulation is a brilliantly effective non-flammable insulation material that offers more benefits than drawbacks.

Phenolic foam

Phenolic insulation is one of the best thermal insulation materials for piping. Manufactured using a process whereby a plastic foam forms an insulating core between two flexible tissue-faced layers, it’s a unique material used in process/petrochemical applications for the insulation of pipe work, tanks and vessels. Its key benefits include great thermal performance, moisture resistance, fire performance and strength.

Expert Guides

Our goal at Thermal Clad is to not only provide our customers with the finest service possible but also to keep them informed about new products and industry trends.

Please feel free to check out some of our expert insulation guides below: