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The History of Insulation

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As we look back several centuries, there have been many different methods for insulating a home, including cloth, paper, mud, even grass. In fact, insulation hasn’t always been a part of the construction process.

Believe it or not, ancient Egyptians were the first to use asbestos to insulate their homes. Ancient Greek and Roman houses invented cavity walls for insulation. Cavity walls were rediscovered in the 19th century but paper or wool was put in between the two walls to improve insulation.

Energy costs were low in the earlier part of the 20th century so houses were built without proper insulation. In the 1950s, houses were often built with single layer walls of solid masonry and single pane glass windows. Without insulation, these types of buildings allow heat to escape quickly through the roof and windows.

Insulation evolved very slowly until 1932, when fiberglass was discovered by accident. This material was made into blankets (called “batts”) and began to be used widely. This material quickly came to dominate the marketplace as the primary method of insulating homes in the U.S.

Another material that has gained popularity since the mid 1900’s is cellulose. This is one of the oldest forms of insulation—straw or other organic material made into a loose fill. Cellulose, while non-toxic, must be made fire retardant and mold resistant to be usable.

But the greatest advances in the past 20-30 years is spray foams. Although originally developed in the 1940’s spray-in polyurethane foams have become continually more popular since the late 1970’s. The insulation is applied to the wall with two separate components interacting at the nozzle head to create a self-expanding chemical foam and the excess is trimmed off before the interior sheetrock is added.

In terms of environmental consciousness, spray foam is one of the leading insulation products available on the market today. It is more energy efficient than cellulose or batts, and your energy bills will decrease once your spray foam insulation is installed. Please contact us at Foamaster. We offer a complete line of traditional and spray foam insulation.

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