What is continuous insulation?
As energy codes have become more stringent, the use of continuous insulation (CI) has increased in new construction and retrofits. CI is a thermal barrier that helps prevent heat loss and improves the energy efficiency of a building. It is typically installed on the exterior of a building, wrapping around the exterior of the structural framing, and can include both walls and the roof. The continuity of the system contributes to its effectiveness. As an uninterrupted layer, CI systems can achieve higher R-values than other insulation systems. In this article, we will cover an overview of the introduction to continuous insulation.
Continuous insulation is essential to an energy-efficient building envelope, as it reduces the heat lost through building envelopes. It is often used in conjunction with other energy-efficient measures, such as high-performance windows and doors, to reduce a building’s energy consumption further.
By using continuous insulation, you can improve the thermal performance and energy efficiency of your building. However, to get the most out of your continuous insulation system, it is crucial to choose the right continuous insulation components and system for your specific project.
What are the components of a continuous insulation system?
A continuous insulation system has four main components: the insulation material, sub-framing, fasteners, and additional weather-resistant barrier accessories. We’ll explore each element below.
Insulation – Various types of insulation material can be used within a continuous insulation system including mineral wool and rigid insulation. Mineral wool insulation is constructed from mineral fibers, such as basalt and slag, that are heated until molten. The molten material is then spun into fibers and then formed into a mat or board. Rigid foam board insulation is made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), extruded polystyrene (XPS), or polyisocyanurate (PIR). Mineral wool and rigid foam board is available in various thicknesses and sizes and can be cut to fit any space. There are a couple of things to take into consideration when choosing your insulation material. These include:
- R-value: This is a measure of the material’s thermal resistance and is important for determining how effective the insulation will be. The higher the R-value, the better.
- Water resistance: Continuous insulation is often installed in areas that are vulnerable to moisture, so it’s important to choose a material that won’t be damaged by water.
- Fire resistance: This is an important consideration for any insulation material, but it’s especially important for continuous insulation.
Sub-Framing – Sub-framing plays an essential role in continuous insulation systems. It helps keep the insulation material in place and is also an attachment point for exterior cladding. Sub-framing is commonly made from metal, composite, or a combination of metal and composite. Each sub-framing material offers benefits and challenges.
Fasteners – Fasteners are used to attach the continuous insulation sub-framing to the substrate. Fasteners are also used to attach exterior cladding to the continuous insulation sub-framing. Each type of fastener has its advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when selecting the best option for a particular application.
WRB Accessories – Some continuous insulation systems include weather-resistant barrier (WRB) accessories such as tape, caulk, and expandable sealant. With the additional WRB accessories, some continuous insulation systems can also serve as the WRB within the building envelope.
The materials of each component in a continuous insulation system can significantly impact the overall success of your building envelope and the lifespan of your building. Be sure to follow best practices when selecting the materials for your continuous insulation system.
When it comes to continuous insulation, the material you choose is just as important as the installation itself. Continuous insulation is designed to provide a thermal barrier between the interior and exterior of a building, and the wrong material can jeopardize the system’s efficacy.
Installing continuous insulation is relatively simple and can be done by trained professionals. Continuous insulation is an effective way to improve the energy efficiency of a building and should be considered for any new construction or retrofit project.
Advanced Architectural Products offers several best practice continuous insulation solutions, including SMARTci™ systems with GreenGirt® composite metal hybrid (CMH™) sub-framing. GreenGirt® CMH™ sub-framing pairs the thermally insulating properties of composite with the strength of steel. There are a variety of SMARTci™ systems to meet your specific project requirements.
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