Insulation Innovation Blog

Insulation Properties and their Definitions

Posted by Brittney Fells

Thermal Properties are typically first thought of when selecting an insulation material. Other properties must be considered when choosing an insulation type.

Please, find a list of mechanical and chemical properties to consider before selecting an insulation

Appearance – Important for exposed areas and coding purposes.

Capillarity - The ability of a cellular, fibrous or granular material to diffuse water into its structure

Chemical resistance – Significant when the atmosphere is salt or chemical laden.


The coefficient of expansion and contraction – Enters into the design and spacing of expansion/contraction joints and or the use of multiple later insulation applications.

Combustibility – One of the measures of material’s potential contribution to a fire hazard.

Compressive strength – Important if the insulation must support a load or withstand mechanical abuse without crushing.

Density – A material’s density affects other properties of that material, especially thermal properties.

Dimensional Stability – Significant when the material is exposed to atmospheric and mechanical abuse such as twisting or vibration from thermally expanding or contracting pipe and equipment.

Fire retardancy – Flame spread and smoke development ratings should be considered.

Hygroscopicity– Tendency of a material to absorb water vapor from the air.

pH (alkalinity or acidity) – Insulation must not contribute to corrosion of the system.

Resistance to fungal or bacterial growth – Significant in outdoor or indoor applications when exposed to high-intensity light.

Resistance to ultraviolet light – Significant in outdoor or indoor applications when exposed to high-intensity light.

Shrinkage – Significant when materials are exposed to high or low temperatures.

Sound absorption coefficient – Must be considered when sound attenuation is required, as it is in radio stations, some hospitals areas, etc.

Sound transmission loss value – Significant when constructing a sound barrier.

Toxicity – Must be considered for all materials used as insulation or accessories.

Topics: industrial insulation, mechanical insulation properties, thermal properties, chemical properites, mechanical properites, applications, definitions

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