Tom Kraeutler: It’s October, and the time of year when a lot of folks start to turn on their heating system, followed by that first heating bill. When it hits, you start to think very carefully about what you can do to make your home more energy efficient. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do. There’s a lot you can do when you buy a house. There’s a lot you can do when you build a house. There’s a lot you can do when you remodel your house. The insulation technology has changed such, so it offers you many more benefits than just energy savings. A great example of that is Roxul. Roxul is a product that was originally launched in Canada, and has now made its way across the United States. It’s insulation with some very unique qualities. With me to talk about that is Dan Brown. Dan is a certified green remodeling professional, and representative of Roxul. Let’s talk about how it differs from, start with, say, fiberglass insulation.
Dan Brown: Roxul stonewool insulation is made of a combination of natural basalt lava rock, and recycled steel slag. Through the decades, the process has been refined. It’s a very clean product. It’s not as gritty as what was known in the past. Very easy to work with, very easy to install into the wall cavities.
Tom Kraeutler: As a stonewool insulation, it has qualities that, say, fiberglass wouldn’t, one of which is its fire resistance. I’ve seen demos of your product where you literally hold a torch on it. Seems to have no effect.
Dan Brown: What it’s made of makes the big difference. It’s made of rock and slag, so very high combustion temperatures. We’re talking up to 2,150 degrees before it melts, well above what your typical house fire gets to, which is around 1,200 to 1,500 degrees.
Tom Kraeutler: What about the moisture resistance of this product? With many types of insulation, if it gets wet, it’s pretty useless. What happens when Roxul gets wet?
Dan Brown: The great thing about Roxul insulation is, it’s water repellent. You might have different seasons where you’ve got high levels of moisture on the outside, and cold, conditioned space on the interior, or vice-versa during the winter. Roxul, the vapor passes through it, so it doesn’t stay wet. It dries out easier, so all the other building materials are able to dry out, as well.
Tom Kraeutler: That’s terrific. Let’s also talk about now, another issue that hits a lot of homeowners, and that’s the noise inside the house. Insulation is often thought of as a solution for that, but frankly, I know that fiberglass insulation just doesn’t work very well, even though people think it does. How does Roxul perform in terms of trying to quiet a room? This may be a rec-room, or it might just even be a bedroom, if you’re a light sleeper and you want to try to make it as quiet as possible. Is installing Roxul in between those partition walls, those non-exterior walls, a way to achieve some degree of quiet?
Dan Brown: Yeah, the Roxul insulation, because of its non-directional fibers, it performs exceptionally, versus fiberglass, especially at low frequencies. We’re talking the washer and dryer noise, bass on a home theater system or a TV, or even conversations between rooms, or the flushing of toilets, or the draining of tubs. It’s going to cut down on that low frequency noise.
Tom Kraeutler: All those common household noises. Is it a difficult product to handle in terms of installing it or cutting it, and getting it where you need to go?
Dan Brown: It’s very easy to cut. If you can cut bread, you can cut Roxul. It fits nice and snug between the wall. All you need is a bread knife, or a fine-tooth serrated blade to notch it for outlets, receptacles, any obstruction you have in the wall, it’s easily notched out for.
Tom Kraeutler: Is there any release of materials in the air, like you might see with a fiberglass product?
Dan Brown: It’s an inner building material, so while it’s made of rock, it’s very dense. Any of those particulates tend to fall easily. Once installed, there’s no off-gassing over time.
Tom Kraeutler: Let’s talk about the cost. Is this significantly more expensive than other forms of insulation?
Dan Brown: It’s very comparable to what you’ll find with a fiberglass insulation. It’s not necessarily more. It’s very comparable. When we first entered the market, it might have been a little bit higher, but now over the years, it’s a comparable price product.
Tom Kraeutler: If you’re thinking about an insulation product for your home, you have a lot of choices. You have bad insulation. You have foam insulation. There’s another type of insulation though, that you may not be familiar with, and I dare say, it’s probably one of the most natural types of insulation, because it’s made out of stone. It’s called stone wool. The major trade name for this product in the country is Roxul. With me to talk about that is Dan Brown. Dan, tell me how Roxul is actually crafted out of stone. What’s the process?
Dan Brown: Roxul insulation is made from the natural resource in basalt lava rock, which is inert, and a combination of steel slag from the steel industry, from iron ore production. It’s melted. It’s heated to a very extreme temperature, 2,700 degrees. It’s cooled down, and then air is forced through it. It’s spun onto a drum, very similar to how cotton candy is made.
Tom Kraeutler: What are the benefits of Roxul?
Dan Brown: Roxul is superior at energy efficiency. It’s a fiber resistant material, so it doesn’t burn. It’s non-combustible. No smoke. It’s also water repellent, so it doesn’t mold. It doesn’t mildew. It dries out with the seasons. It also is an excellent sound-absorbent material.
Tom Kraeutler: If you have an existing home, and you would like to add insulation to it, can you add Roxul to other types of insulation, or are you better off taking out all of the old, say, fiberglass insulation and starting new with Roxul?
Dan Brown: One of the major areas for heat loss during the winter would be an attic space. If you have existing insulation in your attic that may have settled over time, as long as that insulation is in good condition, the Roxul actually can be added on top of that. Adding that extra layer to your attic space can significantly help with energy efficiency. Roxul is a good product there, because it is more dense than your traditional insulations. It’s going to stay exactly where you put it, and it’s easy to install.
Tom Kraeutler: Dan Brown from Roxul. Thank you so much for being a part of the Money Pit.
Dan Brown: Thank you, Tom. Pleasure.