Mineral Wool Insulation vs Expanded Polystyrene

We get asked a lot by our clients whether they should install mineral wool insulation (ROCK-470) or expanded polystyrene (EPS-410). In this article we are going to discuss their key differences and hopefully help you to make the right choice.

If you would like to get a quote for any of these materials try our new materials calculator by clicking on the picture below

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is made from polymer impregnated with a foaming agent, which when exposed to steam, creates a uniform closed cell structure, highly resistant to heat flow and moisture penetration.

Mineral wool is extremely lightweight and flexible, and holds in place between timber, metal frames and rafters without the need for additional fixings. This means it’s easy to install and work with. It consists of a rock mineral wool slab with a water-repellent additive. The mixture is characterised by its consistent density and high strength, which make it ideal to be used in external wall insulation systems. Thanks to its intrinsic properties, the mixture is malleable, very easy to handle and can be installed to any substrate including timber, metal frames and rafters.

Thermal Performance

The typical U-value for standard thicknesses of EPS board is 0.032 W/mK. By using 100mm of graphite EPS retrofitted on a traditional solid wall or new brickwork will take the u-value of the wall down to just 0.28w/m2k – a substantial improvement on current building regulations.

Typical U-value for standard thicknesses of Rock-470 Mineral Wool (Duo Density) – 100mm board is 0.035W/mK. By using 100mm of mineral wool retrofitted on a traditional solid wall or new brickwork will take the u-value of the wall down to just 0.30w/m2k.

Type Wall Thickness (mm) Wall U-value (w/m2k)
EPS system 100 0.28
Mineral wool system 100 0.30

 

Cost

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is one of the most economic and cost-effective options for insulating your home. For a Silicone Silicate render system with EPS of 100mm thickness the cost per pack of 6 sheets (Size: 1000mm x 500mm) is £8.33 while for mineral wool of 100mm the cost per pack of 2 sheets (Size: 1200mm x 600mm) is £14.58. The adhesive material for EPS cost £3.13 while for mineral wool cost £3.63.

 

EPS

RRP Price per 1m2

Mineral Wool

RRP Price per 1m2

EWI-410

EPS (Graphite) – 100mm

£8.33

ROCK-480

Mineral Wool – 100mm

£14.58

EWI-220 Universal EPS Adhesive

£3.13

EWI-225 Premium EPS Adhesive

£3.63

Total Price for SiSi* Render System

£23.98

Total Price for SiSi* Render System

£31.78

* Silicone Silicate Render System

 

Breathability and Moisture Resistance

Expanded polystyrene boards are lightweight, highly resistant to moisture (but not fully water impregnable like extruded polystyrene) and durable and are expected to remain effective for several years. Apart from their durability they have the advantage of being easy to work with. Refer to the data sheet link for additional information on EPS properties.

Mineral Wool is non-hygroscopic and is carefully treated to ensure maximum water repellency. Additionally, it is odourless, rot-proof, does not sustain vermin and will prevent the growth of fungi, mould or bacteria. It contains a water repellent additive to ensure that no liquid water is able to pass through the slab and reach the existing masonry during installation and construction.

 

Fire Proofing

Although the material itself is combustible, when properly installed, the insulation is protected by the cladding or any other facing materials. Provided that there are no elements of the insulation left exposed, EWI Slab will have no adverse effect on either the surface spread of flame rating or the fire resistance of the wall. On applications over two storeys, it is important that mineral wool fire breaks are installed at each floor level.

EWI Mineral Wools Slabs (such as Dual Density manufactured by Rockwool) are classified as Euroclass A1 to BS EN ISO 13501-1. Moreover, it can be used up to an operating temperature of 850°C. In the event of fire it will emit negligible quantities of smoke and fumes. The heat emission from the products is insignificant.

 

Summary

The advantages of Expended Polystyrene (EPS) over Mineral wool insulation are:

  • More cost-effective option
  • More efficient by offering a superior thermal performance
  • Provides high resistant to heat flow and moisture penetration
  • Maintains its insulating properties, strength and dimensions over the years
  • Provides high resistance to compression
  • Allows a clean installation without dust or irritant fibres
  • Easy to handle and install

 

However, there are some advantages of using Mineral wool insulation foam panels over EPS panels:

  • Provides superior fire resistance properties without fire stops requirements
  • More breathable material compared with EPS
  • Offers solid support to the render
  • Provides excellent acoustic insulation when there are noise restrictions

 

Both of them are long lasting and highly durable materials, excellent for use in any energy efficient project and able to offer a high quality insulation system to your home. They meet the minimum requirements for U-Values (ability to prevent heat leaking in our out) according to building regulations depending on their thickness. So, it is up to you to choose between expanded polystyrene (EPS-410) and mineral wool insulation (ROCK-470) depending on your design and building requirements.

To know more about the U-values you can achieve you can visit our blog: <<Getting to grips with U-Values!>>