Juggling skilled labor, smaller crews and the pandemic’s starts and stops amid unusually high demand, this past year has been particularly challenging for insulation contractors. Now, the Insulation Contractors Association of America (ICAA) is calling on its members to “get back in the saddle!” Converging in Austin, TX, in late September, the ICAA seeks to sort out what is to come—and it will be no easy ride. With continued labor issues, the longer housing cycle, inflation and rising interest rates, insulation contractors must continue doing more with less. This means that it’s never been more critical to find the right materials and practices to increase efficiency on the job.

Fortunately for insulation contractors and their customers, the need for speed and jobsite productivity coincides with the introduction of advanced new manufacturing technologies enabling a new generation of fiberglass insulation that will make installation faster, cleaner and more efficient than ever before. 

A Tried-and-True Favorite—Improved 

Fiberglass insulation has long been the go-to solution for many insulation contractors who value its simplicity of install, resistance to settling, and inherent resistance to fire. That remains true today. Home Innovation’s 2019 Annual Builder Practices survey found that fiberglass insulation was “solidly the most popular insulation material in new homes,” with fiberglass batt comprising about 70 percent of the marketplace.

Insulation Choices Revealed in New Study | Home Innovation Research

One reason for the continued popularity of fiberglass insulation is that ongoing product improvements have continued to advance the industry over the past 80-plus years. Behind the scenes, building materials scientists and manufacturing engineers have continued to evolve the recipes and processes used to achieve a steady stream of enhancements. And today, we’re on the cusp of an exciting new wave of improvements that will once again change the standard of fiberglass insulation. 

A New Generation of Fiberglass Insulation

This new standard is being enabled by advancements in fiber technology. By combining several proprietary manufacturing technologies, insulation category leader Owens Corning is rolling out a product line of next generation fiberglass insulation this year.

In early product trials, contractors confirmed that superior texture, recovery and other improved characteristics make the new products even easier and faster to work with—helping to enable top quality results in less time.

Installers can expect to see impressive recovery to completely fill stud cavities, less clumps and chunks for improved cutting and splitting as well as added stiffness to help batts stay in place. The product’s smooth texture also contributes to a clean, precise-looking installation—a big plus when it comes to inspection time.  

A benefit of these emerging advancements in fiberglass manufacturing is the ability to reduce waste and ultimately cut costs. “Every penny counts on any job,” explained Dean Moody of Intermountain West Insulation (IWI), Spokane, Washington. “Installers will also often toss the bad pieces they can’t use. With this new generation of fiberglass, there’s likely to be less unusable pieces, which means more cost savings on every application and far less waste to dispose of.”

A Preferred Solution for Speed, Simplicity, and Safety

As builders look for the best ways to meet increasingly stringent energy codes within challenging timelines and budgets, insulation contractors continue to recognize the value and proven performance of fiberglass insulation. 

In fact, the Global Fiberglass Insulation Report conducted in 2019 by The Freedonia Group, a division of MarketResearch.com, found that "Fiberglass will continue to account for the largest share of insulation demand by volume because of its high R-values, relative ease of installation, and low cost relative to foamed plastic insulation.” 

Now, with the availability of next generation of fiberglass insulation, contractors have access to insulation that is safe, proven, cost-effective and more sustainable, all without the need for onsite mixing of harsh chemicals or evacuation of workers, which is particularly appealing in today’s time-constrained environment.

With advanced fiber technology and Owens Corning’s history of proven performance, the next generation of fiberglass insulation is the logical choice for insulation contractors looking to meet today’s challenges with speed, quality, safety and cost-effectiveness.