Plastic Foam & Mineral Wool Insulation Materials Continue to Gain Over Fiberglass

Cleveland OH, March 16, 2022 – Plastic foam and mineral wool insulation materials continue to gain share from fiberglass products, according to a new Freedonia Group analysis.

While fiberglass will continue to account for the largest share of insulation demand by volume because of its relative ease of installation and cost effectiveness (i.e., it provides good R-values at a relatively low cost), its market share will decline through 2025. The drive toward increasing insulation and improving air sealing in new residential buildings will lead to increased use of foamed plastic and mineral wool insulation over fiberglass products:

  • Foamed plastic offers more R-value per inch than fiberglass.
  • Both foamed plastic and mineral wool products can be used between the framing and cladding to provide an air barrier.

Insulation Demand to Rise Nearly 2% Annually Through 2025

Demand for insulation in the US is forecast to increase 1.9% annually to 10.4 billion pounds in 2025 from a high 2020 base, which resulted from an increase in home renovation and new home construction during the pandemic. While demand will expand more quickly in value terms – boosted by price increases for key raw materials such as plastic and mineral wool – moderating residential building construction beginning in 2022 will dampen the outlook.

Key factors that will support insulation market demand through 2025 include:

  • rebounding commercial construction activity, which fell sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • stringent fire safety policies and increasing energy efficiency codes throughout the country, which often call for greater use of insulation in buildings
  • strong rebounds in transportation equipment production
  • increasing production of HVAC equipment, industrial equipment, and appliances, particularly refrigerators and freezers

Want to Learn More?

Insulation, now available from The Freedonia Group, provides historical data (2010, 2015, and 2020) and forecasts for 2025 and 2030 are provided for US insulation demand by material, market, and region. Data are provided in a variety of units, including dollars, pounds, square feet, and square feet of R-1 equivalent. Demand in value terms is shown at the manufacturers’ level and excludes distributor and retailer markups. Both thermal and acoustic insulation are included in the scope of this study.

Materials are broken out by product form and, for foamed plastics, by type of resin. Additionally, mineral wool and cellulose are broken out by type:

  • fiberglass (batts and blankets; loose fill; rigid board; roof deck, pipe and duct wrap, and other product forms)
  • foamed plastic (rigid polyurethane and polyisocyanurate (PUR/PIR) board; spray polyurethane foam (SPF), including open-cell and closed-cell types; extruded polystyrene (XPS); expanded polystyrene (EPS), including graphite polystyrene; others foamed plastics (e.g., elastomeric, phenolic, polyolefin, melamine)
  • cellulose (blown-in; spray-applied)
  • mineral wool (batts and blankets; loose fill; felt, specialty, and other mineral wool products)
  • reflective insulation and radiant barriers
  • other materials (e.g., vacuum insulation panels, aerogels, perlite, vermiculite, cementitious foam, Icynene foam)

The major market segments analyzed are:

  • residential buildings (e.g., single-family, including manufactured homes, and multifamily)
  • commercial buildings (including, office, retail, and lodging; institutional; and industrial buildings)
  • industrial and plant equipment
  • HVAC/air distribution equipment
  • appliances
  • transportation equipment
  • other insulation markets, including coolers and thermoses, nonbuilding construction, packaging, furniture, bedding, clothing, and off-road equipment

The residential and commercial building markets are further segmented by project type (i.e., new building and retrofit) and by building type.Demand for insulation is also broken out by US geographic region and subregion.