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Old Attic Insulation Types: All You Need To Know

Old Attic Insulation Types

If you live in an older home, understanding what type of insulation you have is crucial for keeping you and your family safe. Insulation has come a long way in recent years.

Gone are the days you can stuff your walls with whatever you like, from recycled blue jeans to fibreglass to anything in between. If you live in an older home with insulation installed when you moved in, you need to know what are the old attic insulation types.

If you understand the insulation types on offer, you can be sure whether you live in a well insulated home, or whether you need to upgrade your insulation to a more modern material.

If your spring cleaning to-do list includes cleaning the attic, or an entire roofspace renovation, then read on.

3 Main Old Attic Insulation Types

There are three common traditional materials for insulating an attic. They are: vermiculite, fibreglass, and mineral wool. Let’s explain all of them in a little more detail:


This is a lightweight, shiny material that resembles mica flakes. It absorbs water, and it is fire resistant. The mineral was popular during the 20th century, mostly because it was easy to apply.

The problem is if your home was built before 1990, chances are your vermiculite insulation is contaminated with asbestos.

If you have this type of insulation, it is crucial that you call in professionals that know how to remove it, and install a safer type of insulation in your home. Only certified contractors can be trusted for a task like this one.


This is a material that can be used as batts, or as a blown-in insulation. Even today, fibreglass remains one of the most popular insulation materials.

The material works as a barrier, trapping the air inside pockets of fluff. When compressed by boxes or other heavy items, fibreglass loses its effectiveness.

One of the possible hazards with fibreglass is that its microscopic slivers can break loose, and irritate your skin and throat. Wear gloves if you need to handle the material, as well as a dust mask, goggles, and a loose-fitting long-sleeve shirt. Clean afterwards.

Or as in the first case, it is much safer to call in professional contractors that can easily remove the hazardous fibreglass, and install better insulation.

Mineral Wool

This material was widely popular before World War II. It can be obtained in two forms, either as rock wool, or slag wool. Mineral wool comes in batts or boards, and the material blocks sound and temperature exchange through walls.

Same as fibreglass, mineral wool can cause itching on contact, and the dust of it will temporarily irritate your throat and respiratory system. If you have it, follow the same precautions as with vermiculite and fibreglass.

Old Attic Insulation Types

Old Attic Insulation Types: Signs Of Asbestos Contamination

One of the biggest problems with old attic insulation types is that some of them are contaminated with asbestos. As we mentioned previously, vermiculite can often come with some asbestos mixed into it. And as we all know, asbestos hardly needs an introduction anymore.

Most homeowners are schooled of the dangers of distributing and breathing asbestos fibre.

In older homes, asbestos can be found in many things, insulation included, especially loose-fill attic insulation. If your insulation is in batt form, you shouldn’t worry.

In its essence, vermiculite is pellet-like material, that expands at high temperatures. It is often used for gardening, and as insulation in older homes. But the vermiculite that was mined years ago was contaminated with an asbestos-like material.

How to know whether your home has asbestos in it? Here are some guidelines:

  • If your home was built before 1990, chances are you have one of the old attic insulation types
  • If the insulation particles have a certain colour usually grey-brown or silver-gold
  • The particles of the insulation have an accordion-like texture
  • If the insulation lays flat

Old Attic Insulation Types

Because of its expansive nature, spray foam is versatile and can be used for everything. Be it attic insulation, ceiling insulation, walls insulation, floors, or anything in between, spray foam will fill the area!

Old Attic Insulation Types: Consider The Key Characteristics

Another way to determine what type of insulation you have in your home is to look at the insulation itself.

For example, if the insulation is loose-fill, grey, soft, and without a shine, you probably have cellulose insulation. This is an insulation material made from recycled paper, and there are no minerals. The material looks like shredded grey paper.

If the loose-fill insulation is white and fluffy, with a little shine, then that is fibreglass insulation. A glass product, fibreglass always has a little shine when subjected to bright light. The insulation material is very soft, feeling almost like candyfloss to the touch.

If the loose-fill insulation is grey, puffy, and fibrous, then that is rock wool insulation.

Old Attic Insulation: How To Replace It

Now that we know the old attic insulation types on the market, the question is whether there is a newer, more modern alternative available.

As we mentioned at the beginning, insulation has come a long way in the past several years. One of the more sophisticated products lately is spray foam insulation. The good thing about spray foam is you can use it for any part of the home.

Because of its expansive nature, spray foam is versatile and can be used for everything. Be it attic insulation, ceiling insulation, walls insulation, floors, or anything in between, spray foam will fill the area.

And due to the fact that spray foam expands up to 100 times its original size, the insulation material will fill every cavity, holes, and crack you have. The result is an airtight seal, that has very high insulation properties.

Spray foam insulation has the highest R-value on the market. And because you decide how much you spray, you can adjust the thickness of the insulation any way you like it.

Last, but not least, spray foam protects your home not just from losing heat, but from moisture and noise as well. Spray foam is waterproof, but also provides a superior, soundproof barrier for your home, ensuring more peaceful conditions inside.

Seeking to upgrade your existing insulation in line with the latest standards? Spray foam enables you to achieve exactly that! Learn more about this premium performing product, by calling 0800 1700 636, or by simply clicking the button below!