9 Types of Pipe Insulation Explained

October 12, 2023·6 min
Carrie PowersCarrie Powers

In the vast and intricate world of industrial facilities, the significance of maintaining the temperature of liquids flowing through pipes is paramount. Pipe insulation serves as a protective cloak that helps to ensure optimal temperature regulation and energy efficiency. Understanding the different types of pipe insulation is crucial to selecting the right one for specific applications.

Unraveling the Different Types of Pipe Insulation

Pipe insulation materials are as varied as they are essential. Here, we uncover the diverse types available, each serving a unique purpose in the industrial landscape.

1. Polyethylene

Recognized for its remarkable flexibility and lightweight structure, polyethylene is extensively utilized in cooling applications and widely favored in both residential and commercial sectors.

2. Polyisocyanurate

Also known as PIR, polyisocyanurate is an advanced form of polyurethane foam insulation. It excels in high-temperature applications due to its excellent fire resistance and thermal efficiency. With the ability to withstand continuous exposure to temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit without rapid degradation, PIR insulation is a reliable choice for demanding industrial purposes.

3. Polystyrene

Polystyrene is a popular material known for its exceptional insulation properties. It is widely used in low-temperature applications to provide consistent and reliable thermal insulation.

4. Polyurethane

Polyurethane insulation is highly esteemed for its exceptional insulating properties and impressive durability. It retains its shape and insulation effectiveness across a wide range of temperatures, which makes it the preferred choice for insulating refrigeration systems and chilled water pipes. Its remarkable resistance to moisture absorption enhances its lifespan which means it is a cost-effective solution in the long run.

5. Phenolic

Phenolic foam insulation is widely recognized for its exceptional fire resistance and low smoke emission. It is a great choice for environments that demand high fire safety standards. Check out this link for more information: Phenolic foam insulation.

It has a low thermal conductivity for superior insulation performance and energy efficiency.

6. Fiberglass

Fiberglass insulation is known for its exceptional thermal insulation, cost-effectiveness, and fire resistance. Made of fine glass fibers that effectively trap pockets of air, it offers excellent thermal insulation properties. It is also non-combustible, which makes it a safer choice in environments prone to fire hazards.

The use of a vapor barrier is necessary with fiberglass insulation to prevent moisture absorption.

7. Mineral Wool

Mineral wool, also known as rock wool, is widely acclaimed in industrial settings due to its exceptional thermal and acoustic insulation properties. It is a versatile material that is produced by spinning molten rock or industrial waste into fibers, to effectively impede heat transfer and minimize noise.

With an impressive temperature tolerance of up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, mineral wool is particularly suitable for high-temperature applications. It exhibits fire-resistant characteristics, repels water, and mitigates the risk of mold and corrosion. Similar to fiberglass, the use of a vapor barrier is necessary to prevent moisture infiltration.

8. Nitrile Rubber

Nitrile rubber, highly regarded for its moisture and flame resistance, is the optimal choice for refrigeration lines and air-conditioning systems. It is renowned for its exceptional durability and flexibility, and easy installation in various configurations. With impressive oil and chemical resistance, nitrile rubber insulation guarantees long-lasting and reliable performance even in systems exposed to such substances.

9. EPDM Rubber

EPDM rubber insulation is highly durable and resistant to UV radiation, so it is an excellent choice for outdoor applications. It can withstand diverse weather conditions without significant degradation. Its elasticity and flexibility make installation easy and help to ensure a precise fit around pipes. However, EPDM, like other rubber insulations, is not suitable for high-temperature environments.

Practical Uses of Various Pipe Insulation Materials

Understanding where and why each type of pipe insulation is used is key to selecting the best pipe insulation material for any given scenario.

Thermal Efficiency

The primary objective of insulation is to minimize heat loss or gain in pipework, thereby enhancing energy efficiency. Opting for insulation materials with low thermal conductivity is recommended, as they exhibit superior resistance to heat transfer.

  • PIR and Phenolic foam insulations demonstrate extremely low thermal conductivity, to effectively prevent heat loss.
  • Mineral wool and fiberglass insulation, on the other hand, are preferred for applications involving high temperatures due to their exceptional ability to withstand extreme temperature conditions.

To ensure suitable insulation selection, it is crucial to thoroughly comprehend the thermal requirements of the system.

Condensation Control

Fluctuations in temperature can trigger the formation of condensation, which in turn leads to corrosion, insulation deterioration, and the unwelcome presence of moisture. To combat this, it is common practice to employ waterproof insulation materials equipped with vapor barriers such as rubber, fiberglass, and mineral wool.
Ensuring proper installation guarantees a watertight seal, to effectively prevent the ingress of moisture and thereby preserve the system’s efficiency and lifespan. The application of insulation in HVAC systems and refrigeration lines proves instrumental in regulating condensation, staving off corrosion, and extending the overall longevity of the system.

Freeze Protection

Ensuring proper freeze protection is critical when choosing pipe insulation. Exposed pipes in freezing temperatures can lead to substantial expenses and disruptions. Effective insulation reduces heat loss and mitigates potential risks. High R-value materials, such as polyurethane foam, are commonly used for this purpose.

Noise Reduction

Noise reduction is crucial, especially in residential or commercial buildings where pipe noise can disrupt. Insulation acts as a sound barrier that can help to minimize noise from water, gas, or other fluids in pipes. Materials like fiberglass, mineral wool, and polyurethane foam are helpful due to their excellent sound absorption. These types of insulating materials can create a peaceful and comfortable environment by reducing pipe noise.

Rubber insulation, in particular, acts as a sound barrier, to help minimize noise from vibrating pipes in residential and commercial buildings.

The Significance of Insulated Pipe Supports

Beyond the insulation itself, the role of insulated pipe supports cannot be overstated. They secure the insulated pipes, to help ensure alignment and structural integrity.

Insulated pipe supports, like those offered by Buckaroos®, are crucial in safeguarding the insulation material and maintaining the efficacy of the entire insulation system. They provide:

  • Structural Integrity: They provide stability to the insulated pipes and prevent sagging and help to ensure long-term performance.
  • Thermal Efficiency: By securing the insulation in place, they help maintain the thermal efficiency of the insulation material.
  • Versatility: With options such as Phenolic and Polyisocyanurate supports available, they can be utilized in a wide range of applications.

Buckaroos® – Your Go-To Solution for Pipe Insulation and Supports

Buckaroos® stands out as a leader in providing high-quality pipe insulation types and insulated pipe supports. Whether you’re looking for Phenolic supports for their fire performance or Polyisocyanurate for high-temperature applications, Buckaroos® has a solution tailored to your needs.

Explore the Buckaroos® Range

CoolDry™ Insulated Pipe Supports

Our Polyphen™ rigid phenolic foam insulation provides top-notch thermal performance and durability, and when it comes to resisting moisture intrusion, CoolDry™ Insulated Pipe Supports are the ultimate solution, especially in condensation-prone situations. Trust us to keep your pipes in top shape!

CoolDry™ Sliding Pipe Supports

Introducing our CoolDry™ Sliding Pipe Supports, a 360° insulated pipe support system for chilled water applications! It’s designed to handle controlled linear expansion and contraction up to 4″ in one direction. Our system is manufactured with Polyphen™ rigid phenolic foam insulation, which has been tested and passed the ASTM E-87 Class A requirements for flame spread and smoke development (25/50 rating).

CoolDry™ Heavy Duty Pipe Supports

CoolDry™ Heavy Duty Pipe Supports are specially designed for chilled water and cold piping systems that experience significant movement caused by expansion and contraction. It is recommended for roller hanger applications as well as trapeze and strut systems. If you need to use it outdoors, make sure to protect it from the weather. These saddles meet the MSS SP-58/69, Type 40 Shield requirements, for top-quality performance and durability.
3300E Insulated Polyisocyanurate Pipe Support

Our 3300E Insulated Polyisocyanurate Pipe Support is a 360° insulated pipe support system that is perfect for cold piping systems operating below ambient temperatures. Crafted with rigid polyisocyanurate insulation, it ensures optimal performance and efficiency.

Take the Next Step in Industrial Piping – Discover Buckaroos® Solutions

Don’t compromise on the performance and durability of your industrial piping. Make the right choice for your pipe insulation and support needs with Buckaroos®.

Our diverse range of industrial piping solutions caters to various requirements, in order to provide high structural integrity and thermal efficiency. Explore our products and find the perfect fit for your application.

Contact us today and take the first step towards extending the life and efficiency of your pipe systems!

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Carrie Powers

Carrie channels her passion for innovative solutions in the construction industry for Buckaroos. With a deep understanding of Buckaroos' leading insulated pipe support systems and insulation protection shields, Carrie ensures that building owners, engineers, and installers are well-equipped with the best tools and products. Her dedication to digital transformation and customer engagement helps Buckaroos maintain its reputation as a trusted resource for professional insulators across North America and Canada.