As trusted suppliers of insulation batts in Melbourne, we know all about modern insulation materials like glasswool. However, glasswool wasn’t always an option for homeowners throughout history, and so the question arises: what did they use instead? In this blog, we’re exploring the development of insulation throughout key historical periods, from its creation to the products we know and use today.
The Prehistoric Period
Insulation has been around for as long as people have been building homes. But in the Prehistoric times, insulation had to be made out of what was readily available. This usually meant layering materials like mud, straw and animal fur. Although these materials degraded quickly and were not long-term solutions, they helped to keep the cold wind out of peoples’ homes, since they helped to close the gaps between logs and other building materials.
Ancient Egyptians also used mud as a form of home insulation. But the key difference between that separates them from Prehistoric times is the fact that the Egyptians used the mud to create bricks. These bricks were large, thick and resembled stone – even though they were made of mud. This is what the Egyptians built their homes with. The mud bricks acted as a two-in-one: they simultaneously formed structures while holding insulative properties.
The ancient Greeks constructed their homes with cavity walls to help provide insulation. These double-walled homes contained a cavity between the inside wall and the outside wall, creating a barrier that stabilised the inside temperatures. Some sources also report that the ancient Greeks used asbestos as a form of insulation, due to the fact that it was inextinguishable and heat resistant.
When it came to using cork as insulation, the Romans had their system down pat. In fact, they helped revolutionise pipe insulation using cork. By wrapping cork around the pipes, they were able to keep the temperature of hot water steady as it travelled through the intricate pipe systems. They also used cork to insulate ice houses, and they even used it to create shoes that would keep their feet warm!
The Middle Ages
Throughout the Middle Ages, homes were typically made of stone with thatched roofs. The air pockets in straw make it a great insulator, so thatched roofs became very popular. Homeowners would also hang tapestries on the walls and lay out animal rugs to try and keep in as much heat as possible.
The Industrial Revolution
During the Industrial Revolution, steam was often used to power the machines used in manufacturing. The steam would be transported across factories by pipes, which would get extremely hot, very quickly. Thus, asbestos made a reappearance as a form of pipe insulation. Unfortunately, its adverse impact on human health was not realised until 1930, and was not banned in Australia until 2003.
In 1943, a clear link was drawn between asbestos exposure and cancer. In 1970, Australian building unions commenced industrial action to ban asbestos being used altogether. It was time to turn to a new form of insulation – and fibreglass (discovered in 1930) and cellulose (discovered in the 1940s) seemed to be the answers. Fibreglass – which we now call glasswool insulation – became extremely popular and is now the most commonly used type of insulation.
The insulation we know today
Nowadays, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to insulation. Not only do we have glasswool in the form of batts and rolls, but we also have access to a range of unique and safe-to-use insulation types (such as polyester insulation and housewraps). Today, insulation is built to last, designed to save energy, and produced sustainably.
Buy top-quality insulation batts in Melbourne
If you’re looking for insulation batts for your next project, you’ll find what you need at Insulation Essentials. We have provided quality products to the construction industry for almost two decades as an Australian owned and operated business. We’re dedicated to helping builders and owner-builders construct energy efficient buildings, and helping them find solutions that are high-quality at a low cost.
Want to find out more about our competitively-priced insulation batts in Melbourne? Don’t hesitate to give us a call on 03 8339 7111 or submit your enquiry online.