Asbestos
Asbestos is a material that has been found harmful and cancerous to those exposed to airborne fibers. It was once commonly used as an insulation material. The last few decades have been devoted to the safe removal of asbestos insulation materials, which is referred to as asbestos abatement.
Binder
Adhesive component that stabilizes the structure of a fibrous insulation to a specific density and thickness. As temperature increases the chemical compound of binders may break down or “burn off”.
Blanket Insulation
A general term for a continuous layer of fibrous insulation material which is produced to specific density and consistent thickness. Often used to wrap large pipe or vessels or cut-to-size as a filler material.
Block Insulation
Rigid insulation which typically has suitable height, length and width to undergo further fabrication for custom applications.
Calcium Silicate
Granular, cementitious insulation which is either molded or filter-pressed into its rigid structure. Available in 2-piece or segmented pipe sections depending on size. Also available as block, scored block, and specially fabricated curved segments.
Cellular Foam
Insulation consisting of extremely small cells (or air pockets) created by a gaseous blowing agent. Preferred when the threat of moisture penetration exists due to the shared cellular walls which resist capillary action.
Cellular Glass
Insulation consisting of small cells (or air pockets) which form when a gaseous blowing agent is introduced to molten glass. Preferred when the threat of moisture penetration exists due to the shared cellular walls which deter capillary action. Often preferred over other types of cellular insulation where the application calls for durability/rigidity or a wider range of temperatures.
Cellular Insulation
Insulation consisting of extremely small cells or (air pockets) created by a gaseous blowing agent. Preferred when the threat of moisture penetration exists due to the shared cellular walls which resist capillary action.
Closed-Cell Insulation
Insulation consisting of small cells (or air pockets) created using a gaseous blowing agent. The “closed” nature of the cells comes from the fact that each individual cell shares a common cellular wall with adjacent cells. The fully interconnected cellular structure is free of any path which can transport water or moisture. Therefore, closed-cell insulation is ideal for cold systems that draw water vapor to the pipe surface where it condensates and creates problems.
Duct Board
A form of insulation board with a vapor retardant facing on both sides, or with one side faced, and the other side featuring fiberglass cloth to contain loose fibers. Duct board is a less expensive alternative to insulated metal duct. The board itself is fabricated into the shape of a rectangular duct and sealed air tight to guide the conditioned air flow.
Elastomeric Insulation
Closed-cell foam insulation which boasts varying degrees of elasticity and structural memory. Manufacturers use proprietary rubber or EPDM formulations for raw materials.
Expanded Perlite
Volcanic lava meets water and cools rapidly to form an amorphous glass called perlite. The reaction between the two components causes a relatively high amount water particles to become trapped and distributed fairly evenly inside the solid glass. When heat is reintroduced to a level around 1560°F to 1650°F, the perlite softens and its water content eventually vaporizes and escapes. The raw perlite expands (or pops like popcorn) into an extremely low density material over 7 times its initial size. The volume of the expanded perlite is largely made up of small air pockets which make it ideal for use as an industrial insulation material.
Fiberglass Insulation
Insulation which originates as molten glass. It is shaped into extremely small fibers which are forced together or spun on a mandrel in a molten state. Simultaneously, a binding agent is introduced that stabilizes and retains the configuration of the fibers so as to maintain a consistent density and dimensionality. The snaking and random arrangement of the fibers generates unique voids and air spaces which collectively resist heat transfer and give the final product its insulating value.
Insulation Batt
Typically fiberglass blanket that is sized according to a given application. This is a more common term for residential or building envelope insulation systems.
Insulation Board
Section of insulation which is mostly flat and usually no more than 4” thick. Usually intended for use in succession across a large flat surface or cut-to-size for insulating rectangular duct. It may include a factory applied facing on one or both sides.
Silica Aerogel
Insulation material which has gained popularity in recent years. The mechanical insulation industry has seen it used in industrial applications from cryogenic temperatures up to 1200°F in the form of a thin, hydrophobic blanket insulation. Common thicknesses are 5mm and 10mm. It is manufactured by replacing the liquid content of a silica gel with air. The result is a solid, nanoporous structure that is further reinforced with glass fibers.
ASJ Facing & Tape
ASJ is an acronym standing for All-Service Jacket. Traditional form features kraft paper mated with a thin layer of foil, and reinforced with glass fiber scrim. Newer innovations feature a polymer film in place of the kraft paper for better vapor retarding characteristics, aesthetics, and the ability to be wiped clean of dust buildup. ASJ tape is available from tape manufacturers with pressure-sensitive adhesive and liner paper.
ASJ/FSK Discs
Wherever a void or accidental jacket penetration may have affected ASJ or FSK facing material, these discs are utilized to repair the aesthetics and/or reinstate the vapor retardant characteristic. Their use is not as common as it once was, possibly due to the increased cladding options on the market. Also, manufacturers have started to produce these in 3” squares instead of discs by simply scoring rolls of 3” tape every 3” along the roll.
Banding
Metal strapping material most commonly used to secure metal jacketing around an insulated system or component.
Box-Rib
Specially fabricated sheet metal with grooves running parallel to add structural strength and general durability. Box rib is often used as a component of insulated panels or applied as the exterior protective jacket on tanks or vessels.
Butt-strip
A length of tape specially cut-to-size for the circumferential seal of a butt-joint (where to sections of insulation meet). Manufacturers typically include these sections of tape inside the box with their pip insulation.
Canvas
A traditional jacketing material often reinforced with a vapor retardant mastic.
Cladding
Loose term which identifies the external protective jacket of an insulation system.
Contact Adhesive
Used in the grooves of v-groove pipe insulation and allows the insulation to ship flat with open grooves. When field-formed into pipe sections, contact adhesive instantly seals and allows the insulation to maintain the rounded form.
Cupped Head Pin
Popular insulation hanger mechanism which penetrates insulation blanket or board to fasten the insulation to a metal surface by way of a capacitor discharge welder.
Cut & Curl
This is industry terminology for PVC jacketing material that has been cut to specific sizes and molded into shape by an industrial oven for quick and easy on-site installation. It saves contractors significant time and expense they would otherwise incur by field cutting and preparing the PVC jacketing. All manufacturers of PVC jacketing offer their material pre-cut and curled. Sometimes this term is used interchangeably with Cut & Roll.
Cut & Roll
This is industry terminology for metal jacketing that has been cut to specific sizes and rolled into shape for quick and easy on-site installation. It saves contractors significant time and expense they would otherwise incur by field cutting and forming metal jacketing. All manufacturers of metal jacketing offer their material pre-cut and rolled. Sometimes this term is used interchangeably with Cut & Curl.
Fab Straps
Pre-cut banding with wing seal attached to match the needs for securing a certain size or sizes of jacketing in place. Fab straps often ship along with Cut & Roll.
Facing
A general term for a film or membrane applied to the surface of insulation that may help keep the insulation particles or fibers intact, may improve water or vapor resistance, may improve aesthetics and/or act as a primary substrate surface for additional protective jacketing or cladding.
Fiberglass Blocks
Traditional pipe support mechanism for insulated systems. High-density configuration of glass fiber material provides sufficient compressive strength to maintain the proper thickness across support locations in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. These are commonly specified for insulated piping not susceptible to condensation or other water ingress.
Fiberglass Cloth
A textile composed of tightly woven strands of glass fiber material and used as a protective jacket for insulation material. Fiberglass cloth is often impregnated or coated with another type of material to enhance performance or provide additional benefits. Silicone coated fiberglass cloth is regularly used in the fabrication of removable insulation covers.
Fiberglass Fabric
A textile composed of loosely woven strands of glass fiber material often used to limit the ability for granules or non-woven glass fibers to escape from an insulation product.
Fitting Covers
Primarily made from PVC, aluminum or stainless steel, these are manufactured (or pre-fabricated) sections of jacketing uniquely shaped and sized to jacket insulated pipe fittings, valves, strainers, etc. PVC fitting covers for commercial use typically ship with corresponding sections of fiberglass blanket material known as “insulation inserts”.
FSK Facing & Tape
FSK is an acronym for Foil Scrim Kraft. It features a thin layer of foil mated with a layer of kraft paper, and reinforced with glass fiber scrim. FSK tape is available from tape manufacturers with pressure-sensitive adhesive and liner paper.
Gore
Jacketing material of any given material that is composed of multiple sections in order to conform to a unique finished shape. Gores are most common when a tank head, or fitting is too large for a manufacturer to mold into shape.
Grooved Mechanical Fitting Covers
These special fitting covers allow for use with grooved piping components.
Heat Tracing
Electrical wiring which encircles or runs beneath a section of piping to help maintain or increase temperature. Common reasons for use include process control and freeze protection. Insulation may be “carved out” or oversized to accompany heat tracing.
Inspection Plugs
These products may also be called inspection ports. They are placed strategically through a piping system at areas where water may be expected to pool if it finds its way into the system.
Insulated Pipe Support System
A fully manufactured combination of rigid insulation material, vapor retardarder (or barrier) and protective shield which allows an insulated piping system to maintain consistent insulation thickness and thermal efficiency across support locations. These are a unique support method which do not require field fabrication and are standardized around specific properties described in a published technical data sheet.
Insulating Cement
Sometimes referred to as a “finishing cement”, this material is applied to insulation to add external rigidity or to seamlessly join rigid insulation materials. It is applied wet and drys into a rigid state. Some insulating cements feature reinforcing glass fibers to preventing cracking.
Insulation Hanger
A general term for a mechanism that secures insulation to a distinct location on surface which requires it. Often, an insulation hanger includes a pin or stud that penetrates the insulation, is welded or adhered to the mechanical system and locked in place with a plate or washer on the outside of the insulation.
Insulation Protection Saddle
Also known as insulation protection shields, these are commonly manufactured to a 180° arc and placed directly beneath an insulated pipe to provide protection from the clevis hanger or other support surface below.
Jacketing
A general term for the protective exterior layer of a mechanical insulation system. Typical jacketing raw materials include PVC, aluminum, or stainless steel. Sometimes the terms Cladding and Jacketing are used interchangeably.
Lagging
A dated term in the U.S. but still common in other countries. Depending on where it is used, it may refer to jacketing, metal jacketing, or both the insulation and jacket together.
Laminate
A combination of membranes combined in multiply plies where each serves a purpose necessary to help accomplish the given final result. For instance, a zero perm vapor barrier membrane may need reinforcing strength to hold up in a given application.
Mass Loaded Vinyl
A weighted textile often used for sound attenuation.
Mastic
A coating that can be applied with a trowel to the exterior surface of an insulated system or component. Mastics dry into a mostly-hardened form and serve as a vapor retarder and weather barrier to varying degrees. When some moisture is allowed to permeate the mastic, it is commonly referred to as a breather mastic or weather barrier. Those mastics which are rated at zero permeability are referred to as vapor barriers.
Metal Mesh
Also known as “chicken wire”, this material helps secure insulation in place before or without the use of jacketing. It is sometimes used to sandwich blanket insulation together, allowing for a more structurally stable insulation to be wrapped around large tanks or vessels.
Moisture Barrier
A polymeric coating applied to metal jacketing. It sits between the jacketing and the insulation material to minimize the risk of internal trapped moisture leading to corrosion.
Safety Edge/Hem
This term refers to the longitudinally exposed edge of aluminum or stainless steel jacketing that has been uniformly folded over by 1/2” to protect personnel who may come in contact with the sharp edge. It is common for specifiers to require the Safety Edge for stainless applications and also increasing their call for it on aluminum systems. Manufacturers have innovated their products in such a way that they can offer this safer version without increasing the cost to the end user.
SSL
SSL is an acronym for self-sealing lap. This most commonly refers to the overlapping facing or jacketing material protruding past the longitudinal seam of a section of pipe insulation which has factory or fabricator applied double sided tape. Installers are able to peel away a liner and adhere the lap in place to properly seal the system.
Thermal Hanger Shield Insert
A non-specific term for any type of rigid insulation material which allows an insulated piping system to maintain consistent insulation thickness and thermal efficiency across support locations. These are often field-fabricated to a 180° arc and used in conjunction with an insulation protection saddle.
Vapor Barrier Membrane
A membrane or laminate that is rated at zero permeability to water vapor.
Vapor Retarder Membrane
A membrane or laminate which is used to water vapor from entering or exiting an insulated system. Some vapor transmission is possible.
Wing Seals
Small metal components pinched together to secure banding into place after it has been tightened around jacketing or fittings.
Wood Blocks
Traditional pipe support mechanism for insulated systems. Wood material such as pine provides sufficient compressive strength to maintain the proper thickness across support locations in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. These are commonly specified for insulated piping not susceptible to condensation or other water ingress. This type of support does not meet the 25/50 flame spread/smoke developed per ASTM E-84.
Beading
In relation to a metal fitting or jacketing, Beading describes the metal forming process which creates a small uniform groove that spanning along or around an edge. This groove facilitates in both alignment and the sealing process for the piece of metal.
Bore Coating
A coating applied to the inside of a section or rigid pipe insulation which protects the insulation from erosion that might occur as a result of system vibration or thermal expansion and contraction of the pipe.
Butt-Joint
A general term describing the point where two separate sections of insulation material meet. Depending on application, butt-joints may require a sealing mechanism to protect from moisture ingress.
Lacing Anchors
Often sewn into removable covers in strategic places to allow for tight closure, yet also enable reuse after scheduled maintenance.
Lag
A more traditional term for the process of installing mechanical insulation. The term is still fairly common outside of the U.S.
Nested Insulation
Nesting occurs with applications require insulation thicknesses that exceed a manufacturers largest thickness option. (For instance, if a project calls for 4” pipe insulation thickness and the largest available is 3”, a contractor will “nest” a 2” thick section of pipe insulation inside of a 2” thick outer layer.)
Personell Protection
The idea that insulation is applied to a hot pipe to reduce the surface temperature to a level that is safe for human contact. There is not a standard defining the maximum acceptable surface temperature. However, 140°F is a popular limit that many industrial facilities require in their standards.
Sound Attenuation
Insulation can be used to reduce or limit the transmission of sound waves in a similar fashion as does for heat. As sound waves attempt to penetrate through an insulation material, the fibers, cells or granules obstruct the anticipated path and therefore reduce the resulting sound waves which successfully make it through.
Stucco Embossed
An aesthetic option available for metal jacketing and certain weather barrier membranes which features non-symmetrical dimples of only a few millimeters in width and depth. For metal jacketing, there is some degree of added structural rigidity or increased resistance from bending. It is sometimes preferred for aesthetic blending with existing oxidized metal or because it disguises blemishes and imperfections. Without the stucco embossed pattern, metal jacketing would typically be referred to as smooth.

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