Insulative paints, or insulating paints, claim to use a technology where a broad spectrum thermally reflective coating is applied to a specific type of micro-spheres to block heat radiation in a much larger or broader range of thermal energy (heat) to dissipate heat rapidly. This type of coated thermally reflective material (coated micro-sphere) reduces heat transfer through the coating with 90% of solar infrared radiation and 85% of ultraviolet radiation being radiated back from the coated surface.
An "insulative" or "insulating" paint works bi-directionally (reflects heat coming from either direction toward the painted surface. An example of this would be an exterior wall of a building to which an "insulative" or "insulating" paint has been applied. Solar induced heat (direct sunlight) is reflected from the surface as well as heat (winter months) that is migrating through the wall outward toward the colder outside air. A "thermal Image" or infra-red photograph will clearly show the reduction of winter time heat loss from a home through areas that have been painted with a true "insulative" or "insulating" paint.
The ability to reflect or block heat from all sources such as fireplaces, heaters, and radiators inside a building as well as sunlight is the value of a true "insulative" or "insulating" paint. These products reduce the work (heat loading) that "resistance insulation" such a fiberglass, foam, and rock wool have to do. These are typical insulation materials used in walls as well as ceilings of buildings.
So far no manufacturer has provided any independent test results to substantiate any claims of improved performance over standard paint technology. All independent tests have shown that the proprietary formulas offer no advantages at all over plain old acrylic paint. In spite of impressive "web presence" several of these companies appear to be "ghost ships" operating in the cloak of obscurity offered by internet sales and unable to provide any local representation or product stocks.
Other types of "insulating paint"
"Insulative" or "insulating paint" is not proven by any existing scientific methodology.
Deception and fraud
There are deceptive companies that are marketing "insulating paint" for many applications who are engaged in a scam, and several such companies have been forced to cease their marketing practices after receiving warning letters from the Federal Trade Commission. These companies are merely riding the coat tails of legitimate companies engaged in the ceramic and coatings industries and are more marketing than substance. They incorporate materials such as glass spheres or fly ash into low quality paints. Scammers have been selling “insulating” paint to gullible consumers for at least 27 years. Two companies that offer insulating paint are Super Therm and Nansulate. The CCHRC (Cold Climate Housing Research Center) researchers concluded that “there was no discernible difference in the performance of the Super Therm or Nansulate in comparison to regular latex paint during the energy monitoring tests.”
Use in the space program
The areas of the space shuttle that have the highest heat loading due to friction upon the shuttle's re-entry with the earth's atmosphere are coated with a black carbon material which emits over 90% of the friction-induced heat that the shuttle experiences upon re-entry.
It should be noted that, while the ceramic technology was developed by NASA, no one has worked "with" NASA in developing products of this type or their associated coatings. Any statements to the contrary are merely marketing and misleading. The technology was considered declassified and released to the public in 1996. It is then up to the world marketplace to take the work of NASA scientists and researchers, and develop products from that point. Since 1976, NASA has featured between 40 and 50 commercial products which have benefited mankind worldwide as a result of NASA Technology in their annual premiere publication Spinoff Magazine. In 2003, after exhaustive research into how their technology was utilized, NASA selected the original 'Spinoff' industry leader.
- Holladay, Martin. "'Insulating' Paint Merchants Dupe Gullible Homeowners". Green Building Advisor. The Taunton Press, Inc. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
- "Space Shuttle Tiles". Materials Science & Engineering Education. University of Washington. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- "Spinoff disclaimer". NASA Spinoff website. NASA. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- "Home Insulation With the Stroke of a Brush". NASA spinoff.