When it comes to insulation, the options can be overwhelming. Some people are looking for insulation that will decrease their carbon footprint and increase their R-value, while others may need something that has an environmentally based certification or is free of asbestos.
Insulating your home can be an expensive process, but luckily there are many options out there. You can opt for natural materials like wool or recycled foam insulation.
What is the Difference Between Beadboard and Foam Insulation?
Beadboard insulation is made of rigid foam panels that are sandwiched together to form a thick, solid wall. Foam insulation is an air-tight material that creates a space in the wall cavity.
Foam vs. Spray Cellulose Insulation
- Foam insulation is a type of insulation that is made from polyurethane or polystyrene. It is most often used in the construction of new buildings, but it can also be used for retrofitting old buildings.
- Spray foam insulation is a type of insulation that has been sprayed into place. It can be applied to any building, including existing structures. The best thing about spray foam insulation is that it does not have to be installed on the interior or exterior walls of the building.
- Cellulose is the main component of plant membranes, including cotton and paper. This makes up roughly 30% of a tree’s weight. Cellulose insulation is the original type of insulation and can be added to enclosed walls or unfinished attic floors in loose-fill, dense-packed, or wet spray form.
Made of recycled newsprint with about 75-85% recycled content, cellulose insulation is often heavily treated with flame retardants such as boric acid or ammonium sulfate. These chemicals are flame retardants and can help reduce pests without causing any harmful side effects to humans.
Cellulose insulation costs the least and has the most recycled material. It also has an issue with settling up to 20%, which can create gaps, needs to stay dry, and is heavier than fiberglass. But on most building projects, these conditions aren’t an issue.
Cellulose Insulation is environmentally friendly. It’s free of harmful substances such as formaldehyde, asbestos, mineral wool & paper fibers.
Cellulose Insulation redirects hundreds of Tonnes of paper from the landfill each year. It also works as a sound reducer, decreasing the amount of sound transferred through walls.
A type of cellulose fiber (cotton), denim insulation has the same benefits as recycled paper. Recycled denim insulation is made of scraps and clippings from the nearby denim manufacturing facility. It can be used in place of fiberglass or mineral wool batts between open roof rafters, ceiling joists, and wall studs.
This environmentally friendly insulation has a sound insulation level of about 30%. This rate is much higher than the norm, which means it’ll ensure you have considerably less noise transmitting through your walls.
On top of all this, it provides a high level of thermal performance- between R-13 and R-30.
For fire safety, boron is added to provide Class A protection and EPA-registered anti-fungal products for insulation against mold, mildew, and pests
Unlike other insulating materials, cork is a semi-rigid material made of 100% natural cork. Cork is a material that’s made from the bark of oaks that reach a minimum age of 18 years.
It is completely natural and renewable, as removing the bark does not harm the tree and will regenerate in time. Harvesting can happen every nine years throughout the tree’s life of about 200 years.
Cork is a natural insulator, due to the air pockets between each piece of cork. It boasts an R-value of 3-4 (depending on thickness) and is sustainable.
Blown-In Fiberglass vs. Loose-Fill Fiberglass
A fiberglass is a reliable option in the building industry. It is strong and lightweight, trapping pockets of air that regulate temperature and insulate from the sound transmission.
Several estimates show that by using fiberglass insulation, energy costs can be significantly reduced, on average by more than 40%.
This spongy and malleable material is fire resistant, low-weight, and has been used by the building industry as insulation for decades.
There are some major risks associated with using fiberglass insulation, and these include:
- Particles from the environment may come into contact with your skin, become lodged in pores, and cause irritation or itching.
- Airborne particles becoming inhaled, cause coughing, nosebleeds, and even worse cases – where they lodge in the lungs. This can lead to various health risks.
Blown-in fiberglass insulation
- is installed by blowing the material into the walls, ceilings, and floors of a building. It is typically installed in a continuous layer from the bottom of a wall or floor to the top.
- is more expensive than loose-fill because it requires installation by an HVAC technician or professional contractor.
Loose-fill fiberglass insulation
- is a type of insulating material which is blown into cavities in walls, ceilings, and floors with an air compressor.
- can be installed by homeowners themselves with some basic knowledge about how to use an air compressor and how to cut holes for outlets, switches, and other fixtures.
The ease with which fibers can become loose from the batting is high, so any disturbance can cause particles to become airborne. It’s suggested that you dampen the insulation before removing old batting.
Fiberglass has been a time-tested, reliable insulation option for a long time, and has recently been given another upgrade with advancements in technology.
If you’d like to add environmentally friendly insulation material to your project, there are now fiberglass options for you.
Mineral Wool insulation is made of inorganic compounds, not organic ones like wool. It’s created by drawing or spinning molten mineral slag fibers until they are completely coated in the material.
Widely used in Europe and Canada, studies show that it traps air, creating
exceptional thermal properties that decrease the amount of energy used by the building.
Mineral wool insulation is versatile and can be installed in almost any building. Thanks to above 90% mineral content, it is effective against heat loss, sound absorption, and dampness. It also requires no maintenance.
When it comes to building insulation, the options can be overwhelming, particularly for owners who want to decrease their carbon footprint, increase their R-value, qualify for environmentally based certifications, or are concerned about asbestos.
Luckily, the vast number of insulation types means that there are plenty of alternatives out there, from natural materials to recycled options.
Mycelium insulation is created from the fungus that binds together to make an R-value of about 3 per inch, similar to cork.
These blocks are made by intertwining the root-like filaments of a fungus in controlled conditions. It’s only been used for a little while but already people are finding new ways to use it.
Mycelium, the alternative to polystyrene insulation, is sustainable and has several benefits when it comes to heat resistance. Furthermore, its cost is low when brands like Ecovative Design are getting in on the trend.
The catch is that it isn’t quite ready to be used as insulation. Nonetheless, it has the potential to be relevant in the building industry in the next decade or so.
For some homeowners, the best alternative might be to return to nature. With wool insulation, the natural, renewable resource is not only VOC-free–amino acids in the wool form a bond with formaldehyde that filters it out.
Wool batt insulation is installed similarly to materials like other malleable, but without the need for protection. The R-value it provides is 3.6 per inch and the loose-fill contains a comparable value of 4.3 per inch
Both batt and blow-in wool insulation provide sound absorption and transmission
Wool insulations don’t allow mold to grow when it gets wet or allow condensation when in contact with the surface. It does absorb and release moisture, but the location of the building should be given special attention in terms of wool insulation purchase.
Conclusion – Which Green Insulation Option Should You Choose?
In conclusion, as the homeowner, it is important to find the insulation that best suits your needs. In some cases, you may want to consider all-natural insulation options such as wool or cotton insulation.
Check out our spray foam insulation in New Orleans for more.
MORE FROM STAR SPRAY FOAM
Star Spray Foam is proud to provide affordable, efficient insulation services. We have built a reputation in the NOLA area for efficient, high-quality insulation at an affordable cost.
We use quality materials to maximize the amount of heat retained inside your home – and we install them for you hassle-free. Contact us today!