Cellulose insulation has been around for a long time. It is reputed to be the type of insulation used in Thomas Jefferson’s house the “Monticello”. However, a drift towards fiberglass was inevitable as cellulose insulation presented a lot of safety issues. In the 70s, cellulose insulation became a popular choice for loose-fill insulation as researches found a few positive points regarding cellulose insulation.
Studies show that this type of insulation might actually retard fire damage to homes because the material is so compact that there is virtually no space for oxygen to thrive. It is also a fact that aside from the borate the ammonium sulfate added to cellulose as fire-retardant and pesticide, the product is still an eco-friendly product. It takes less amount of energy to manufacture cellulose material than it takes to produce fiberglass and rock wool. This alone proves that cellulose insulation is a “green” product.
Cellulose insulation is one of the top “green” products in the construction and insulation industry. It is actually made from recycled newspaper, newsprint, cardboard and other paper that households and commercial establishments dispose of daily. Instead of being dumped into landfills and emitting harmful CO2, the paper products are converted into useful and environment-safe products. A study showed that if the current amount of paper put into landfills were to be recycled into cellulose insulation, a staggering 8 million tons of carbon dioxide emission would be saved. This number is equal to taking off the road all the cars in the states of Nevada and New Mexico.
There are different types of cellulose insulation available in today’s market. However, the most commonly used for homes is loose-fill cellulose. This type is very useful in insulating and re-insulating old cavity walls and unfinished attics. The use of insulator blower is a must as this is the pneumatic machine that blows-in the cellulose into the desired areas. An adequate insulation blower is a must so as to densely pack the cellulose into the wall cavities and attic flooring. Cellulose insulation is also recommended for insulating hard-to-reach areas.
The R-value of cellulose is roughly 3.5 per inch of thickness. Though the R-value of cellulose is high, densely packing it will raise its normal R-value. Fiberglass has an R-value of 3-4 per inch of thickness but it is a denser material so it has a better overall R-value than cellulose. Fiberglass is not susceptible to rot and moisture but cellulose loose-filling is. In case condensation seeps in through the cavity walls, there is no telling when the cellulose material will dry. However, cellulose insulation resists pests and insects because of the borates.
Low-dust cellulose insulation is an option for those who are allergic to dust. Wet-spray insulation is best used for new construction where the interior wall has not been set up. For existing cavity walls and unfinished attics, the best option is cellulose loose-fill insulation.