Cotton insulation is a green building material that requires less energy to produce and is far more renewable than its largest competitor: fiberglass. Even those homeowners without environmental concerns are often won over by this product that has better acoustical properties and is easier to work with than its competitors.
Cotton insulation may be made of cotton grown for the purpose of insulation or from scraps of cotton cloth or scraps of recycled cotton. Cotton insulation made from the fabric scraps from denim jeans gained prominence because of its distinctive blue color. This cotton denim insulation required that the scraps be cleaned, made into fibers, mixed with a flame retardant and rolled into batts.
Advantages of Using Cotton Insulation
The advantages of using cotton insulation, especially those products manufacturered from denim scraps from an environmental standard is clear, but its importance from a human health standard is also compelling. Anyone who has ever worked with itchy fiberglass insulation can see the advantages of using cotton insulation; even wearing a facemask isn’t necessary when installing it.
Cotton Insulation: Safer Than Fiberglass?
Cotton insulation has also received some accolades as a safer product than fiberglass insulation. Not only are the fumes produced from burning cotton insulation non-toxic when compared to standard fiberglass, but cotton insulation might also protect structural members better. Tests indicate that cotton insulation, which is denser than fiberglass, cuts down on the amount of oxygen within the wall cavity, reducing the chance of the fire seriously burning the lumber in the wall.
Cotton insulation also does not have the formaldehyde off gassing problems that occur with other forms of insulation, like fiberglass. There is also some indication that cotton insulation performs better than fiberglass when the temperatures between the inside and outside of your home are greatly disparate. Cotton also has better sound dampening qualities than foam or fiberglass.
In addition to all of these advantages, the R-value for cotton insulation is comparable to that of fiberglass. For this reason, it can be substituted for fiberglass insulation without any alterations to floor plans or living spaces. Better yet, many contractors are offering labor discounts to install cotton insulation because it is easier to work with.
The largest obstacle in using cotton insulation in your home is availability. Many home improvement centers only carry cotton insulation as a special order material, which will require some planning ahead. However, the obvious advantages of this material are well worth a few weeks wait for the do it yourself home owner.
I have a lot of hands-on experience in the home construction industry, with a good deal of experience in sustainable building. I’m mostly interested in home restoration and home renovations.