Cellulose insulation is made with recyclable newspaper nowadays. Dust is ground and removed by machines, a fire hydrant is added and proper installation of the finished product is guided by government standards. Cardboard, cotton, straw, sawdust, hemp and corncob are some of the many types of cellulosic materials used in the past. Today, insulating a typical 1,500 sq. ft. ranch-style home with cellulose recycles as much newsprint as an individual will consume in 40 years.
The use of cellulose began in the 1950s and came into general use in the U.S. after an oil embargo in the early 70s, thus significantly increasing energy cost. Only a few years later, claims that the rapid growth of the cellulose market led to improper treatment with fire retardant led to a sharp decrease in the use of cellulose and a stigma the industry is still trying to overcome. The use of cellulose is currently increasing because studies have shown it can protect a structure from fire damage better than fiberglass and it is the most environmental form of insulation.
Each loose-fill cellulose product is best for different parts of a structure and for different reasons. The following are four major types:
- Dry Cellulose (Loose-Fill) – Blown into wall holes during retrofits or blown into a new wall construction with the use of temporary retainers or netting. Dense-pack installation by placing pressure on the cavity to further reduce settling and minimize gaps is done by an experienced installer.
- Spray-Applied Cellulose (Damp-Spray) – Used for new wall construction. This form requires expensive equipment that adds water to the cellulose while spraying it. Sometimes, installers mix in small amounts of liquid adhesive or the added water activates a dry adhesive present in the cellulose. Damp-spray installation seals walls better but requires a minimum dry time of 24 hours, or until a 25 percent or less moisture level is reached.
- Stabilized Cellulose – Ideal for attic and roof insulation, especially with sloped roofs. The application of a small amount of water during installation acts as an adhesive. Less cellulose is needed and the overall weight of the product on the ceiling drywall is less, thus helping in the prevention of possible sag.
- Low-Dust Cellulose – During any form of installation, a nuisance amount of dust is emitted, therefore, simple dust masks are recommended. Low-dust cellulose has a small percentage of oil or dust dampener added. It is recommended for homes where someone is sensitive to newsprint or paper dust, though new dust will not be created after installation is complete.
At Henges Insulation St. Louis, we install all these forms of cellulose. We have chosen to install GreenFiber’s Cocoon cellulose insulation because they have the most technologically-advanced and proven manufacturing facilities in the United States.
Benefits of Cellulose Insulation
- Made from 85 percent paper fiber, at least 80 percent post-consumer
- Contributes residential LEED points
- Can reuse excess from job site
- Fills around wiring, plumbing, electrical boxes and odd framing dimensions
- Inconsistent, non-uniform stud spacing is not a problem
- Two-three times denser than batts
- Decreases air infiltration 36 percent more than traditional insulation
- Maintains a more consistent R-value through a greater range of temperatures than fiberglass
- Approved as superior sound control material for homes located in airport flight paths
- Not manufactured with any formaldehyde, asbestos, mineral fiber or fiberglass
- Requires little energy to produce
- Protects structures from fire damage
- R-value 3.7/inch
- Won’t permit convection
Cons of Cellulose Insulation
- Moisture added during installation
- 48 hours minimum dry time suggested
- Chemicals added
- Messy to install
- Requires highly-skilled technicians and expensive equipment for proper installation