Cotton Insulation & Cellulose Insulation Explained

Insulation is a part of your home that is rarely seen or discussed, but in actuality is vastly important.  Properly insulating your South Texas home can keep your utility bill low which is great for your wallet and the environment.  Modern insulation can be made from just about anything including newspaper, cotton, wool, and artificial materials such as chemical foams.  More environmentally friendly options are on the market too, recycled-content insulation and formaldehyde-free are just a few of those available.  This post is part of a series about insulation, if you haven’t read our previous posts on insulation, you can read about general insulation FAQs here and about foam and fiberglass insulation here.

Cotton Insulation

Cotton insulation is another material used for home insulation, it has an R-Value of 3.4 per inch.  It typically is made up of about 85% recycled cotton with 15% made of plastic fibers.  This material has been treated with borate which is issued to repel insects and as a flame retardant.  Some companies use recycled blue jean or other textile material leftover from the production of blue jeans which means that less energy goes into production of the cotton insulation.  It can be made into batts or used as loose filling.  Cotton insulation is non-toxic and can be installed without any extra protection gear.  It typically runs about 15-20% more expensive than the more common fiberglass insulation.

Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation is made of 80-90% recycled newspaper and cardboard, it has an R-Value of 3.6-3.8 per inch.  It can be sprayed as a wet material into open wall cavities and allowed to dry, or dry shredded and used as loose fill with netting.  It is typically treated with boric acid as a flame retardant and insect repellant.  Though cellulose insulation is considered eco-friendly, some people are experience adverse effects caused by the newsprint ink outgassing.  If you live in a humid environment, the cellulose is prone to absorbing moisture which can lead to the growth of mold.

As always, when considering what material to use as insulation in your home, it’s important to bring your custom home builder into the conversation.  They will have years of experience to help guide you as to the best choice for your area.