If you’re planning to invest in insulation for your house, you might’ve already come across an innovative alternative insulation material that’s gaining traction in the market: Denim Insulation.
Denim insulation is high-performance insulation made from recycled denim jeans that helps lower energy bills and enhance thermal performance. It comes in standard-sized perforated batts and is suitable for wall studs, ceiling joists, open roof rafters, attics, and crawl spaces.
If you wish to use denim insulation, it’s crucial to know the relevant information, including the pros and cons, to decide if recycled denim insulation is the right choice for your home.
Read our comprehensive guide about denim insulation to become informed.
What Is a Denim Insulation?
Denim insulation, also known as natural cotton fiber insulation, is high-performance insulation made from recycled scraps and clippings of denim jeans.
When old denim is discarded, it’s sent to a recycling facility where any metal like buttons, zips, studs, or fastenings are removed. The denim is then shredded and processed into a loose-fiber form resembling cotton candy and treated with a borate-based flame retardant to resist burning and mold growth.
Denim insulation comes in perforated batts with standard sizes designed to fit between wall studs, ceiling joists, and open roof rafters. It’s also often pressed into mats and cut or rolled in sizes. It’s also available in loose fill for blown-in denim insulation, which is suitable in existing walls, attics, and crawl spaces.
What’s the R-Value of Denim Insulation?
The R-value of denim insulation comes in R-13, R-19, R-21, and R-30. The denim insulation R-13 is usually for two-by-four stud walls, and the R-19 applies for two-by-six walls. Moreover, like fiberglass and cellulose, denim insulation has an average R-value of 3.5 per inch.
What can decrease its R-value is when the denim batt insulation is compressed into a roll for packaging or into a cavity, as the air pockets inside that create its insulating properties are squashed. Incorrect cuts of denim insulation can also lower its effectiveness, causing heat loss.
Advantages of Denim Insulation
Denim insulation typically contains 85% to 100% recycled material, and its manufacturing process requires less energy than fiberglass, making it eco-friendly insulation. Also, you can repurpose and recycle denim insulation, making it sustainable while extending its usable life. A local recycling center is where you can recycle denim insulation.
Since denim insulation is treated with borate-based flame retardant, it’s typically Class A fire-rated with a flame spread rating of 0 to 25, and smoke produced between 0 to 450. It’s fire retardant that helps slow the spread of flames.
The denim insulation is treated with chemicals that help prevent mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria growth. It also helps protect against pests.
Enhanced Safety and Indoor Air Quality
Unlike fiberglass, denim insulation doesn’t contain volatile organic compounds or formaldehyde, providing better indoor air quality. It also doesn’t release fibers that may irritate the respiratory tract or skin, making breathing safer.
Better Sound Insulation
Denim insulation sound absorption is higher, with 30% acoustic ratings, than traditional insulation materials. This helps trap and isolate sound waves to control and reduce noise.
Better Thermal Performance and Reduced Energy Bills
Denim insulation is available in R-13, R-19, R-21, and R-30, resulting in lower energy bills because of the better thermal performance of your HVAC system. It also helps maintain a comfortable and consistent temperature at home.
Disadvantages Of Denim Insulation
Generally, denim insulation is 10% more expensive than fiberglass insulation. It starts at $1 per square foot, while fiberglass ranges from $0.30 to $1.50 per square foot. In addition, the installation of denim glass can cost twice as much fiberglass with the same insulation properties.
Requires A Vapour Barrier
Installing denim insulation requires a vapor barrier to prevent the denim from getting wet, which could cause it to compress and have uneven installation. For denim attic insulation in cooler climates, it’s recommended to use a vapor barrier. However, you may need to refer to local building codes first, especially for warmer temperatures.
Adding a vapor barrier to denim insulation installation may also increase the installation price.
Not Widely Available
Although denim insulation is available in home improvement stores, it usually comes in limited quantities. In addition, some denim insulation brands have been discontinued, making them more difficult to find.
Alternatives to Denim Insulation
Here are other alternative insulation materials for denim insulation.
Fiberglass and denim insulation have an average of R-3.5 per inch. Both are environmentally friendly and fire and mold-resistant. However, fiberglass is less dense than denim insulation.
Mineral wool/Rockwool is made of geothermal molten rock, giving it a higher thermal efficiency than denim insulation. It provides an R-value of 3.0 to 3.3 per inch. However, Mineral wool is more expensive, costing around $1.40 and $2.10 per square foot.
Like denim insulation, cellulose offers an average of R-3.5 per inch. Also, cellulose is made of recycled paper, making it eco-friendly. However, cellulose is more expensive, about $1.20 per square foot.
Hemp insulation is made of hemp wool fiber, making it eco-friendly. Like denim insulation, it has an average R-value of about R-3.5 per inch. However, hemp is more expensive, usually costing about $1.35 to $3.10 per square foot.
Soybean is a type of foam insulation made of soybean oil and sprayed onto walls. It’s more
pricey compared with denim insulation, about$1.50 to $3 per square foot.
How To Install Denim Insulation
Before installation, wearing protective equipment, such as goggles, gloves, and a dust mask, is still important, especially when cutting, even though denim insulation isn’t toxic. In addition, check with your local building code if a vapor barrier is required in your area.
You must also measure the installation area to ensure the denim batt insulation fits perfectly. If it doesn’t, you can simply cut using heavy-duty shears or tear it if it’s perforated.
To install the denim batt insulation in walls, simply friction fit between the studs, tucking it to secure firmly. Next, cut the insulation around any obstruction or opening, ensuring less airflow.
Also, refrain from pressing the insulation too hard to avoid gaps at the edges that could reduce its R-value. In addition, you use a nail or staple to ensure the batt doesn’t fall to the wall’s bottom cavity.
For ceiling and denim attic insulation, use a mesh or wire to secure the denim batt to the joists and to ensure it remains in place. Moreover, use a mesh or wire to secure the denim batt insulation to crawl space cavities or floor joists for crawl spaces or floors.
Where Can I Buy Denim Insulation?
You can directly buy denim insulation from denim insulation manufacturers like Bonded Logic Inc., which owns the manufacturing process patents and produces the well-known ultra-touch denim insulation. However, UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation is no longer available because it has been discontinued.
You can also buy denim insulation in home improvement stores and authorized local denim insulation distributors like Home Depot or Lowes. There are also denim insulation distributors by state, including Acoustical Surfaces. Inc., SoundAway, ElementalGreen®, and Badgerland Supply, Inc., among others.
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