Insulation Comparison

Cellulose Insulation vs. Other Insulations – A Comparison

TypeInstallation MethodsR-value per inch (RSI/m)Raw MaterialsPollution From ManufactureIndoor Air Quality ImpactsEmbodied Energy from Manufacture
Stabilized CelluloseLoose-fill, wall-spray (damp), dense pack, stabilized3.6-4.0Old Newspapers, telephone directories, borates, ammonium sulfateNegligibleLow-dust formula reduces irritants. Dust mask required for installationVery Low
Open-celled, polyurethane foam Spray-in cavity-fill3.6-4.6Fossil fuels and soybeans; water as blowing agent; non-brominated flame retardantHigh energy use during manufactureDust mask required for installationHigh
FiberglassBatts, Loose-fill, semi-rigid board3.0-4.0Silica sand, limestone, boron, recycled glass, PF resin or acrylic resinFormaldehyde emissions and high energy use during manufactureFibers can be irritantsHigh
Mineral WoolLoose-fill, batts, semi-rigid or rigid board2.8-3.7Iron ore blast furnace slag, natural rock, PF binderFormaldehyde emissions and high energy use during manufactureFibers can be irritantsHigh
CottonBatts3.0-3.7Cotton and polyester mill scraps (especially denim)NegligibleConsidered safeHigh
Closed-cell spray polyurethane foamsSpray-in cavity-fill or spray-on roofing5.8-6.8Fossil fuels; HFC-24.5fa blowing agent; non-brominated flame retardantHigh energy use during manufacture; global warming potential from HFC blowing agentQuite toxic during installation (respirators or supplied air required); allow several days of airing out prior to occupancyVery High

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