Non-Toxic Insulation: A Complete Guide

Updated October 2019 

There are so many excellent choices for non-toxic, healthy, green insulation, there should be one to fit everyone's needs.

There are many new options that claim to be "green" "soy-based" or are formaldehyde-free - this does not mean that they are VOC-free or safe. Look very closely at what's in it. Flame retardants and mildewcides are not counted as VOCs.

On top of that, certifications are not that useful: almost every insulation now qualifies as GreenGuard Gold, which for sensitive folks is not enough information.

The post includes the best of green non-toxic insulation and includes a cost comparison for 2019.

I recommend all of the products here, some products have affiliate programs and some do not. Upon purchase, I earn a small commission though affiliate links at no extra cost to you.

For assistance with choosing the best insulation for your needs, sensitivities, and budget, you can contact me for a one-on-one consult. 


Options Used in Wood Framed Houses


1. Fiberglass 


Fiberglass is the most common insulation used in standard stick framed houses in Canada and the US. This option has improved a lot in recent years and specific brands have become extremely low in VOCs.

Formaldehyde-Free Brands:

EcoBatt by Knauf is recommend by a number of extremely sensitive folks who could not tolerate polystyrene, cotton or wool. The SDS claims an "inert polymer bonding agent derived from plant starches" and fiberglass.

No other materials are listed (but anything less than 1% does not need to be listed such as a possible mildewcide and or preservative in this case, see more below). They do claim formaldehyde-free.

Owens Corning Ecotouch Fiberglass insulation has GreenGuard Children and Schools certification which was the best GreenGuard certification for low emissions (now rolled into GreenGuard Gold). The binder is formaldehyde-free and "made from widely available plant materials" according to the company.

Certainteed Fiberglass insulation is also made with a plant-based binder.

Johns Manville Fiberglass insulation is GreenGuard Gold and uses a formaldehyde-free acrylic binder.

What are BioBinders?

We don't know much about what biobinders actually are, but by looking at this patent you can tell that they look mostly safe. However it's hard to zero in on what it is. There are some preservatives there and when they use a biobased binder it looks like they are adding a biocide as well.

Are there Flame Retardants in Fiberglass?

Fiberglass insulation is made with boron but I don't see any other flame retardant added, especially in the batts that do not have paper backing, and the spray in type.

Blow in fiberglass that I have looked at recently contain borates, soda ash, lime, siloxanes/silicates/silane, mineral oil and an unknown "anti static additive". Owens Corning unbonded loose fill, and Knauf Jetstream Ultra look similar. A client reported a "strong smell" from JM Climate Pro Fibgerglass blow in, but I don't see the ingredients for that one, so I cannot compare it to the other two.

R-Value

3.5 inches is R-13-R-14.

Cost USD (2019)

Knaff Ecobatt is 0.49/sq ft and you can buy it at Home Depot or through your contractor.

2. Mineral Wool


Mineral wool is my top choice for batt insulation. It is in widespread use by builders who build green or high quality homes. It is easy to source in North America.

Brands

Rockwool (formerly Roxul) is the most common and accessible mineral wool insulation. They have a new version called AFB, that does not contain formaldehyde, but it has a proprietary and unlisted ingredients and ammonia (here is the label). It's also much harder to source.

The standard Rockwool ComforBatt does contain phenol formaldehyde which will cure completely and quite quickly if it's not already cured by the time it gets to you. You could try both options, but there are few situations in which the regular Rockwool does not work for someone.

It is mould resistant. I did get a rash from handling it where it contacted my skin but I did not pick up a smell/offgassing of formadehyde.

Thermafiber by Owens Corning is a brand that has a formaldehyde-free line (you will see the letters FF) this usually has to be special ordered through a store.

American Rockwool is a brand which is harder to source. The company claims no chemical additives or binders, and that would be a bonus for the extremely sensitive. They also have a blown in option.

Other Info

An easy way to cut through mineral wool is with an electric carving knife.

This insulation has good soundproofing qualities. The Safe n Sound version can be used on interior walls for soundproofing between rooms.

R-Value

3.5 inches is R-15.

Cost USD (2019) 

$0.95/ sq ft for Rockwool (Comfortbatt, 3.5 inch)

Where to Buy

You can find Rockwool and Thermafiber at hardware stores across the US and Canada or through your contractor.

3. Wool Batt and Blow-In


Less common and more expensive, wool batting might be the next insulation batting to consider if you don't do well with fiberglass or mineral wool.

Brands

Jeff of Safe Shelters has looked into Oregon Shepard batts and found that they add boric acid, sodium pentaborate decahydrate and a proprietary formulation using a natural protein.

Black Mountain adds recycled polyester and borate to their NatuWool which is 95% wool with 5% polyester binder and is treated with borax.

Blow-in

The purest options here will be the blow-in wool insulation. Some extremely sensitive folks have done well with Oregon Shepard blow-in and another extremely sensitive person found Havelock loose fill had "no smell". I tested Havelock and found that it did have a very wooly smell. The natural oils of the wool have an odour that may not be okay for many sensitive people, although it is not an additive or chemical smell.

While none of them claim organic certification, wool is one of the purest options. As for borax/boric acid, I'm mostly concerned about inhalation, ingestion and absorption through touching eyes and mouth. I'm not very concerned about it once it's behind the wall.

R-Value

Wool in batts has R-13.7 in 3.5 inches
Blow in densepack R-value: can be 15.3 in 3.5 inches

Cost USD (2019)

Havelock Loose Fill is $1.97/sq ft
Havelock Batts is $1.62/sq ft

Where to Buy

Buy through local green building supply shops or ship from the closest one.

4. Recycled Cotton Batt


Ultratouch Insulation is what I used in my chemical-free tiny home. If you rule out fiberglass and mineral wool, this would be something else to consider that is low cost.

It used to be made from new denim scraps but they have moved to recycled denim. It does contain boric and ammonium sulfate and an olefin binding fiber (similar to rayon).

You have to test for your own sensitivities. I became more sensitive to fabric treatments after I moved in to my house (and I had the type made from new scraps).

Other Info

Wear a mask while cutting and installing as it does get extremely dusty when working with it.

R-Value 

For the 3.5'' thickness, you get an R-Value of 13

Cost USD (2019) 

$0.79/sq ft

Where to Buy

This had to be special ordered when I built my house. Now, you can buy it at Lowes and Home Depot.


5. Hemp 


Hemp insulation is the newest alternative insulation in the North American market. It's been used for much longer in Europe. I think it is very promising. It's harder to source and more expensive than some of the other options in this category, but it could be really great for someone who wants something natural.

There are a few companies manufacturing it now:

One of the first ones was Thermo-Hemp in Europe.

NatuHemp Semi Rigid panels are available in the UK and Canada. Canadian NatuHemp, which can be shipped throughout Canada and the US, is made of 88% hemp fiber and 12% polyester fiber, with no chemical binders and no off-gassing (they claim).

Sunstrand was in the early stages of production in 2018, of producing hemp insulation batts for the general market in the US. The binder is unspecified/proprietary.

Companies have been coming and going in this industry.

Ask them what they add to it, apart from hemp: alternate fibers, binders, flame retardants and if it's organic. And always test a sample first!

R-Value

It is R-13 for 3.5 inches

Cost USD (2019)

NatuHemp is $1.80/sq ft
Sunstrand batt is $1/sq ft

Where to Buy

Contact the companies on where to source it.

Blown-In Insulation


1. Cellulose


Recycled cellulose is an option often slated for those with chemical sensitivity. It is a blown-in insulation made with recycled newspaper that contains a fire repellent like boric.

Newspapers are made with soy-based inks but they still contain many other chemicals in the inks apart from soy and there are additives to the insulation.

Dense packed cellulose is often used in Passive Houses, which have great attention to details around moisture management and green healthy materials.

Brands

Lowes and Home Depot both carry the Greenfiber brand which is 85% recycled newspaper. It contains boric acid, sodium polyborate, sodium tetraborate pentahydrate, amylopectin and mineral oil.

Home Depot also carries Ecocell, which makes batts that are a mixed of cellulose and cotton. It also contains PET plastic, very small amounts of boric acid, as well as sodium poly borate and ammonium sulfate. You can find this insulation without ammonium sulfate - that may be special order.

Rona in Canada carries Weathershield brand.

R-Value 

13.3 for 3.5 inches

Cost USD (2019)

$0.32/sq ft

2. AirKrete


AirKrete is a cementitious blown in insulation that claims to be VOC-free. It has passed the "sleep next to it test" of many a MCS patient.

The company, however, has declined to participate the industry standard VOC test as well as the proper R-value test, so there is some doubt around this product's claims.

We don't know what the undisclosed 2% of this product's ingredients are, but many with severe chemical sensitivities have chosen to go with this option and done well with it.

Because it is a foam, it will get into all the cracks and crevices and therefore give you a higher "real life" R-Value than the batts, although people have reported shrinking, crumbling and trouble drying. Here is the source for the concerns.

R-Value

R-13 for 3.5 inches

Cost USD

Around $2.25/sq ft including installation costs

Where to Source

You would have to check to see if you have a certified installer in your area before proceeding.

3. Real wool, mineral wool, and fiberglass can be blown in as well. Brand names in those respective sections. 


Exterior Insulation for Houses 



1. Styrofoam/Rigid Foam

i. Polyisocyanurate "Polyiso" is one of the most common types of exterior insulation. 

Typical current blowing agents for polyiso are CO2 and pentane. There is some "thermal drift", meaning the blowing agents offgas over time. The offgassing is extremely minimal.

This is going to become a very common insulation as codes move to require exterior insulation.

Flame retardants are a bigger concern than trace pentane. The most common flame retardant is TCPP. It's best to look for brands that use a phosphate based FR instead. Though the foil does block the FR, the edges are unsealed and it will never be perfect.

Brands

Johns Manville Foil Faced Polyiso has been the most popular brand among those who are sensitive. But they have discontinued Energy 3E which was the one made without TCPP (it used organo-phosphorus FR).

GAF polyiso EnergyGuard-NH uses a halogen-free flame retardant (which is phosphate based, like Energy 3E was). "Unlike TCPP, the flame retardant becomes part of the polymer backbone of the insulation—so there is no free flame retardant that can leach out, according to GAF’s director of sustainability Martin Grohman. TCPP, by contrast, is not chemically bonded to the polyiso polymer, so it can more readily escape." Source

Sheets of polyiso by these brands (and others) can be used as exterior insulation or you might find polyiso in the form of ZIP System R-Sheathing, which is the Huber Zip OSB sheathing, polyiso and weather resistant barrier all in one.

R-Value 

Technically it's R-6/ inch but it's really about R-5.6/inch over its lifespan because it loses R-Value over time. It also loses R-value the colder it gets.

Cost by R-Value (R6)

R-6 is $0.60 / sq ft

ii. Extruded Polystyrene (XPS)

XPS can also be used as exterior insulation. XPS like polyiso has some thermal drift, some very slow offgassing of the blowing agents over time.

"Over a long period of time (50 to 75 years), the blowing agent slowly diffuses through the thickness of the foam" (source).

Typical blowing agents for XPS are CFC-12, HCFC-142b and HFC-134a, but they change their formulas over time. HFC-134a will be eliminated from extruded polystyrene by January 1, 2021.

XPS insulation was treated with the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) until recently. The two main brands, Dow Styrofoam (Lowes) and Owens Corning Foamular (Home Depot) no longer contain HBCD. Many are now using a butadiene styrene brominated copolymer. (Source).

How Concerning are these Flame Retardants in Rigid Foam?

Flame retardants are sometimes considered non-volatile and sometimes semi-volatile and are found in dust form. If they become dust borne the main route of exposure is hand to mouth, though you also inhale them.

R-Value

R-5/inch

Cost by R-Value

R-5 is 0.60/sq ft

2. Mineral Wool Board 

The other common and easy to source exterior insulation used in the US and Canada is Rockwool in board form.

The Rockwool Comfortboards will be used more and more as many codes across the US shift to requiring exterior insulation. Foam and Rockwool will be the two main types to consider since they will be familiar to builders and easy to source.

R-Value 

R-4/inch

Cost by R-Value (R6)

R-6 is $1. 24 sq ft

3. Cork


Thermacork insulation, unlike cork flooring, does not contain adhesives. It is held together by compressing it with heat which releases a natural binder in the cork. The cork does give off a smoky smell as well as the natural smell of cork.

This is a newer product in North America and is more expensive than the more conventional options. If you can afford it, it is my top pick for non-toxic exterior insulation due to lack of additives and flame retardants.

It can be used as exterior insulation or even the facade of a house which serves the purpose of siding, insulation and noise reduction. See this post as an example or cork used as the facade.

R-Value

R-4/inch

Cost by R-Value (R8)

R-8 (doesn't come in R-6) it's $4.93/sq ft for the insulation type (rougher than the facade)
R-8 in the facade grade, which covers your exterior insulation and your siding in one, is 10.77/sq ft

Where to Buy

You can buy this through green building supply stores.

4. Wood Fiberboard


Wood fiberboard is often used in High Performance/Passive House designs.

One popular brand in North America is Gutex. It is 95% wood (spruce/fir, post-industrial, recycled and new wood), 4% polyurethane and about 1% paraffin. Total VOC level of 187 μg/m3.


R-Value

R-3.7/inch

Cost

R 5.8 is $1.81/sq ft

Where to Source

You can buy this through 475.

Insulation Typically Used in Trailers, RVs, and Vans


1. Rigid Foam


If you prefer to watch a video on the three rigid foams I made this video to explain the toxins in them.

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene aka Styrofoam)

EPS is often used in trailers and can be referred to as "block foam" by the companies.

EPS usually is made with pentane as a blowing agent, the final product has trace amounts of pentane which dissipates rather quickly and so even as it breaks down it does not offgas further. EPS, despite the name (polystyrene), does not offgas styrene.

It is considered 0-VOC - pentane and styrene are not exempt from the VOC testing.

The concerns over polystyrene (Styrofoam) and styrene comes from the following a) chemicals released during the manufacturing of the product b) the product is very toxic if you burn it and c) the styrene can leach if you drink beverages especially hot or very specific beverages out of Styrofoam cups.

In the form of insulation, I would consider this product to be non-toxic, 0 VOC, odourless and stable, with the only risk being flame retardants. This is a very old product with a long track record, here are a couple links to back up the claims.

EPS used to be treated with hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), but no longer is. The foil faces of these insulations block the flame retardants if they are sealed up. But the foil and plastic backed versions can have a strong offgassing odour.

EPS used in packaging and cups, does not contain a flame retardant, and people have sometimes been able to source this type of foam for small structures.

If using EPS in a living space I would recommend borate treated foams to prevent ants which love this insulation.

R-14 for 3.4 inches EPS.

2. Reflectix and Prodex

Reflectix is a bubble foil made of aluminum over polyethylene bubble wrap. It is flexible, very thin and claims to have a very high R-value. The thicker version claims R-21 (which is higher than 5 inches of wool).

These claims are disputed by Green Building Advisor and the Government of Canada. The former states that the 3/8th inch foil has an R-value of only 1 (the same as a single pane of glass).

This would hardly be useful anywhere unless it is in a curved trailer or other RV or vehicle where all other options have been ruled out. Sometimes it's just used to insulate windows, which can be a great help.

Prodex is another similar material, foil and polyethylene based, whose R-value is disputed.

Many similar brands can be found easily on Amazon or Home Depot.

3. Aerogel


Aerogel is a fairly new product, unusual and harder to source. The term itself can refer to a variety of materials ranging from silica, to polyisocyanate to formaldehyde. You will have to check with the company to find out what they are made of and what the VOC levels are.

Most of the Aerogel insulation brands are silica based. I have seen some that I would expect to be very low or 0 VOC. Buy Aerogel site has foil backing which would block all the VOCs if sealed up. It does give off ammonia.

They claim an extremely high R-Value of R-10 to R-30 per inch. The R-value claims are doubted by GBA. They are ideal for curved structures such as domes, arched cabins and curved trailers. They are also very pricey.

You can find some brands on Amazon.

4. Thinsulate

3M Thinsulate (SM600) is an insulation used in vans, other vehicles and RVs. It is made of polyethylene terephthalate (a type of polyester) and polypropylene fibers which will be tolerable to many. The backing is polypropylene. 1% or less of the additives are proprietary and therefore unlisted. The health rating is 0 which is good.

What I don't love about this product in vehicles is that the insulation itself is vapour permeable and it is attached to the walls with 3M 90 Spray (GreenGuard certified, not GreenGuard Gold, not reported to be very tolerable).

You may find this insulation tolerable and it may be a good product for a tiny house or structure. You can buy it on Amazon and Ebay.

R-value of 5.2 for the 1.65 inch

I have seen similar but more unusual insulation made from polyethylene and polyester for homes in batts. (It is more popular in some countries outside of North America.) It may be tolerable depending on what is added to it.

5. Vacuum Insulation Panels 

Vacuum Insulation Panels have the highest insulation value of any of the insulation materials.

These Panasonic panels have an R-Value of R-60 per inch. They were used in the latest Leaf House design (tiny house). This would allow you to build a tiny house for almost any climate.

The foil vacuum pack will block any VOCs from migrating through, but your moisture management system would have to be planned carefully here.

These won't work in most houses and they might not work in most trailers either.

They are very pricey and harder to source than almost all others.








Insulating Around Windows and Doors - Non-Toxic Options



Spray foam is often used around window and door. Handi Foam is GreenGuard Gold and will be tolerable for many folks after curing. In Canada the best source is OL. I find this spray foam to be odourless once cured. Other brands like Great Stuff, which you can find anywhere, seem to be to me to be very similar, if not the same.

Instead of using spray foam around windows and doors you can fill in the gaps with Backer Rod and seal with non-toxic caulk if needed. (I have a post on caulking if you need to test multiple brands).



healthy home consult, building biology, choosing materials, healthy home

Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist with 5 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.



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57 comments:

Richard Wright said...

Great tips here. Its so hard to find this sort of insulation in Barrie however. Any good online stores I should check out? Thanks again.

Kimberly Mellin said...

Do you or Paula Baker-Laport have any suggestions for radiant barriers (metallic sheeting material for ceiling of attic)?

Corinne said...

I don't know anyone that uses them in Canadian climates but what about Denny Foil?

ECO Building Resource said...

ECO Building Resource in Aurora
Tel. 1-877-741-3535
Web www.eco-building.ca

Leslie said...

Good Shepherd wool insulation had latex as I binder last time I checked. (It was _very_ difficult to get the owner of the company to admit this, but after checking out a sample it was very clear to me there was something in there besides wool, and he finally admitted it was latex.) I had talked with Shepherd's Dream about getting some wool that was really just wool (they are a very eco-minded company, and I consider them trust-worthy). I ended up going with Latitude brand. It has boric acid, and an acrylic binder. Acrylic is much more tolerable for me than latex, and boric acid doesn't seem to pose any MCS-related problems. (As Corrine said, don't eat it or breathe it, and you will probably be okay with it, as it does not put of any VOC's.)

Corinne said...

Wow very interesting! Thanks for sharing Leslie

Seth Ashford said...

Which of these forms of insulation could be installed using the blow in insulation? I want to use a less invasive form of insulation installation, but it would also be great for the insulation to also be green! I am thinking that the recycled cellulose is my best choice for that?

http://www.earlytimeshomesolutions.com/attic-insulation/

ruby said...

Do you suggest a vapor barrier such as tu-tuff under the Eva and against the outside wall if attaching to a fiberglass shell trailer wall or on top of an aluminum tread floor? Would that help condensation? Should i apply reflectix first in order to have a better R value?

Mitch Holmes said...

Acrylic is definitely more toxic than latex...

Bill Baggins said...

I would tend to think that a wool bat might be a more common option for people, but I don't know a lot about insulation types. However, I liked when you mentioned that materials are going "green" more, it seems like that might appeal more the the general populace. Nowadays with technology and different manufacturing, it seems like there are more options for those who want an eco-friendly solution. Thanks for the information. http://www.allweathershieldpa.com/services.html

Crystal Burnham said...

Roxul's MSDS states that it is 1-6% "cured urea extended phenolic formaldehyde binder". Please comment, thx. Pg 1: http://www.roxul.com/files/RX-NA_EN/pdf/MSDS%20and%20Safety%20Bulletin/Roxul%20Material%20Safety%20Data%20Sheet%2002-13-14.pdf

Corinne said...

That's why I mention - not for the hyper sensitive.

Joseph Lawson said...

Cork insulation is purported to be pure cork - no additives and have an R-value of around 4 per inch

Corinne said...

Thanks. I will add this soon.

Mike B said...

Is there polyester insulation in Canada? It's rather popular in au and nz. But not so popula in Canada, usa and Europe. Why? Do you know?
Regards, Mike

Corinne said...

It was discontinued at Lowes in the US due to low sales it seems. This one is still available in the US. http://www.middletownlumber.com/enguard.html

Unknown said...

So many options!! We need to choose one for our basement. My husband wants soundproofing so we don't hear everything from upstairs. I don't want any toxins if possible. We are not chemically sensitive, just like to live as clean as possible. Can you suggest which of these will do the job for us?

Corinne said...

Ridged foam or Roxul would be god.

Dale Almond said...

We are currently installing Roxul "Safe and Sound" for soundproofing between some interior walls. We can barely hear a very noisy washing machine :) It's also very fire-resistant.

Catherine Todd said...

Yes, this excellent blog is giving me hope once again that I might be able to live a chemical free life and "get my life back" once again! I can't thank you enough.

Catherine Todd said...

Great expanded article about cork insulation here: http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/expanded-cork-greenest-insulation-material

Corinne said...

:D

Unknown said...

We used Reflectix insulation in a trailer and two tiny homes in a cold climate with great results. It was labeled r-14 for double bubble 3/4". I believe it! It is most effective with an air gap on one side or both sides (not sandwiched tightly between two other layers.) It is even better in the horizontal position, floor and ceiling, but be careful to ventilate the room properly, because reflectix is a complete moisture barrier.

Brooke said...

I just want to say thank you for all your hard work on this blog and sharing your knowledge! I am building a house and constantly refer back to your website. I have found most the Green websites to be junk as they promote recycled products as opposed to non-toxic, low VOC.

Corinne said...

Thanks!

James Carlos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
American Rockwool said...

How about Rockwool Premium Plus from American Rockwool. This Rockwool has zero chemical additives. It is made as a loose fill material so there is no need to add any binders. High R value at 4.13/inch, non-combustible, inorganic and is excellent at sound deadening.

Trisha said...

Unfortunately many of us with MCS are also financially strapped and end up in toxic environments because we can't afford to live in a chemical-free home....it's not a cheap disease to have. I have half-torn-up floors in my mobile home because it would cost me nearly $10,000 USD to replace them all and I live on disability. At least I had the soft spots fixed, but it would be nice to have floors again instead of only subflooring. I can use real hardwood, real linoleum, or cork squares. None of it is cheap by any stretch of the imagination. To do 1100 square feet with underlayment, other supplies, and labor is almost as much as I live on in a year. Many of us find ourselves in similar situations. Instead, I use throw rugs to cover the worst spots and rarely have people over because it's embarrassing to have such a messy floor. However, I had to have the floors repaired or risk falling through one of the soft spots.

Unknown said...

Hi Corinne, Thanks for this incredibly valuable info! You wrote: "Instead of using spray foam around windows and doors you can fill in the gaps with Backer Rod and seal with non-toxic silicone." 1) Do you recommend one type of backer rod over another? Did you choose the backer rod in the link because it has special non-toxic qualities? 2) I'd really like to avoid the isocyanates in Handi Foam (http://www.fomo.com/Data/Sites/1/Assets/ModuleDependencies/csFomoMediaView/Media/%20A16186%20One%20Component%20PU%20Foam%20HC%20November%202015pdf.pdf). What would I lose in terms of keeping air, water, and mold out if I used backer rod and silicone instead? Thank you in advance for considering my question!!

Mr. K said...

Hello. I am chemically sensitive and live in Nova Scotia. I'm looking for insulation options for my house. Any suggestions of where to start?

Corinne said...

Depends on your sensitivities, budget, timeline and what is available there. If you would like to go over it in an email or phone consult my email is corinnesegura@gmail.com

Corinne said...

Thanks I will add this

Winged Lady said...

We have mold in our home, and are going to build a tiny home in the backyard to stay in while we do remodeling and tent for termites. We will be building a "Quonset Hut" of about 425 sq feet. It is a tunnel type of structure with either teardrop or rounded roof, all made of steel, coated in "Galvalume". To prevent condensation, spray foam is recommended as an insulation. Which of these would work best in a metal building? Not sure what "moisture barriers" are in relationship to insulation, as I see people mentioning above. I certainly don't want to invite more mold growth! We live in S. Florida. I am a sensitive. Thank you!

Corinne said...

Hi, I can't give technical advice but there is a reason they suggest spray foam as it's the least likely to cause condensation if you heat the place in winter. If you don't heat the place you have more options. Consult with a building science expert if not sure. You can also read articles on Green Building Advisor which will give you the basics on condensation and vapour barriers (you have an exterior vapour barrier when you have a metal wall on the exterior with no rain screen).

Ron Huyk said...


Unknown said...

Would you happen to know which of these is the lightest option?

JEm Gordon said...

Great post full of useful information -- Thanks!

Unknown said...

I happened upon your site searching for a way to winterize my windows on a budget and without the offgassing. I am sensitive to petroleum based odors. But I am entertaining the idea of using large sized bubblewrap but see HDPE is not considered a zero voc plastic. Could cover window and patiodoor with another clear product after the bubblewrap to create a barrier, but what I wonder? Any ideas would be much appreciated.

Corinne said...

It would be very unusual to react to the plastic in bubble wrap insulation. It has foil on either side. If you buy it from a big box hardware store it likely picked up other chemical odours there. They don't provide much insulation though.

Winged Lady said...

I called Johns Manville and asked for samples. I am ok with the foil faced board, but they also sent a few pieces of the insulation for the ceiling. It is thicker and is cardboard faced on both sides of the foam. I don't do well with cardboard odors, and this one does have the cardboard odor. So, what to use under the ceiling drywall?

Corinne said...

Depends on the type of house and the moisture management system. Which insulation are you referring to with paper backing? Has that been recommended by a building science expert for your house?

Winged Lady said...

No. I'm still trying to figure out which kind of building to build. We are leaning toward Structall panels construction, and that would eliminate the need for the Johns Manville. But I have concerns about EMFs and RF's being trapped in a solid metal building. So, then considered steel frame, and that would need to be insulated. Trying to figure what would be good to use in our very humid sub-tropical environment. Thank you!

Crystal clear said...

In search of an insulation that does not off gas and is affordable, I tested different batts by putting them on my wood stove, Rudolph smelt like melting crayons and some form of chemical stuff, but Owens Corning fibreglass with plant based binders passed, it smells like a baking cake. I’m a super sensitive individual and no off gassing of this stuff, however I have done one wall in my tiny house with 6 ml poly and now I can not enter it without a gas mask.....what can I use as a vapor barrier, what can one use to replace accoustcal sealants....

Crystal clear said...

I meant Roxul not rodoulph, thanks spell check,!

Corinne said...

Hi, is it the insulation that is bothering you that you are trying to block? A sample may be offgassed while a new package will not be. Roxul offgasses quickly which is why it's one of my top choices. It's unusual to put an interior vapour barrier like poly. If you ever us AC you would not be able to have an interior barrier in most systems.

Alisha Place said...

what are the top 3 safest attic insulations?…. I find wool to be, but it's so costly.

Corinne said...

You would need to know which kind of system is needed first, to know if you need batts or foam. Blown in cellulose is often used in the attic as well but first you might need some technical advice there.

Stacy Hancock said...

I'm currently trying to research what best insulation to use for a school bus conversion. We were planning on rockwool, and then I came across the video where the gentleman mentioned it being made of slag. I don't think slag is safe. Probably doubly so in a moving vehicle where friction might cause dust some how to be released into our living area. I only recently learned about slag due to an issue with some local towns trying to save money and putting that on the roads instead of gravel.

Corinne said...

It seems to me similar to Concrete and other products where it is hazardous in dust form to breathe that in. This one has an extra component or it seems like it could be hazardous to also handle it with bare hands. It's not something I would use in a bus though.

Unknown said...

Can Roxul be blown in?

Unknown said...

Does blown-in cellulose also help for sound reduction? thank you

Corinne said...

I have seen mineral wool in blown in. But not that brand.

Corinne said...

Yes, it provides some soundproofing.

Unknown said...

Cork factory workers found to be sick from the dust of cork in factories: Respiratory disease in cork workers (`suberosis'). I am not sure if this would affect us after they are made into unsulation panels. Anyone know anything about it?

Corinne said...

Many products are dangerous in dust form including all wood. And cork is a type of wood bark. Concrete is harmful and dust form glass is harmful and dust form the list goes on. That doesn't mean it's harmful when it is solid.

Unknown said...

Wool Life pure wool insulation is available throughout the US. Website is www.naturalwool-insulation.com

Unknown said...

I'm a big knauff fan. Reflextic is awesome too. I know the R value is questioned on reflextic but that stuff is GREAT, espcially in the southern states. Under metal roofs and behind crawl space skirting. Waterproof, pack rats don't like it much, and it keeps outside temps, outside and inside temps, inside.

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