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Between Glass and Paper: The Great Insulation Dilemma of Our Time

Choosing the right insulation for a home or a remodeling project can often be an overwhelming task. Two popular options dominate the market: cellulose and fiberglass. Today, we’ll delve into the fundamental differences between these two insulation types to help you make an informed choice for your Alabama home.

Fiberglass Insulation

Origin: Made from recycled glass and rapidly renewable raw materials.

Forms: Comes as batts, rolls, or blown-in (sometimes called loose fill or blowing wool).

Cellulose Insulation

Origin: Primarily derived from ground-up recycled newspaper.

Forms: Predominantly in blown-in form for attic cavities or “drill and fill” applications in existing sidewalls. It can also be wet-applied.

How They Perform Thermally (R-Value)

R-value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values indicate more significant insulating power. In comparable wall cavities, fiberglass insulation can achieve higher R-values than cellulose. For example, blown-in fiberglass can reach an R-15 in a 2×4 wall, while cellulose peaks at R-13.

Ease of Installation

Fiberglass wins when it comes to dust-free installation. Its fibers are tightly spun, making it cleaner and more straightforward to install. Plus, you don’t need a blowing machine for fiberglass batts and rolls.

In contrast, cellulose, derived from shredded newspaper, can be considerably dustier.

Fire Safety Considerations

Fiberglass is naturally noncombustible, thanks to its origins in glass and sand. On the other hand, cellulose, being paper-based, is combustible but is heavily treated with fire retardants. It’s essential to consider that treating cellulose introduces a significant amount of chemicals into the home, which may present health concerns over time.

Job Efficiency

Fiberglass insulation is compactly packaged, requiring less storage space and fewer materials for installation. For instance, Knauf’s blown-in fiberglass needs 56% fewer bags than cellulose for the same insulating power, making the job quicker and more efficient.

Price Points

Price is a significant consideration for many homeowners. Both fiberglass and cellulose come with similar price tags, roughly ranging from $0.70 to $0.80 per square foot for 6 inches of insulation.

Making the Right Decision

Based on flexibility, installation ease, performance, and its use in 85% of American homes, fiberglass insulation seems to stand out. However, the best choice always depends on individual needs, preferences, and specific project requirements.

For professional advice tailored to your Alabama home’s needs, reach out to us at Alabama Attic & Crawlspace. Our experts are always ready to guide you to the perfect insulation solution.

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