Recycled denim insulation, also known as natural cotton fiber insulation, is a high-performance insulation that's made from scraps and clippings from the manufacture of denim clothing. This insulation is suitable for residential and commercial use in the same places as fiberglass or mineral wool batts would be used—between open roof rafters, ceiling joists and wall studs.
Recycled denim insulation offers these advantages over traditional fiberglass insulation:
A downside to installing recycled denim insulation is that it can cost twice as much as fiberglass for similar insulation effectiveness. Environmental engineers agree, however, that the benefits of removing asthma- and allergy-triggering toxins from a home's indoor air outweigh the increased expense.
The manufacturing of recycled denim insulation is a zero-waste process. First, scraps of denim fabric are processed to achieve a loose-fiber form that resembles cotton candy. Next, the material is treated for resistance to fire, mold, mildew and pests, blended with bonding fibers and heated. Finally, it's cut into batts. Any scraps from the manufacturing process can be shredded and returned to the raw material supply.
Recycled denim insulation is available in R-13, R-19, R-21 and R-30. For a given thickness of insulation, its R-value is similar to cellulose. Installing recycled denim insulation batts is similar to installing unfaced fiberglass batts. Recycled denim is available in standard sizes and designed to fit snugly between studs and joists without being stapled to the framing. For the best performance, be sure to encapsulate the batts on all six sides, keeping it in contact with framing, sheathing and drywall. The batts should not be compressed within a cavity, because that reduces the insulation's R-value. Recycled denim insulation can be cut to fit around protrusions with a heavy-duty utility knife. When the local building code requires that a vapor barrier be used with insulation, install polyvinyl sheeting across the insulated surface.
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