Over the years, there have been countless insulation products marketed and sold for both residential and commercial application. Some were less effective than others, some were impractical to install, and even others were deemed dangerous. At the end of the day, fibreglass and cellulose have emerged as the two front-runners, and the ones that are most commonly used by professional contractors. Today, what remains is a discussion about the merits of each product, and clearly there is a case to be made for each.
In terms of product composition, fibreglass is available in batts (or batting) or as a “blown-in” product. The cellulose product is only available as a“blown-in” product, sometimes referred to as loose-fill insulation. Many contractors have a definite preference for the cellulose product. They find cellulose to be more effective; with a longer lifespan; and a safer material for both installers and occupants. Many contractors will actually list the advantages of cellulose for clients in order to reinforce the benefits.
Contractors value the advantages of cellulose. Some brand names actually offer a lifetime warranty. When professionally installed, the finished space is considered non-flammable and the material composition is resistant to insects, rodents, and even mold. Cellulose also has significant soundproofing capacity, making it ideal for various parts of a home. Best of all, however, contractors like the fact that cellulose is a non-toxic installation, safe for homeowner and occupants, and eco-friendly in its composition.
With an expert install, cellulose can achieve R-Value ratings (the level of thermal insulation) that are far more effective than fibreglass. And although cellulose is fabricated from wood fibres, newspaper, and cardboard, it’s factory-treated to be permanently non-flammable. At the same time, its fully resistant to mold, mildew, and fungus, making it the preferred application for spaces like the attic and roof cavity. In these spaces the potential for mold is a definite possibility and so avoiding it is a definite advantage.
Fibreglass insulation is available in either “batts” (or rolled batting) or as a loose-fill material. Unfortunately, many homeowners have installed fibreglass insulation only to find negative consequences after the install. Since fibreglass products are manufactured with glass fibres, manufacturers are obliged to post warning labels to articulate the potential hazards. And, of course, the dangers pertain to both occupants and installers. Indeed, it’s not out of the ordinary for a homeowner to have fibreglass insulation removed.
Contractors will usually advise that “blown-in” insulation products have a tendency to settle, and settling can cause insulation to lose R-Value over time. This is an important consideration for the homeowner and should be discussed. As for fibreglass batts, they don’t seal a space properly – and because of this, air movement can be problematic, thus compromising the overall efficiency of the insulation. Finally, fibreglass does not provide the same product performance per inch as cellulose.
While there are positive aspects to fibreglass insulation, and contractors may well opt for this installation, the advantages of cellulose far outweigh fibreglass. A good contractor will discuss the upsides and downsides with the homeowner, and will recommend what’s best. And with some basic knowledge and understanding of the options, a homeowner can be well equipped to make a good decision.