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What Is Denim Insulation? The Definitive Guide

What Is Denim Insulation

Let’s talk a little bit about fashion. We all buy jeans, and we all wear jeans. What you do with your jeans when you are finished wearing them? Some people give their jeans to younger family members, provided the jeans are still in good shape. Or they donate them to a local charity.

But the worst thing we do is throw them away. A huge amount of clothing, including jeans, ends up in landfills on a daily basis, remaining there for years.

The good news is there is something else you can do with jeans. And that brings us to the answer of the question what is denim insulation. This type of insulation is slowly finding its way into buildings. For example, the California Academy of Science used denim for two-thirds of its insulation needs.

The popular name for denim insulation is natural cotton fibre insulation. Made from scraps and clippings of denim clothing, this insulation is suitable for both residential and commercial use.

Construction workers use it in the same places as fiberglass or mineral wool. With that in mind, let’s take a deeper look at what is denim insulation and its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, the most important aspect is how it compares to other types of insulation.

So without further ado, let’s explore all aspects of denim insulation, including: how it’s produced, problems and pitfalls, and some sophisticated alternative solutions…

How Is Denim Insulation Produced?

When you think of denim insulation, you think of recycled jeans. But there are also other things that are added into the mix. In addition to recycled jeans, denim insulation consists of post-industrial denim and cotton as well.

The fabrics are shredded and then treated with boric acid. This makes them flame retardant, and insect resistant.

Denim insulation is available in batts for walls and loose fill for blowing into attics and crawl spaces. The average R-value of denim insulation is 3.5 per inch.

Unlike fiberglass, denim does not have itchy fibres that can irritate your skin. On the flip side, denim insulation is two times more expensive than fiberglass.

Here are some of the main reasons why denim insulation is gaining wider, public appeal:

  • Denim insulation is sustainable because it is made out of 85% recycled content. The natural cotton fibres are 100% recyclable at the end of the insulation life
  • Denim insulation has higher R-value compared to fiberglass, resulting in better thermal performance, and lower energy bills
  • Better indoor acoustics, as denim delivers ratings 30% better than traditional insulation
  • Improved health and safety, as the insulation does not irritate the skin or the respiratory tract

What Is Denim Insulation

Because of its expansive nature and air-tight seal, spray foam delivers much better thermal efficiency. Open cell spray foam has an R-value of 3.5, while closed cell can go as high as 6

Downsides Of Denim Insulation

With all the benefits mentioned in the what is denim insulation part, let’s take a look at the downsides as well. Here are some problems that might occur with denim insulation.

One of the biggest challenges is size. Manufacturers claim that batts are standard size. However, there are many reviews you can find online that claim that the size was not accurate. Sometimes they are an inch too wide, sometimes they are an inch too thick.

As a result, you need to compress the insulation into the cavity, and by doing that you hamper its effectiveness.

Oftentimes, manufacturers compress the batts into rolls for shipping. And they might not bounce back to their original thickness.

Denim insulation requires vapour barrier to be effective. The extra vapour barrier will cost you more for the insulation.

And last, but not least, alternative products with the same or better R-value cost less. Denim insulation can cost up to three times more than similar products.

Denim vs. Fiberglass

Because denim is quite similar to fiberglass insulation, let’s see how both materials pan out in practice.

When it comes to acoustic performance, or noise reduction, denim scores better than fiberglass. With the same thickness of fiberglass and denim, fiberglass can score up to 0.9 on the NRC (noise reduction coefficient). Denim insulation, on the other hand, can score up to 1.15.

Both denim and fiberglass have class A fire rating, meaning they are resistant to fire.

In terms of R-value, as mentioned previously, denim can deliver up to 3.5, while fiberglass is in the range of 2.9 to 3.2 R-value.

But at the end of the day, what you get with denim is what you pay for. A quick search shows that standard denim retails for £4 per roll, while fiberglass costs between £2.2 and £2.5.

Denim vs. Spray Foam

We mentioned previously that there are other alternatives. Denim insulation is not the only type of insulation better than traditional fiberglass.

Spray foam is a material that has been rising up in the ranks in the last few years. And the reason is quite simple and straightforward, spray foam is much better than fiberglass.

Compared to denim, spray foam is also an environmentally friendly product. Same as denim, spray foam is made in part from recycled content.

But where denim fails, and that is the price, spray foam excels. Both open and closed cell spray foam is less expensive than denim, and they deliver better results.

For starters, denim insulation cannot provide the same air-tight seal as spray foam. This is the single biggest advantage of spray foam over any other insulation product. Spray foam insulation  has an expansive nature, meaning that when sprayed, it can expand and fill all cavities.

As mentioned previously, denim can sometimes be compressed, and lose its effectiveness. And same as fiberglass, denim leaves cracks and holes behind.

Because of its expansive nature and air-tight seal, spray foam delivers much better thermal efficiency. Open cell spray foam has an R-value of 3.5, while closed cell can go as high as 6.

Same as denim, spray foam insulation offers high soundproofing properties, preventing sound from entering your home.

But more importantly, spray foam also prevents moisture; something you do not get with denim insulation.

Set your home up for long-term, thermal success, by investing in spray foam insulation. Simply call 0800 1700 636, or click the button below to get started today!