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Cellulose vs. fibreglass: Which insulation is better?

Woolcell Roof Insulation

If you’re planning to get insulation, often the first question that comes to mind is what’s the best insulation material.

Many customers ask about the options for insulation, and these two are often the top solutions: cellulose insulation and fibreglass insulation.

So, in this article, we will discuss both fibreglass and cellulose and identify which is better in terms of efficiency, affordability and sustainability, among other factors.

What is cellulose insulation?

Cellulose insulation is a sustainable insulation material most commonly made from recycled paper.

To make cellulose insulation, the paper is shredded, mixed with borax and boric acid (which makes it fire-resistant) and then broken down into fibres that provide insulation.

In Australia, Cellulose is combined with wool to create Woolcell. Woolcell is more effective than regular cellulose, as the wool helps it keep its ‘loft’ over a longer time period.

What is fibreglass insulation?

Fibreglass insulation is mostly made of fine glass fibres and sand. It insulates by trapping air inside these fine fibres to slow the transfer of heat.

Fibreglass can be used in its blanket form (or “batts”) or loose-fill. It comes in different thicknesses that determine the resistance of the material to heat flow.

What is better: cellulose or fibreglass insulation?

When it comes to sustainable insulation materials, cellulose and fibreglass are both considered safe to use in the home, though cellulose is widely considered the more sustainable option.

When deciding which one to use for your home, here are the factors that you need to consider:

  • Environmental impact
  • Cost
  • R-value
  • Safety
  • Overall performance

Let’s explore these factors and discuss each option’s features and benefits.

Comparing cellulose and fibreglass insulation

1. Environmental Impact

Both cellulose and fibreglass can be sourced using recycled materials, but where fibreglass is commonly 30%, cellulose is as high as 75%.

Cellulose is also made more sustainably, as opposed to fibreglass which requires extreme heat and toxic compounds to create. This is an important consideration when evaluating the overall sustainability of a product.

Woolcell in particular is very environmentally friendly as the wool used is 100% natural Australian wool. When combined with borax and boric acid being naturally occurring salts, and the paper used is recycled, Woolcell is an almost 100% natural or recycled product.

So, this round ends in a tie.

2. Cost

In Australia, the cost of cellulose and fibreglass per square metre is almost the same. Both are cost-effective solutions and will protect your home from the heat in the summer, as well as the cold in the winter.

So, for this round, it’s also a tie.

3. R-value

A higher R-value means better resistance to airflow, therefore preventing heat from escaping. So this is quite an important deciding factor.

While both cellulose and fibreglass have insulation and respectable R-values, cellulose, especially when mixed with other materials like wool, has a better lifetime R-value.

This is because cellulose is most often blown-in, which is a style of insulation that creates a more effective thermal barrier because the blown-in fibres settle into hard-to-reach places.

Fibreglass is most often installed as batts, which can be less effective because there are gaps between them, especially when installed through DIY rather than a professional.

Cellulose insulation wins this round.

4. Safety

While both materials are classified as safe for households, fibreglass is known to have some drawbacks.

Firstly, the glass fibres and some of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process can act as irritants when inhaled or touched with bare skin. For this reason, fibreglass should always be handled with the proper protective gear.

Cellulose, on the other hand, is made primarily with paper and natural materials, making it safer to handle.

In terms of fire resistance, cellulose is the clear winner. It is 57% more flame retardant than fibreglass batts and is even more flame retardant than an uninsulated home. That means cellulose makes your home safer in a fire than if you didn’t have insulation at all!

The last thing to consider for insulation safety is mould resistance. Again, cellulose, in particular Woolcell, wins out. That’s because the wool in the material is more breathable, resisting the trapping of moisture that leads to mould growth.

So on all fronts, cellulose is the safer insulation option.

5. Overall Performance

While both materials are good for home insulation, a study at the University of Colorado found that a cellulose-insulated building uses 26.4% less heat than a fibreglass-insulated building. The study also concluded that cellulose performs 36% better than fibreglass.

Once again, cellulose takes the final round.

So, which insulation wins?

Both materials provide the following benefits of home insulation:

  • Better energy efficiency
  • More comfortable home
  • Reduced utility costs

However, cellulose insulation beats fibreglass insulation across these factors.

It also takes the ethical high ground with its much more sustainable manufacturing process, being made of more recycled and natural materials, therefore creating a more energy-efficient home once installed.

So, if you’re planning to get a cost-effective insulation solution for your roof, floors, or walls, choosing a great cellulose insulation option and the help of professional home insulation experts will give you the best value for your money.

Woolcell is the best insulation for your home

With cellulose beating out fibreglass as the preferred insulation material, you’re probably wondering what kind of cellulose insulation to use for your home.

Luckily, this decision is easy – use Woolcell!

Woolcell is Australia’s preferred cellulose/wool insulation product:

  • 100% Australian designed and manufactured, and using 100% Australian wool
  • Woolcell resists both mould and vermin, helping people with asthma or allergies
  • The wool naturally helps it retain its ‘loft’, making it retain its effectiveness far longer than alternatives that compress over time

If you’re interested in having Woolcell insulation installed, it will work far more effectively if you have it done professionally.

Get in touch with 4 Seasons Home Insulation to book your free Woolcell quote today.

Or for more information, visit our website.