Is cotton a good insulator?


Quick Answer

Cotton batt insulation is equivalent in R-value, an objective measure of thermal resistance, to fiberglass batts. Cotton has many advantages compared to fiberglass, such as being more sustainable and safer to have in the home thanks to nontoxic preparation and treatment techniques.

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Full Answer

Batts are large, dense sheets of insulation material traditionally made of pulled fiberglass. Cotton batts, like fiberglass batts, are secured behind netting which is typically attached to studs for security. They have an R-value of roughly 3.7, the same as fiberglass batts. Cotton batts boast several features.

  • Sustainable production
  • Nontoxic
  • Treated with borate solutions to deter rodents and fungi

Batts are manufactured using cotton reclaimed from textile mills and factories. This reuse of waste cotton helps cut down on disposal costs, carbon emissions, and other facets of a factory's environmental impact. Denim is a commonly used material thanks to its abundance in the industry, the heavy rate of recycling it sees, and its toughness.

While cotton is flammable and susceptible to rodent and insect infestation, the treatments cotton batts undergo with boric acid and polyolefin corrects this weakness. In addition, the fibers of cotton batts are, unlike fiberglass batt fibers, not carcinogenic. This makes them far less hazardous to the health of those living in the house they insulate, and they provide superior sound insulation to that offered by fiberglass.

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