Alternative Solutions to Wood Fibre Insulation
In recent years, wood fibre insulation has emerged as a popular, eco-friendly option for builders seeking sustainable alternatives to traditional insulation materials. This versatile, man-made insulator can be used in various applications, from walls to roofs, offering an appealing choice for green-minded builders and homeowners.
However, wood fibre insulation may not be the ideal insulation solution for every situation. Despite its advantages, there remain certain inherent drawbacks that may make it a suboptimal choice for some projects, especially if soundproofing is a central component of the room’s design and construction.
Below, we’ll explore the characteristics of wood fibre insulation and propose some viable alternative solutions.
What Is Wood Fibre?
Wood fibre is a type of insulating material composed of the waste softwood materials, such as chips, off-cuts, and sawdust. Typically, these products are made from the wood waste of wood mills located in Eastern Europe.
It’s produced by breaking down wood fibres in one of two ways:1
- Wet process – Basic wood chips are fragmented into smaller pieces then passed through a machine that turns them into pulp. Later, water is added to the mixture, which is then heated to extract the inherent “glues” found in the wood fiber. After, water is removed, allowing the pulp to dry into a thin layer of natural wood fibre.
- Dry process – The dry wood pulp is bonded together using synthetic PMDI glue, and subsequently, the composite is subjected to steam curing. Once the curing process is complete, the insulating sheet is dried and then cut to size.
In either case, wood fibre has become a common insulation material thanks to advantages like:
- Eco-friendly – It’s recyclable, compostable, made from a renewable insulation product, and wood wool uses a high percentage of industrial waste.
- Thermal insulator – Wood fibre provides some thermal insulation by serving as a barrier against heat transfer, which helps to keep spaces cooler during the summer heat while retaining warmth in winter.
- Acoustic insulation – It offers a measure of acoustic insulation in both the walls, roofs, and floors via noise absorption.
- Fire resistant – Wood fibre contains a natural flame retardant additive that prevents combustion and slows the spread of fire. And, should a fire occur, gasses emitted are far less harmful from other types of insulation like organic foams.
Drawbacks of Wood Fibre
Noted above, a wood fibre insulation board also has some significant drawbacks that may make it a less-than-perfect solution for your insulation needs, including:
- Expensive – Because it’s eco-friendly and typically made in Eastern Europe, purchasing and then shipping wood fibre board materials can be costly, especially compared to other common insulation options.
- Significant embodied energy levels – Although natural wood fibre insulation materials may be produced using sustainable, low-emission processes, it’s essential to consider the embodied energy levels associated with their manufacture and transportation. For projects that take into account all three scopes of emissions, it’s crucial to recognize that the manufacturing and transportation costs involved with wood fibre insulation can contribute significantly to its overall environmental impact.
- Moderate thermal insulation – Wood fibre insulation often has a lower R-value than other types of insulation like foam or mineral wool, making it less effective at keeping a building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
- Poor acoustic insulation – When compared to its counterparts, wood fibre insulation also falls short in terms of acoustic performance. This inherent shortcoming makes it less than ideal for projects where soundproofing is a primary concern.
- Rodent and pest issues – Wood fibre insulation products are unfortunately susceptible to pests, such as rodents or insects—either of which could pose health concerns or compromise the integrity of the insulation.
Alternative Solutions to Wood Fibre Insulation
There are several viable alternative solutions to wood fibre insulation. For starters, there are standard insulation options like fiberglass, synthetic materials, or spray foam. That said, newly emerging insulation technologies are becoming increasingly popular, such as:
- UltraTouch Recycled Denim – A superior, eco-friendly insulation made from 80% post-consumer recycled natural fibers, UltraTouch Denim offers excellent sound absorption, thermal performance, and fire resistance—all without irritating the skin or releasing harmful VOCs.
- CFAB Cellulose Panels – Another eco-friendly interior insulation alternative, cellulose-based sound absorbing panels and thermal panels provide effective sound control, noise reduction, and easy installation. With a Class A fire rating, mold resistance, and low VOC emissions, CFAB panels are an environmentally responsible solution that outperforms any traditional material.
Insulating Solutions with Acoustical Surfaces
Wood fibre is a sustainable insulating product that provides moderately effective thermal and acoustical insulation. However, the wood fibre insulation board is expensive compared to similar products due to their limited supply and the need to transport and ship them from Eastern Europe.
While it is a viable option for the eco-conscious builder, there remain superior alternative forms of insulation on the market, such as UltraTouch Recycled Denim and CFAB Cellulose Panels.
How can you choose the right materials for your job?
At Acoustical Surfaces, we’re soundproofing, acoustics, noise control, and vibration control professionals. In addition to our design expertise, we can also provide you with access to an expansive catalog of sound-damping products. Together, we can select construction materials that match your desired acoustical specs and budget.
Want to hear more (or less)? Contact us today to get started.
- Eco Home Essentials. Wood Fibre Insulation – Should I Use it? https://www.eco-home-essentials.co.uk/wood-fibre-insulation.html