Denim Insulation Pros, Cons, R value

Denim insulation, also known as blue jean insulation or cotton insulation, is an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to traditional fiberglass insulation. It is typically made from recycled denim or cotton fibers.

Denim insulation is made by collecting and cleaning discarded denim or cotton textiles, shredding them into small fibers, and treating them with eco-friendly fire-retardants. These treated fibers are then formed into insulation batts or loose-fill insulation products for use in construction. This sustainable insulation material offers good thermal and sound insulation properties while reducing waste through recycling.

R-value of Denim Insulation

Denim insulation has an R-value of 3 to 4 per inch. You’ll find standard-sized batts of denim insulation with ratings ranging from R-10 to R-20.

When compared to similar insulation materials like Rockwool and fiberglass; denim insulation and Rockwool insulation generally have similar R-values per inch, with both typically falling within the R-3.0 to R-4.0 range. Fiberglass insulation, on the other hand, tends to have slightly lower R-values per inch, typically ranging from R-2.2 to R-2.7.

It’s important to note that the actual R-value of insulation in a building depends on its thickness. To achieve a specific total R-value for your project, you would need to install an appropriate thickness of insulation material based on its R-value per inch.

denim insulation batts
Denim insulation batts

Pros of Denim Insulation

Environmentally Friendly

Denim insulation is a highly sustainable option as it’s crafted entirely from recycled materials, primarily old denim jeans. This eco-conscious approach is crucial in an era where environmental concerns are paramount. It not only repurposes discarded textiles but also reduces the volume of textiles ending up in landfills.

Easy to Install

Denim insulation, typically provided in batt form, is exceptionally user-friendly during installation. Unlike fiberglass insulation, which necessitates protective gear like gloves and masks due to the presence of fine glass fibers, denim insulation poses no such risks. Handling it is safe for the skin, and there’s no need for extensive safety precautions.

Fire Retardant

Denim insulation is treated with borate, a fire-retardant solution. While it doesn’t make denim completely fireproof, it significantly delays the spread of fire. This contrasts with some other popular insulation types, such as fiberglass, which can contribute to the rapid spread of fires.

Pest Resistance

Borate treatment also imparts pest resistance to denim insulation. Insects and bacteria are deterred from infesting it, making it a long-lasting and durable choice. This resistance is particularly important in preventing rodent infestations that can occur in insulation materials.

Cons of Denim Insulation


Denim insulation tends to be pricier than fiberglass insulation, typically costing around 10-15% more. While it offers similar airflow-blocking effectiveness, the higher cost can be a deterrent for those on tight budgets. Additionally, denim insulation’s susceptibility to moisture means it often requires vapor barriers, adding to the overall expense.

Not Widely Available

Compared to fiberglass and other traditional insulation materials, denim insulation is relatively new and not as widely distributed. Its production relies on the availability of recycled denim, limiting its accessibility. However, as eco-friendly materials gain popularity, it’s likely that denim insulation will become more prevalent in the market in the future.

Denim insulation vs. fiberglass

Here’s a comparison table of denim insulation versus fiberglass insulation:

AspectDenim InsulationFiberglass Insulation
MaterialsMade from recycled denim and cotton textilesComposed of glass fibers and minerals
SustainabilityConsidered eco-friendly due to recycled materialsRequires new resource extraction and can have higher energy consumption
InstallationEasy to handle, minimal airborne particlesCan release irritating glass fibers during installation
Thermal PerformanceProvides good thermal insulation when installed correctlyOffers good thermal insulation properties when installed properly
Sound InsulationOffers sound insulation, effectiveness variesProvides sound insulation, effectiveness varies
Fire ResistanceCan be treated for improved fire resistanceCan be treated for improved fire resistance
CostMay be slightly higher costOften available at a lower cost
Denim insulation vs. fiberglass

Denim insulation is eco-friendly and sustainable, utilizing recycled denim and cotton materials, while fiberglass insulation primarily consists of glass fibers and minerals. Denim insulation is easier to handle during installation, releases fewer airborne particles, and is considered more environmentally friendly, though it may be slightly more expensive than fiberglass. The choice between the two depends on project needs, budget, and environmental considerations.

Denim insulation vs. Rockwool

Denim insulation and Rockwool (also known as mineral wool) are two different types of insulation materials used in construction. Here’s a comparison between the two:

AspectDenim InsulationRockwool (Mineral Wool) Insulation
MaterialsRecycled denim and cotton textilesNatural rock materials and recycled slag
Environmental ImpactEco-friendly due to recycled materialsRelatively sustainable, using naturally occurring raw materials
InstallationEasy to handle, no protective gear neededMay release small particles, recommended protective gear
Fire ResistanceTreated with fire retardant chemicals, delaying fire spreadInherently fire-resistant, can withstand high temperatures
Pest ResistanceResistant to pests due to borate treatmentNot preferred nesting material for pests, but not inherently pest-resistant
CostCan be more expensive than fiberglassOften competitively priced, potentially more affordable
AvailabilityAvailability may vary depending on locationWidely available in many regions
Denim insulation vs. Rockwool

In summary, both denim insulation and Rockwool insulation have their advantages and disadvantages. Denim insulation is more environmentally friendly, easy to install, and pest-resistant but can be more expensive. Rockwool insulation is fire-resistant, competitively priced, and made from naturally occurring materials but may require more precautions during installation and may not be as eco-friendly as denim insulation. The choice between the two will depend on your specific needs, budget, and environmental preferences.

Frequently asked questions

Where is denim insulation commonly used in homes?

Denim insulation is commonly used in walls, attics, and ceilings of residential homes to provide thermal and acoustic insulation. It can also be used in commercial buildings, schools, and other structures.

Is denim insulation safe to install?

Yes, denim insulation is safe to install without special protective gear. It does not release harmful airborne particles during installation, making it a user-friendly option.

Can denim insulation be used in green building projects?

Yes, denim insulation is often chosen for green building projects and LEED-certified buildings due to its sustainable and recycled content.

How long does denim insulation typically last?

When properly installed and maintained, denim insulation can last for the lifetime of a building.

Charles John

Experienced HVAC technician with 8 years of experience in the industry. Capable of handling all sorts of heating and cooling equipment as well as proficient in operational management, construction-related techniques such as preventative maintenance, electrical troubleshooting and AutoCAD

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