Top 8 Insulation Options For Tiny Houses

Top 8 Insulation Options For Tiny Houses

With the thermostat dropping into the low teens each night for us in the mountains of Southern Oregon, it seems like an appropriate time to talk about the top 8 insulation options for tiny houses. Nearly as many insulation options exist for tiny houses on wheels as they do for conventional construction. Which one you choose will depend on your climate, how mobile your tiny house will be, what your budget is, and how natural/green you want the product to be. In this article, we will list the most commonly available options out there and offer the pros and cons of each. And I do want to add that each option listed below has its cons. There is a LOT of room for improvement when it comes to insulation. There some new and exciting emerging technologies that are green; however, they still cost prohibitive so most stores won’t sell them.



Cotton mill waste and low grade recycled cotton are formed into batts. Pros: uses renewable resource and some companies use 100% post consumer fibers, highest ASTM rating for fire, non toxic, well suited to DIY, high sound insulation. Cons: cotton farming very high in water and pesticide use (look for 100% post consumer), weighs twice what fiberglass insulation does, is sometimes bound with melted synthetic, noncellulosic polyolefin fibers (check with manufacturer)

2) FiberglassFIBERGLASS INSULATION: R=3.1/inch

Fiberglass insulation is created by fusing natural sand and recycled glass together at high heat. Fibers are created by molting hot glass through miniscule hole, creating a thin fiber (think cotton candy). Pros: readily available and inexpensive, very lightweight, uses recycled glass in part, relatively easy to install, can find formaldehyde formulas commonly now. Cons: lowest R value per inch, grows mold easily if exposed to water leak, paper backing highly flammable, creates more air pollution than any other batt insulation, vapor barriers required, irritant and can become lodged in lungs, skin and eyes.

3) rockwoolRock Wool: R=3.3/inch

Rockwool is produced by heating natural basalt rocks or industrial steel-mill slag in a surface to extremely high temperatures. As the materials melts, it is drawn out into fibers and formed into batts. It is also known as stone wool, mineral wool insulation, or slag wool. PROS: high flame retardation, rodents not attracted to it, one of least expensive options out there, generally does not require use of moisture barrier before installation (check with you local codes), EPA mandates at least 70% recycled content. CONS: use has decreased over years, can hold large volumes of water if there is a water leak, fibers can lodge in the lungs, eyes, and skin if protective gear isn’t used, very high energy use to create, some manufacturers add 5% phenolformaldehyde.



XPS, or blueboard is usually blue or pink with a smooth plastic surface. It falls in the middle of the 3 rigid foam insulations in both cost and R value. XPS is manufactured in low density and high density versions. Pros: easily found, lightweight, resists moisture and air filtration, strongest of rigid boards. Cons: typically uses HCFCs as blowing agents, which have high global warming potential and moderate ozone depletion, flammable and produces toxic fumes when burned, made from crude oil byproducts, all brands of XPS sold in US include HBCD which causes concern to EPA as well as others, protective gear is recommended to be worn during cutting and installation.


Often called beadboard, manufactured in low and high density formulas. Pros: least expensive rigid foam, uses pentane rather than CFCs as blowing agents so less ozone depletion, lightweight, uses 1/7 of petroleum based products than XPS. Cons: Though pentane doesn’t damage the ozone layer, it does contribute to smog, all brands in the US contain HBCD, flammable and produces toxic fumes, made from crude petroleum byproducts, easier to damage than the other rigid foams, protective gear is recommended to be worn during cutting and installation..


Known as polysio, this rigid foam is a high density, closed cell structure rigid insulation board. All ISO panels are faced. Foil faced ISO panels should never be used with an interior vapor barrier. Pros: has highest R value per inch of any other rigid foam, lightweight, resists moisture, highly resistant to air filtration, most environmentally friendly of the rigid foam board options. Cons: expensive, R value decreases slightly in time due to off gassing, flammable and causes toxic gases when burned, made from crude oil byproducts, protective gear is recommended to be worn during cutting and installation.


7) spray foamOPEN CELL INSULATION: R=3.7/inch

In an open cell foam system, the gas pockets connect with each other. A bath sponge is an example of an open cell foam structure. It is generally used for interior wall application and is not recommended on exterior wall applications (though some claim that it can be used on exterior wall applications). Pros: some brands are water based so there are no ozone depleting compounds in them, lowest cost of spray foams, very good sound insulation, doesn’t shrink, settle or sag, fills all voids, relatively lightweight at 0.5lb per cubic foot. Cons: the health risks are potentially very high, ALL spray foams contain toxic ingredient Isocyanate (even those that have a percentage of soy and claim to be ‘eco’), embodied energy is extremely high while R value is relatively low and equivalent to so many other cheaper and more eco products, soy or castor oil content is at most 10%, the potential for off gassing and making inhabitants ill are significant, must hire a professional to install.


Closed cell foam is much more dense than open cell foam. It has a smaller, more compact cell structure. Pros: has one of highest R value ratings, adds structural rigidity to a frame, resistant to pests, most effective at reducing air leakage, a kit can be bought/rented to do installation as homeowner. Cons: the health risks are potentially very high, ALL spray foams contain toxic ingredient Isocyanate (even those that have a percentage of soy and claim to be ‘eco’), because the material is so rigid closed cell systems tend to develop cracks in the material compromising the insulative envelope, many people on RV blogs are opening their walls to remodel and finding a pile of pulverized insulation in the cavities, if the ratio of parts A and B aren’t mixed exactly right, the material can off gas toxic fumes perpetually, a code approved fire barrier must be installed over spray foam in living spaces (such as ½” drywall).

As you can see, each insulation option has its own sets of pros and cons. Many other types of insulation options exist such as wool and hemp batt insulation, cork rigid panels, Air-Krete, and more. If you are building your tiny house on a fixed foundation, other options open up as well such as straw bale insulation (our favorite!). Before making any decision, make sure to do extensive research on the potential health risks of the product. Making an informed final decision will ensure that you have no regrets in your own tiny house build.

How about you? Do you know of an insulation options for tiny houses that are healthy AND affordable? We would love to hear! 

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148 Responses to Top 8 Insulation Options For Tiny Houses

  1. vicky November 30, 2015 at 5:08 am #

    doesn’t sound like there’s a good choice on the list.

    • Gabriella November 30, 2015 at 8:38 am #

      I actually completely agree! It’s kind of crazy that these are the main options out there this day and age and with all of the advancements in technology that are happening. Of course there are other options out there (wool batt insulation, mushrooms, etc.); however, they are not readily available and they cost a lot. Until new products come out with healthy and affordable options, this is for the most part what we’ve got to work with. This is why we love straw bale construction SO much: healthy, uses waste product, and affordable. However, straw bale is way too heavy for a THOW so that is off the table with those.

      • rayn December 1, 2015 at 3:41 am #

        Hemp is a very viable and relative low cost option not mentioned here. It is mold resistant and has an R value around 3.5. It is light weight and beneficial for the earth.

        • Emma July 5, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

          I totally agree, hemp is the ultimate building material, but hard to get one’s hands on

      • Laura December 21, 2015 at 8:14 am #

        I’m wondering if it is possible, despite the rather obvious downside,to use a combination of rigid foam and, say, something like Rockwool or denim, instead of only one. Please hear me out: I am not a professional, but, from some visual observation, mold seems to be the number one con with the natural products. What if I used rigid foam only at the base (lower, say 1 or 2feet of the THOW) and then placed the more natural product on the upper 9-13 feet)? The lower portion seems more susceptible to mold and water, either from road spray or simple gravity, while the upper sections of the home are often better protected). Any cons, other than the obvious? Obvious being the reduced R value, especially where the 2products meet.

      • Energy Masters July 20, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

        L77 gives you a great R-value per inch and at a fraction of the cost of many of these products. Of course it is a blown in fiberglass product, but I’ve been working with it for over a year and I’m happy with the results I’ve been able to give to my customers. The fact that it is long fiber instead of short fiber means less itchiness and better R-values. I’ve been using it primarily for attic insulation but there is lots of potential to use it for exterior wall cavities. I’ll soon be building a cottage with 2×12 exterior walls and L77 is my product of choice for insulation.

        • Erin January 31, 2017 at 10:30 am #

          Can you use L77 in the floor cavity of a THOW? What’s the R-value per inch?

      • Kat July 22, 2016 at 3:58 am #

        Sheeps wool make excellent in wall insulation, Bahhhh bahhhh

    • michael April 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

      I like this, I’m in the process of researching a tiny house myself . bBut i think you left one of the most important features their R value

      • /bob April 19, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

        If you are referring to the options in the blog above the R value is included. The title for each option shows: Insulation name/type: R= value/inch.

    • Thea Bryant September 23, 2016 at 8:10 am #

      Dense packed blown in cellulose. It has an R Value of 3.45/inch. Note that this the dense packed cellulose, not the loose fill which is important to avoid settling and therefore retain it’s efficacy.

      • Robert Hothan February 27, 2020 at 4:52 am #

        Amazing that people who want a natural product don’t know about dense pack cellulose ! Made from recycled newsprint, book, cardboard, it’s the only affordable way to carbon sequester AND insulate ! the unsung cellulose insulation.

    • Jan Hermans August 30, 2017 at 4:47 pm # . This a company in Ohio to check out. This farm has a insulation batting that they make from alpaca wool. It has a R19 value and can wick water if it gets wet. It runs on the expensive side but may be worth it in the long run. Can also be applied in loose form. Haven’t used it yet but I think it is what I will use. Jan

  2. Bob Cowan November 30, 2015 at 5:57 am #

    Thanks so much for outlining new and helpful information. The Tiny House ‘movement’ seems to have quickly turned into a series of money-making marketing schemes…

    • Travis November 30, 2015 at 11:12 am #

      I do agree that there’s definitely a strong pull to bring tiny home construction into the market which is what many of us, specifically myself are trying to escape. However, I don’t see how the concerns for insulation with respect to tiny homes is any affirmation of the tiny house movement turning into “… a series of money marketing schemes.” What conventional homes don’t have insulation… not to mention 3-4 times more than required by a tiny home???

      Is there some aspect of insulating a tiny home mentioned in this article that seems more financially opportunistic that insulating a conventional sized home?

  3. Josephine November 30, 2015 at 6:01 am #

    I agree with Vicky, there doesn’t seem to be a good option among those listed. Why do the powers-that-be allow these products to be manufactured and used? What is a viable alternative?

    • Gabriella November 30, 2015 at 8:39 am #

      Great question!! I am looking forward to new and affordable technologies to come out. Amazing that this is the general list of readily available options isn’t it?

  4. Derryl November 30, 2015 at 6:09 am #

    I would like to add a couple of extra methods of insulation making it now the top 10.

    SIP panels with built in insulation – my tiny house has expanded polystyrene SIPS. The house panels went up in a weekend. R=3.8/inch.

    Loose dry cellulose normally applied using a blower. R=3.8/inch.


    • Gabriella November 30, 2015 at 8:35 am #

      Thank you Derryl!

    • Cheri March 30, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

      Thank you for mentioning SIPS. This is the way I have decided to go when and if I make my home. Very little waste. A bit pricey but worth it.

    • Joshua Ruby August 28, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

      SIPS (structural, insulated panel systems) are not so much a different form of insulation so much as a prefabricated method of using it. Varying SIPS can be made from XPS (extruded polystyrene), EPS ( expanded polystyrene), or CCSPF (closed-cell, spray polyurethane foam). The benefit, environmentally, of this form of construction is that it is possible (though unlikely to be done) to collect and filter the air of the CCSPF used in the SIPS because it is manufactured in a controlled environment versus on a site in the open. The structural and insulative values are protected by the sandwich construction method of the SIPS; thus creating one of the lightest and strongest forms of construction now in use. The integral skins aid in the prevention of cracks and decay of the foam cores, as well as provide significant strength. (Those interested more should look into the strength of sandwich structures in composite engineering theory). Having used nearly every option on this list as a form of insulation (as well as the dry cellulose), my preference is in CCSPF (because I pay no mind to the environmental affects when I consider insulation–just so everyone is aware; besides it is shown to be less harmful or similar in the manufacturing/installation than other systems anyways). The biggest error individuals make with insulation is putting so much emphasis on R-value and less on air infiltration. It is better to make a tight room with little insulation than a leak room with a lot of insulation. For those interested in saving money and being comfortable; create a tight building envelope. Spray in foams are simply the best form of doing this to date (in lightweight construction). You can also caulk seams between plates, and between studs and sheathing. Also, if a house is adequately sealed, you can use 1-1/4″ CCSPF and it will perform better than standard installation of R-19 batting, possibly more than R-35 depending on the installation. I would recommend 1-1/4″ CCSPF on walls and 1-1/2″ on floor, and 2″ on attic. The other benefit of this is you don’t have wasted unconditioned attic space.

      Joshua Ruby- custom builder of high performance structures, primarily ICF

      • Sandi October 11, 2018 at 6:25 pm #

        Thanx Joshua your insights on SIP and the importance of a tight building envelope seal resonates with my design approach for my TinyHouse.
        I want try my hand at making my own Sip panels. Are you able to recommend any research I can reference?

  5. Chris November 30, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    I’m insulating my tiny house with wool, which is 100% natural/renewable and a pleasure to work with. Loose wool has an R-value around 3.5 (batts are slightly lower), is mold resistant, and doesn’t require hazmat gear to install. My blog ( has details on using wool.

    • Gabriella November 30, 2015 at 8:47 am #

      Thank you Chris! Wool insulation is lovely. Are you building in the US and if so, who did you buy the wool batts from?

      • Ashley March 7, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

        Oregon Shepherd Wool is a great resource here in Oregon: This is what I’m planning on using in mine.

        • Gabriella March 8, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

          Thanks Ashley!

    • /bob November 30, 2015 at 9:19 am #

      Excellent article here.
      Just wondering: does the loose wool settle in the walls?

      Was just looking up more info on insulation and R value and found that R value is NOT a constant. I tend to do that when reading blog posts like this one, and I’m always looking things up to learn more about things I read. Kind of knew that about R value I guess but didn’t really remember. I did a little search online and some reading on it. Found this article that was informative: (some graphs included). The main take away is that R value changes with temp, more so than simply loss from age (which also happens).

      Interesting that if you want to use one of the rigid foam insulation products, at first-look the Polyiso would seem best for best insulating value. But in cold climates you might want to rethink that and go with another… perhaps XPS instead. Polyiso is the one rigid foam that *drops* R value when it gets colder, whereas the others increase R value. Before any choice on insulation it is good to do a lot of research behind the surface before deciding which to use. I sometimes go a bit overboard on my research of what I am considering. 🙂

      I do like the idea of using loose wool but concerned about settling.

      • Travis November 30, 2015 at 11:18 am #

        Almost forgot to mention that in using polyiso foam board as a insulation option, I can offset the weight of the house using the weight savings for consideration with a portable water tank which is definitely going to add significant weight.

      • Gabriella December 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

        Thank you for this info Bob!! Really good points. In terms of the wool, the use of batts may be better in the end for a THOW. Though the R value is slightly less than the bats, in time and with settling, the R value will potentially drop dramatically if there are exposed air pockets on the tops of the walls.

  6. Travis November 30, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    I am just about finished with the framing of my THOW and am currently considering insulation options. I quickly made the same observations everyone else seem to note about limited options. I thought mineral wool batts was the direction to go in until I started giving more consideration to weight and realized with a THOW, this option was weight prohibitive. As much as I don’t want to use a rigid foam insulation, it’s seeming to quickly float to the top of my list with consideration to weight and R value. Being that I reside in Arizona where the summer temps can easily rise above 110 for 3-4 mos. out of the year, I am concerned that the more environmentally sound insulation options won’t provide the comfort needed to keep energy consumption low. Just doing some mental adjustment to contend with the fact that I may have to go with polyiso rigid foam board as my insulation choice. Thanks for the great article.

    BTW, the November 2015 (No. 254) print of “Fine Homebuilding” contains a cover article exclusively on insulation options. I found it to be really helpful as well.

    • Gabriella December 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

      Thanks for the reference to the new Fine Homebuilding article! Sounds like you are doing your research and due diligence. You bring up a really good point that climate and region need to be considered heavily in whatever option one chooses. Let us know what you end up going with! 🙂

    • Laura December 21, 2015 at 8:20 am #

      Thank you! I find most tiny home enthusiasts to live in north. It’s nice to see a hot weather blogger join in. I had Greg Johnson, one of the “original” tiny house guys, email me that he cooled his THOW with a computer fan in the upper window. It took all my restraint not to reply sarcastically about southern temps. Not more than 5 years ago, Austin endured 100 days of over 100 degrees in the summer and nighttime temps don’t go low either. So, please, blog, blog, blog about your experiences as you go. I haven’t progressed yet to actual tiny house living, but see it as a definite in my future and doubt I’ll be moving. Thank you!

    • John Tyler Conger August 23, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

      Hey Travis,

      I know it’s a bit late but Im also in Arizona and would love theoppurtunity to check out your tiny. If you’re still building it I could help out with that too. Currently in the design phase of my tiny. Please let me know if this is something you’d be interested in.


    • Sara Teubert January 1, 2017 at 12:23 am #

      I live in the high desert in southern california and it gets very hot here too. It also gets very windy. When my home burned down in March of 2016, I lost just about everything that I owned. However, I was able to scrape together $300 to purchase a very old, virtually gutted, 15′ trailer to live in temporarily. The trailer needed a LOT of fixing up to be liveable though, since it had been used as a junk shed and left to sit for the past 15 years. Fortunately, the frame and aluminum exterior were in surprisingly decent condition. But the interior needed to be overhauled, and I had no money left at all. My mother-in-law let me park my trailer out in the yard of the place she was living, where I was allowed to salvage some basic tools, fasteners, and repurpose a small quantity of old wood and various odds and ends for free. There was no heating or cooling still, and I cooked in the day and froze at night. It had a hell of a draft too. So, It was crucial that I came up with a way to improvise some insulation and weatherization techniques. Now, bear in mind, I’m only 24, and grew up in the city of Detroit and knew little to nothing about building and the only way I had to get any materials, I came about by recycling cans that I collected on the roadside or through ingenuity, so forgive me if the way I went about insulating and windproofing my “Turd On Wheels” isn’t what you would consider to be up to snuff. After I had replaced the busted window glass with pieces of clear, tough plastic that I had cut out of some storage totes and epoxied them into the window frames, I used a combination of sillicone caulk and adhesive-backed foam weather stripping to seal out the wind and occasional rain. Then I gathered as many styrofoam packing sheets as I could, and used spray adhesive, and a couple cans of expanding foam, to turn them into the insulation core of the wall, using duct tape to cover the seams between the pieces of styrofoam, covered by a sheet of clear plastic tarp material glued onto the styrofoam for an air barrier on the exterior-facing side of the styrofoam sheet, and a layer of metallic looking bubble wrap on the interior side of the styrofoam. I later covered the bubble foil with cardboard, and some thin wood sheets that I guess is some kind of cheap wood wall paneling of some sort, (IDK) which I painted a beautiful shimmery metallic purple that resulted from accidentally spilling two tiny cans of pink and silver rustoleum. In the summer, when it got hot, I covered the roof and windows with thin, shiny mylar emergency blankets to reflect the sun’s rays. I could go on and on about how I fixed up my beloved turd, but I should wrap this up. Just to sum things up though, I used various free discarded packing materials such as styrofoam and metallic bubble wrap that I repurposed to make FANTASTIC, super lightweight, super effective insulation that is windproof, waterproof, mold-proof, and pest-proof.

  7. victor November 30, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    what about wool ?

    • Gabriella November 30, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

      Wool is wonderful! I will do a follow up article on alternative insulation options for tiny houses. The choices above are for commonly available materials. Wool is quite a bit more expensive and hard to find.

      • Travis November 30, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

        That’s seems to be the case in that the article I referenced above doesn’t even reference wool insulation as an option. It references only the following:
        1) Mineral wool batts
        2) Mineral wool boards
        3) Fiberglass
        4) Polyiso rigid foam
        5) EPS
        6) XPS
        7) Cellulose
        8) Open-cell spray polyurethane foam
        9) Closed-cell spray polyurethane foam

        Of the options listed closed-cell spray polyurethane foam and polyiso rigid foam had the highest R-values, mineral wool batts and mineral wool board had the highest fire control rating, water-vapor permeability rating, and sound control rating. All 6 foam insulations had equally the highest airflow resistance ratings.

  8. rayn December 1, 2015 at 3:45 am #

    People should look into Hempcrete and hemp insulation very healthy for the environment and for people no real cons to the product has an r value of about 3.5 per inch. It is renewable resource not very pricey either.

    • Gabriella December 1, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

      Love hempcrete. Thanks for the add!

  9. Cliff December 1, 2015 at 5:41 am #

    What about loose straw packed in with a vapor barrier?

  10. Kelly Dobson December 1, 2015 at 5:53 am #

    I’ve seen a house wrap made by a company called Insultex that claims an R-6 Rated impermeable barrier wrap for new home construction. I saw somewhere a 5′ x 150′ roll cost $150 (Home Depot?). As a wrap, this ADDS R-6 to the standard exterior wall just with wrap? Not sure if it’s only available from contractors? Technology comes from new clothing fabrics used in military issue rags, as well as in Under Armor products(?). Sounds like it would be a good, albeit expensive, addition to any THOW… Wish I was building my own home. Someday?

    Sorry about all the ?’s … I’m recently retired and doing research with your help. Thanks!

    Kelly D

  11. Jerry McIntire December 1, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    Yes, dense-pack cellulose insulation certainly belongs on this list. Benign, made from recycled newsprint, low-cost, can be installed by anyone (many rental places have machines).
    I don’t see how mineral wool can be too heavy. A friend is using batts of it in his tiny because it is a good sound and air barrier, and doesn’t off-gas (he was an insulation contractor).
    I like SIPs panels made with polyurethane closed-cell foam when inches and weight matter. A 6.25″ wall is R40, the foam is relatively clean, and the structure goes up much faster with excellent air-sealing performance.

  12. Hugh Owens December 1, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    Another good post from Gabriella. I have shared my insulation opinions with Gabriella privately but I think it might be appropriate to add them here now that Gabriella has broken the ice. I have built a variety of houses, boats and even one plane. I have used all manner of insulation in my career The one insulation that I would probably like to use in the next house is one I haven’t tried which was featured on this old house: spray wet cellulose which sets up in the wall cavity. This would be pretty ideal in our frigid Wyoming climate as long as you can use sufficient wall thickness to achieve a decent R value. Teton County Wyoming where I live, requires R60 in the roof/ceiling in new construction.. I used 16″ rafters in my last roof job with fiberglass batts and I still need to use poly iso to get to the required R60. The thin walls used in RVs and tiny houses mean that to get to an acceptable R value in hot or cold climates, you will have but one choice:CLOSED CELL SPRAY FOAM. In temperate year round environments like the West Coast or Hawaii you can get away with R3/inch options Gabriella listed. Closed cell spray urethane is inert after it is cured, THe health risks is primarily a sensitizing risk related to skin and lungs during the mixing and application which is why the operators have respirators and hazmat suits and hoods. I have built two houses using closed cell and live in one with my family. I used spray urethane in my tiny house with 3.5″ in the walls, 5.5″ in the roof and 6-7″ in the floor. Outside of my plywood shell I used 1″ poly iso board to cut bridging losses through the wood or steel studs. To say that it has been satisfactory is an understatement. It is truly amazing how comfortable it is as I am still doing trim work on the inside and we are having subzero nights almost every night. I installed a 14000 btu propane furnace and backup electrical heat but the 1400 watt portable electric heater keeps it very comfortable(mid 60’s). I only installed the furnace for off grid heat and I now have been using only the electric heater. My tiny house is on a 24′ equipment trailer. The key to its comfort is thick insulation in the roof and thicker in the floor. We had to jack up the trailer chassis rather high to permit the installer to get to the undercarriage. We used a flame retarding foam approved by EPA for exposed use in crawl spaces under a house. Most foams are ferociously flammable and release nasty combustion products and when I gathered my foam debris I had to shave off the walls I considered burning it because we have no county landfill. My installer counseled against it saying that it doesn’t burn very well. I found this surprising and decided to try anyway because most foam burns as if it were soaked in kerosene . Indeed my foam did burn but only slowly and not completely. My only advice to builders is you MUST hire an experienced installer who has done hundreds if not thousands of jobs..HIMSELF! This is no place to use cheap labor. The new equipment mixes and delivers the 2 parts with microprocessor accuracy and according to my installer the days of bad mixes are a thing of the past. I would add that most of the disasters alluded to on the net were open cell applications which my installer says he would never use. Also you should not attempt to do the job yourself. No insulation can or should be left exposed and foam is no different. My installer says that closed cell foam is highly structural and adds immense rigidity to any shell and he has never heard of any cracking in his jobs. Airplane wings are filled with spray foam incidentally to add rigidity. Refrigerators and freezers that are energy star rated all use closed spray foam insulation as do the new coolers from companies like Yeti. If you talk to tiny house or Rv builders and ask why they don’t use spray foam instead of batts you will get many different responses. Cost is the primary reason. A major reason is that it is cost prohibitive using an assembly line manufacturing model. The actual cost of the insulation compared to other options is not significant. What generates the cost is the prep time and especially the trimming and cleanup time. I saved a lot of money by doing this grunt work myself. The actual spraying took only a few hours. My cleanup took more than 2 days and was exhausting. But was it worth it? You bet!! There are a few more cons to spay foam. Trying to do a remodel on a spray foam building is economically unfeasible. You have wiring and plumbing buried in the foam. If you make a mistake there………….you get my point. In our area, the tiny house builders I have met(2) both used spray foam and they considered all the options Gabriella listed. If you live in a hot or cold climate and want to be comfortable, there is only one choice.

    • Jerry McIntire December 1, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

      Hugh, thanks for the very full comment. I would add that I learned closed-cell polyurethane spray foam is the only foam that doesn’t need a fire retardant added because, as you learned, it doesn’t ignite like other foams. The fire retardant additive is one of the worst chemicals in most foams.
      By the way, the fire retardant in cellulose insulation, a borate, is not nearly as toxic.

    • Laura December 21, 2015 at 8:44 am #

      Excellent post. Lots of great info. Thanks for sharing. I’d still like a chemical expert to verify the post-install offgassing. Have you heard of anyone doing that for the spray foam? I am really concerned about this, especially for tiny houses but for any construction.

      P.s. I live in a hot southern climate and understand your comments but, since all heat does is make you sweat, the R requirements aren’t quite as strict in Austin, Texas building codes. They are more concerned, rightfully, with energy consumption than with what you face, extreme cold exposure, snow loads and pipes freezing. It’s a rare winter here that ever threatens even the pipes, much less anything else. And Windows are the primary heat loss area anyway, at least in my limited experience. I’ve gained more heat and cold through old single pane Windows and drafty doors than through walls of 3 quite old and poorly insulated homes I’ve lived in. Plus, with heat and humidity being the higher concerns here, slightly uninsulated walls actually can be a plus if moisture gets in, the subsequent and often heat and dry then can dry it out easier. These factors are more of a concern with a tightly built tiny home.

    • Laura December 25, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

      One youtube video showed a guy in Alaska, I think, who was a boat builder. He, I think, used sheet foam. BUT, he said he put a full layer of foam sheathing on Both sides (to bridge the thermal gaps) as well as between his 2 x4 framing and stated the final was about 5 inches thick. I don’t believe he used spray foam, but I could be mistaken. He implied the full foam sheathing worked for him, even in minus-some incredibly low temp. I have seen videos of non-tiny house builders use this technique also, but they usually just place a layer on the outside under the external sheathing (or apply something like insullated hardiboard) . Obvious disadvantage, as we all know, is reducing square footage in THOW’ s that are required to remain at 8’6″ wide.

  13. Russ December 3, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    Whoa you guys, you are talking about what I have been researching, all this very day, and the discussion isn’t out dated from 2010, amazing. I am currently researching techniques to build an ultralight tiny house. I am trying to be very picky in my insulation material because it is an investment that I will be exposed to on a daily basis. So I am factoring health in along with weight-to-R value comfort/balance. This is what I have developed so far…

    14′ x8′ trailer, single axle, currently has aluminum car haul decking, might replace with wood/ply to save weight.
    Advanced framing, 24″ oc 2×6 frame
    Let-in 1×6 on the sides reinforced on the interior with 11/32″ plywood, painted
    Cotton Batt insulation R21, compressed where the let-ins run diagonally front, back and middle, tyveked then 1/2″ airflow shim on every stud/glued.
    11/32″ plywood exterior sheathing only on the front wall, roof and back of house, not on 14′ side walls to save weight.
    Ribbed metal roofing on top, 8′ high roof in front, 12′ high roof towards the back of trailer. Coated rolls of aluminum flashing as siding, with 45degree, lengthwise cut 14’x3/4″ Cedar Shim to give a lip on the overlap and screw down the overlap between studs. This aluminum product is 1/3 the weight of the steel roofing for the sq. footage, and about the same price.

    It weights 1690lb by my calculation, that is everything except floor, door, windows. Not sure what the trailer weights, but it is Single Axle, so 3500MAXlb, which is why I want to remove the aluminum floor. Also four 100ah batteries and solar panels will be 260lb, so I am getting way to close to my 3000lb cutoff.

    Putting myself into a 3000lb weight limit by buying a single axle trailer has been rather contemplative. There are so many designs out there, the simplest to go to is the SIP style with spray foam insulation that adheres the two panel sides. I’m sure expensive prefab walls weight less than what I can build with 2×4 plywood faced walls, but either way I analyze it, there is a TON of glue involved that I don’t want to be forced into a relationship with.

    I decided on the cotton after much research to find it is treated with borate fire retardants. Borates are a salt, borax and can’t cause harm in levels of even the workers at borax factories, pretty safe and mildew/flame resistant. Plus it is great for sound and slightly higher R per inch than fiberglass. So I have to design a frame for it, and for some reason R19-20 is cheaper than R-13 in cotton.

    So instead of saving 4″ of interior space and on 2×4″ stud weight, I decided to use the old practice of let-in bracing with interior sheathing on 2×6’s to bump my house up to 21R. This will save me the two largest walls from plywood weight. The 1/2″ shim gaps between the tyvek and aluminum will help condensation in the wall, since cotton is still a potential molding material. Also by using the aluminum flashing (which has more color selection) I can apply a little shear strength and smooth surfaced exterior.

    This is as light weight as I can get, because I have yet to find data on 2×4 let-in bracing which makes me think cutting into 2×4’s weakens it to much for high shear strength. I otherwise would have to sandwich the 2×4’s 24″oc with plywood, my estimates for that shows to be heavier. I would have to use 16″oc to sheath 1/ 2″ ply on only the exterior side, and that is also heavier because of the more 2×4’s.

    Here is a study I found that discusses interior sheathing and let-in bracing superiority:

    This is all beside the original insulation discussion. I got here looking for more answers to my personal fiberglass vs cotton debate. Although if the house weight is to high and price to extreme, I am considering bumping down to a 1. 5″x 4 1/4″ (-3/4 let-in cuts and interior air gap)customrip studs, 24″oc with let in and 1/2″plwood only on the interior, bumping down to R13 Cotton Batts. To save more weight and money I might just use fiberglass R13, then seal the inside up very well to prevent off gas from getting in. Although finding a safe paint I can trust is also hard.

    What do you guys think?

    • Andrew December 29, 2015 at 10:01 am #

      Hi russ. Thanks for your message. I’m sorry to say that I think your calculations are considerably off. Cotton insulation is one of the heaviest insulations available, so that alone would be heavy. Further, if you are talking about 2×6 framing with (roughly) 3/8″ plywood and let in bracing, that is pretty heavy too. In fact, you could eliminate the let-in bracing entirely and simply use 1/2″ (or even 7/16″) plywood and get the shear rating required in residential construction codes. I think you will find that the trailer itself is pretty heavy and that weight needs to be considered in the overall axle rating. With a single axle, that rating is likely pretty low. If you really want to save on weight, get rid of the wood framing and replace it with steel frame (C-channel steel) construction. You can even talk to a metal shop about having the frame welded which could (potentially) eliminate the need for any plywood to give shear strength. Windows and doors are heavy too, so you need to include those in your calculations as well as cabinets, plumbing fixtures, flooring, etc. It all adds up and quickly. I honestly don’t think you can build a 14′ long by 8′ wide tiny house on a trailer and have it stay under 3000 pounds. Hopefully you take that as a kind challenge and prove me wrong! 🙂

    • kfsrq January 4, 2016 at 5:12 am #

      I suggest you base your design on a two-axle trailer instead.
      As Roy Scheider said, “You’re going to need a bigger boat!”

  14. Russ January 11, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    Certainly taking it as a personal challenge. After realizing the cotton weight by calling the company, I have switched gears and am designed a metal framed house. Although steel is lighter than wood, I still had to remove the loft from my house, saving over 80sq ft of material. My goal is 3, 3000lb, $3000, 3 weeks to finish. Will be starting a website soon once I have every i dotted.

    • Gabriella January 11, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

      Really looking forward to hearing how it goes and seeing photos of it when done! We are all rooting for you 🙂

  15. Ole Larsen January 11, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

    Hi you all.

    I recently joined this site… and i love it… is planning to build my own some day.
    anyways,,, regarding the matter of insulation we use this product in Europe:

    • Ole Larsen January 11, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      – i forgot to mention the pros about this product but you can read that for yourself… in my eyes this is an awesome product… overall.
      I would hope that somebody could make or import this product to the US.

      • Jerry April 24, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

        Ole, a product like Airflex is available in the U.S., Reflectix. It gives very little conductive insulation value, but as a reflective barrier is useful for radiant heat loss/gain. A simple sheet of aluminized mylar will do the same thing, and is thinner.

  16. Corrina January 15, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    Is using light straw clay an option? I would be curious if this would be viable for a house on a trailer.

    • Andrew January 21, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

      Hi Corrina. Not really. Light straw clay, although lightweight, requires pretty thick walls to be effective. In fact, a bare minimum of 12″ is typically required for a viable wall system. The other risk would be settling over time due to road vibration. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  17. Jay Olstead January 20, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    First, I wanted to commend you guys on compiling all of the insulation information presented here. What we s often find is a trade off to achieve maximum R value while maintaining a healthy TH, interior envelope. Unfortunately, we mostly here discussions about the insulation needs as they relate to “R” value. Insulation in your home provides resistance to heat flow. The more heat flow the lower your heating and cooling costs. To understand how insulation works, it helps to understand heat flow which involves three basic mechanisms- Conduction, convection, and radiation. Regardless of the mechanism, heat flows from warmer to cooler until there is not a temperature difference. During the winter the heat that you create moves through the TH and the unheated areas to the outside. In warmer climates, during the cooling season, heat moves from the outdoors to the interior of a TH.
    At Ragsdale Homes, we are concerned about our being good stewards of our natural resources such as the forests which are being somewhat depleted or are sometimes on fire. Although we love and appreciate the warmth and smell of natural wood, we set out to develop a non-wood structure. Furthermore, we are concerned about weight, strength, and “R” value. For this reason we used MIPs (Metal Insulated panels). This type of construction delivers a Polyiso core with metal skins, including stainless steel, galvalume lightweight steel, and aluminum alloy. Because the panel is not made from a solid foam core, an R value of 9.5 per inch is achieved. The foam core is pored wet between the skins and then baked like a brownie. This method results in a more dense, closed cell foam that is currently in a class of it’s own. a 2 ” panel is R19, 4″ R38, and a 6″ is R57. The other advantage to this panel is that it is stud less and is joined by two double insulated joints. Most foam panels don’t off gas after 24 to 48 hours, however, any exposure afterwards is too much. The panels that we use are entombed in metal, providing a six sided closed cell and is contiguous. We must remember that ” R” value is based on a product being enclosure inside a six sided cell. Thermal bridging comes into play is you have voids or multiple wood or metal studs. Recently, we have been experimenting with hybrid MIP/VIP panels that have an “R” value of R50 to R60 in only one inch. Imagine having a 2″ wall, with R 50 insulation value. Jay

    • David Tuemmler April 16, 2016 at 6:50 am #

      Hi Jay, Are you able to supply a source for the MIP’s you are recommending, interested in the costs among other things.

    • Grace June 30, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

      Very interested in hearing/researching more about this product as well, Jay.

  18. Barbara February 13, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    Has anyone looked into Ecobatt insulation – Also here’s a blog post debating serval types of insulation, including Ecobatt and wool. It has two source for wool insulation – one right here in Oregon. case you didn’t get an answer to your question above.

    Thank you for your website and the excellent posts and information. So much to learn….

  19. Barbara February 13, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

    Opps. Sorry. Here’s information about problems with wool insulation and moth infestations –

    In fact, there’s a lot on the web about moths and wool insulation.. This seems to say there’s a solution but hard to know –

  20. Future Dreaming February 25, 2016 at 7:02 am #

    Cotton looks like a no brainier on this since it’s about the only one where it looks like I wouldn’t have to use protective equipment, or maybe a little due to pesticides, so lets just hope I can get it and it’s not to expensive. 🙂 Thanks for the information! 😀

  21. Mike Z March 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    wow – who knew there were so many decisions, thanks for all this information and links !

  22. Travis McKinstry March 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

    Oh boy… this article has been great, but still leaves me unsure of what to use. haha thanks for all of the replies. I’m currently building a tiny house with my lady and we can’t decide what kind of insulation to use. Anyone come to any kind of consensus?

  23. susan March 23, 2016 at 7:27 pm #

    I want to know (and have not run across the info here yet) what insulation Andrew and Gabriella used for their tiny house?

    • Andrew March 27, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Susan. We used rigid foam insulation in most places. There were a couple spots (around plumbing) where we used cotton insulation as it was easier to get a tight seal around the pipes. Hope that helps.

  24. susan March 28, 2016 at 7:43 am #

    Thank you Andrew. I am afraid I am a long way from actually starting to hopefully someday build a tiny house, unfortunately ,but I am trying to learn along the way, and there seems to be no consensus on the best option that is safe and effective, so I figured I would ask. I live in Arizona, so I assume I need to be less concerned with insulation than colder climates?

    • /bob March 28, 2016 at 8:13 am #

      I would think you’d be just as concerned with insulation in hot climates as in cold. Instead of trying to keep the heat in you would want to keep the heat OUT as much as possible, making it easier to cool the space. In the dry heat of AZ I can see where moisture would not be as much a concern, but then again it might be still since there would be moisture inside that needs to get out. JMHO.

  25. Tonya Prosser April 12, 2016 at 10:53 am #

    Gabriella, thanks for the feedback on the different insulation options on the market. I have been doing numerous amounts of research myself. Have you heard of Alpaca Fiber insulation? We had lab testing complete and then started manufacturing and selling this product about 2 years ago. Since alpaca fleece has no lanolin, it is easier to process and is hypoallergenic. Alpaca Fiber is 100% natural and is harvested with minimal impact on the environment and no harm to the alpaca’s when shearing. No petroleum or chemicals used in the manufacturing process, only natural oils. We DO NOT use Cedar, Lavender, Pine, Limonene, Tea Tree, Soy, Citronella, Sandalwood, Borate, or Titanium in our process. Alpaca fiber regenerates annually usually supplying about 10 pounds of fiber per alpaca. Due to the fiber being light weight and low bulk mass, the use of transportation fuels and other resources are minimized.

    • Grace June 25, 2016 at 8:03 pm #

      This sounds like a very interesting alternative! Do you have a website we can visit to view specs and pricing?

  26. Heather April 25, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    Great Article! I am actually building a survival shelter, not a THOW, but as I live in Utah (with temperatures varying from the negatives to the hundreds) and have health problems, I am looking for an insulation that will work into the negatives but won’t cause me to cough up a lung. The mineral wool sounds interesting, as does the Alpaca. I wish there was an article on good insulation for people who have breathing trouble and are in tiny spaces. 🙂

  27. Darren May 6, 2016 at 8:38 am #

    We have not yet decided on which type of insulation we plan to use. They all seem so scary!

    Question though on the faced foam insulation boards… Can you “stack” them to fill your walls? I was looking at the Polyisocyanurate Foam Boards online and can only seem to find them in 1 or 1/2 inch thicknesses. Can I place three 1″ and one 1/2″ boards into my walls? Or do they lose efficiency this way? Is it available in 3-1/2″ thickness somewhere that you are aware of?

    I know… lots of questions, but we are getting closer to starting our build and I am most concerned with how to most effectively insulate our floors.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Laura May 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

      Foam board insulation stacking? Yes, has been done frequently in tiny house construction, and, not sure but my common sense (not always the best source of information) might say it would slightly help, not hurt the total R-value. Think of layering in any situation (clothing, for example). I do not believe, apart from using SIP construction, that it is possible to find greater widths but, not sure….

      The primary problems are thermal bridging and simple gaps (which can be filled with spray foams). I mention in another post the video of the guy in Alaska who used this method. Easy to find his video on YouTube. He claims he is very cozy in extreme sub-zero temps. He lost some inches of interior width due to adding an interior layer of foam board (to counter the thermal bridging issue) under the interior wall sheathing however.

      Recent videos I’ve found on YouTube under the “proofispossible” and building performance tag lines (a guy named Corbett something), are also helpful, ESPECIALLY because he built a tiny house in Florida (think extreme hot, humid) but he and his wife travel all over the country and, I believe his podcasts and He himself originate from Chicago. So he’s taking the conversation to an excellent level in addressing the extremes of r-value, moisture concerns and ventilation needs. I am at this moment listening to one of Corbett’ s informative podcasts on moisture management. Fascinating and current, 2016, information, on all this. I live in Texas and, live in an old, leaky big 1972 house (looking toward tiny house living….) and my situation is VERY different from the Alaskan’ s. But, in answer to your original question, I think Corbett used stacked foam boards in his floor and around wheel wells (he kindof made a DIY SIP around the wheel well) and used Roxul (brand of Rockwool I think) everywhere else. Another tiny home builder I saw online used Roxul everywhere but…. be careful, I think it may have a downside he was not aware of.

      Keep in mind always that, as you try to “close up the gaps” to prevent heat loss and /or gain, as it were, you may be creating too tight of an envelope (think mold, moisture and carbon monoxide). Andrew and Gabriella have some fantastic advice on ventilation in other strings on this site.

    • Steve D March 1, 2017 at 8:26 am #

      Hi Darren- late to the game here, but you can get polyiso up to 4″ thick from most manufacturers, and up to 4.5″ from at least one of them. The issue with finding the thicker material is that you’ll need to go to an insulation supply house specifically. DIY places will typically only have 1″, 1-1/2″ and 2″

      And to your first point- yes you can stack them and get the total value. Something this article does not mention is that polyiso R-Values actually increase substantially with thickness. Wile EPS and XPS go up in a linear fashion, (ex; EPS is R4 for 1″ and R8 for 2″, etc…) polyiso R Values do not (ex; ISO is R6 for 1″ and R13.1 for 2″ and continues rising- going up to R31 for 4.5″) I would only advise that you check with the specific manufacturer. Some of their formulas cause some manufacturers to have higher R Values than others the thicker the material gets.

  28. Laura May 15, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    For anyone concerned about VOC’ s, I highly recommend going to Tiny house site, a lady with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) had a THOW built to her specs by a conventional builder.

    I apologize if I’ve blogged this one before but I think it’s good to repeat, especially for insulation, AND I think the site has relatively new information on offgasing of various current products. For example, I was not aware until I read her information that there is a cork insulation product out there now. Sounds expensive …. but might be great for tiny house. She did not mention weight but my guess is it is light too, for those concerned with total house weight. Also, Roxul was noted by one youtube THOW video to be heavier but it doesn’t sound bad from a VOC perspective on her site and may be more mold resistant than some? I thought I had heard it had other downsides but…. can’t remember now what….. She has the R-values listed on each product.

    P.s. I might add that I am EXTREMELY concerned with some THOW builders out there, especially those that were or are park home and custom RV builders. They obviously use any product (especially insulation) they want to WITHOUT considering the VOC impacts. Without any code enforcement of this industry, PLEASE , all of us who are concerned, warn people to be careful. I emailed one such RV/THOW builder who seemed clueless, BTW when I asked him twice to clarify his insulation practices, his replies revealed he was totally unconcerned how he did it!

  29. Brian May 18, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    There have been some major advancements in the close cell foam area. I work with a contractor that uses a spray foam that does not contain Iso. It has no after smell and is soy based. Very cool product just slightly lower R-value is honestly the last thing on the list one needs to look at. Air sealing is #1. Every thing but the spray foams allows air through. and even the open cell does to a point. Denim is not really all that good as the fibers break apart and the insulation falls to the bottom of the wall cavity over time. I’ve done demos and IR surveys of home with denim and its a total joke!

    • Gabriella May 19, 2016 at 8:11 am #

      Brian, can you point me to the iso-free insulation? Soy ‘based’ insulation contains no more than 15% of total content. Have not heard of iso-free insulation

    • Grace June 25, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

      I’m with Gabriella. I keep seeing that one needs to consider climate when choosing insulation, but what about those of us who will be traveling to various climates with out THOW in tow?
      I’ve seen from several posters that the closed cell spray is the best option for those types of THOW owners, so I’d definitely like some insight on the iso-free option if there is one.

  30. Wendybird May 30, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    Wool batting would be better than the denim option, and is naturally flame retardant without the need of any chemical retardants as well as drying quickly. Wool batting as insulation usually has lanolin still in it which discourages pests and mold growth as well in the event of a leak. Also you don’t WANT your house to b airtight, such an environment would be unhealthy to live in, and R values arent everything. For example in a hot climate you might want to ignore them entirely and focus on ventilation and passive cooling from tile or (in the case of a permanent structure) thermal mass. The problem with the tiny house movement is that it’s falling into the same standardization trap that currently plagues traditional housing, along with it’s tendency to ignore the environment the structure is being built in and just assume that what works one place will work equally well in another.

  31. Aria Wellington June 1, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

    The Denim/Cotton option sounds like the best choice for us. I like that it uses renewable resources and is non toxic. We are currently in the process of building a smaller home and this choice of insulation would be perfect. We will have to talk with our contractor about it, thanks.

  32. Jim Clements June 19, 2016 at 11:01 pm #

    For many years it has been know about the dangers of majority of insulation products , your report highlighting the pros & cons . is perfectly correct , however you have overlooked safe , Green material, for insulating Homes , and especially small tiny houses , Reflective Insulation is the answer, Our company KdB Insulation Ireland , have been campaigning for years about the dangers of toxic insulation , I invite you to visit our website where you will fine the presentation on the history of insulation going back to the ancient Greeks up until today’s choice of material , I presented this History of Insulation at the RIMA Conference that was held in London 2014 ,
    All the Insulation mentioned in your report are conductors ,that work by slowing down the passage of warm air from one-side to the other side and retaining the heat generated within the building . during hot climates the radiant heat from the Sun can cause overheating in buildings, traditional Insulation will retain the heat generated from the Sun , requiring Air conditioning units to reduce the temperature, if not controlled it can be dangerous , this is especially prevalent in small tiny houses such as shipping container conversations , In our research and development into temperature control into Shipping Container Conversations , Reflective Radiant Barriers are the the best solution , installed properly this will maintain the same temperature during Summer and Winter conditions within the Container , you can see how this is done at. , Reflective Radiant Barriers reflects 97% of radiant heat , Airflex is one of the most tested reflective radiant barriers made from 100% Aluminium, is safe fire resistance , you can read more about the benefits this type of product on the RIMA website , or . I hope that this information helps your followers , It is important to remember badly installed insulation will not work and can be dangerous.

    • Jim Clements June 19, 2016 at 11:16 pm #

      Myself and Mr Guy Delcroix have been the only European members of RIMA International the aim of RIMA is insure that there is no false information made by manufactures of Insulation , and informing the public about the correct way to insulate a building .
      Insulation has been the biggest con , of all time what is being sold is not sustainable . and contains carcinogenics. there are many reports published by reputable bodies .

  33. Kieran June 20, 2016 at 10:50 pm #

    Cork is definiely a great way to go! R-4 per inch. About 4-5 times more expensive than Polyiso, but muuuuch greener. It’s carbon-negative, even accounting for ocean freight from the Mediterranean. Contains no additives, hand-harvested, easy to install. Cork is the greenest insulation possible. Wool is good, until you think about the methane emitted from sheep.

    Cork was the leading insulation material until cheap petrochemical-based insulation came on the market int he 50s, but now more and more people are coming back to cork. It’s really the best.

  34. Ben July 7, 2016 at 10:51 pm #

    Has anyone thought of Cork as an insulation as it has been around for years And is natural.

  35. Jen September 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

    Any thoughts on aerogel? I just heard of it and its’ 10.3 R value per inch. Not sure if it’s eco-friendly. I am considering doing:

    1. shell of something fire-proof, make it air-tight to keep fire out and reduce heat loss/gain, then inside that, (my architect friend suggested cement board)
    2. 2×4 frame (trying to think of something other than wood to go with the fire-proof theme, I’ve been told light-weight steel posts exist)
    3. 2″ of wool in between 2×4 posts
    4. 1″ aerogel
    5. interior decor

    For a total wall thickness of 4-5″

  36. Jeffry September 14, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

    I’m considering buying a bus with a wheelchair ramp built into the back of it. Like some brand new trailer models, that contain a separate storage unit in the back for a motorcycle or any other large items, that’s what I intend to utilize that space for. I’d like to use the rest of the space as living quarters and I’m really concerned about what to insult it with.
    The entire idea hinges on how I can insulate this unit, well enough to survive a Northern Canadian winter! I’ll likely heat it with a newport propane heater. I don’t know whether to get it spray foamed or whether there’s something that will insulate the thin layer I’d likely desire, with the same R value? Maybe one of you has a better idea, because wool although a lovely idea is just not going to cut it. I’d freeze to death!

    The finished product will be a solar, propane, tiny motorhome with a lift in the back, at a fraction of the cost and the layout I desire.

    Any thoughts or recommendations would be much appreciated.

  37. myrooff October 4, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks but what about the cost of insulation?

  38. Jasper Whiteside October 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    When I walk through the hardware store, it is usually the bright pink fiberglass insulation that catches my eye. Probably because it is bright and pink. It is good to read here that there are different situations where one type of insulation is desirable over another. I still think that fiberglass is the most commonly used insulation. Am I wrong?

  39. Arli October 27, 2016 at 11:11 am #

    Do not skimp on insulation, your comfort level will depend on it. Eighteen years ago I built a 2000 sq ft home and insisted on R-20 walls. Pink Fiberglass insulation was R-15 with R-4 poly board and house wrap. This only added $200 to the usual insulation cost, and I saved greatly on utility bills, summer and winter. All the neighbors noticed my air conditioner ran much less.
    In a tiny house, comfort level is much more important in hot weather, especially in high humidity levels.

  40. August Jeffers November 2, 2016 at 12:19 am #

    What about Phenolic Fiber Foam?

  41. Meghan January 3, 2017 at 9:30 pm #

    Hey guys, I see a lot of comments here about the toxicity of the insulation if it burns. Its really far less important than the toxicity that would come from any foam padding in your mattresses, chairs, padded seats, or couches. Those are directly exposed to you in the home and inhaling those byproducts will kill you before the fire reaches the roof. Just something to consider when determining a roofing product. Safety is not the goal of a tiny house, they can be easily blown over and destroyed in high winds, there’s no protection from tornadoes…we all live on the edge a little. Its just about where you want to take them 🙂


    Former Fire Inspector/Instructor/Chief

  42. Rose February 7, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    I have been searching for one myself. If anyone is interested in looking for good option check out Air-crete. Light weight, great in cold and hot weather. Energy efficient, eco friendly, and economical. During my research I have also seen hard to burn, Elsa has a long sustainability. Repels insecs, if I missed anything, im sure you may find more about it on you tube.

  43. Shey February 17, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    Which insulation option do you think is the BEST option to prevent mold? I am someone who is very allergic to mold so no moisture and breath-ability is huge for me!

  44. Steve D March 1, 2017 at 8:33 am #

    This is a good article, even with a few misconceptions or interpretations of R Value performance on some items. All in all- very informative.

    I would like to add that while polyiso may appear to be more expensive than other rigid options, it is only that way if you compare it “inch for inch” against the other 2 major rigid foams,EPS and XPS. If you do a comparison for dollars to R Value, you will find that polyiso is comparable to the other two early on, and become more economical per R Value the thicker it gets, as it doesnt go up in R Value in a linear way per inch as the other do, but rises much higher per inch., which is why polyiso cannot be priced out in a traditonal “board foot” method

  45. Mark May 25, 2017 at 6:05 am #

    I saw Rose mention Aerogel. Has anyone else put any thought into the material? I found this company called Airtight Distribution sells Aspen Aerogel products, the same product NASA uses. They sell sample sizes to full rolls of the stuff. I am thinking about putting some in my garage with a wood stove, to turn it into a heated workshop.

    • Mark May 25, 2017 at 6:06 am #

      I meant Jen** mentioned the aerogel.

  46. Amy Winters July 2, 2019 at 8:11 pm #

    Thank you for pointing out that one can use fiberglass insulations for their home. My brother has been thinking about updating the insulation in his attic. It’s good to know that fiberglass insulation is readily available and inexpensive.

  47. Foametix July 30, 2019 at 3:01 am #

    I used insulating foam, and I am very pleased about this, it has become warmer in the house, the sound insulation has increased. We spent not so much money and time on it, everything was done quickly and clearly. The guys came with sprays for applying insulating foam and did everything quickly.

  48. Ellie Davis August 29, 2019 at 1:30 pm #

    It’s interesting to know that fiberglass insulation is inexpensive and very lightweight. My husband is looking for materials to insulate my mother’s basement. I will let him read this article to help him to choose the best material for my mother’s home.

  49. Skylar Williams October 22, 2019 at 9:36 am #

    Thank you for explaining what polysio foam boards are and how to use them as insulation. My brother wants to move out of my apartment and into a tiny house that he builds himself. I think he wants to use insulated panels made of steel to protect against harsh weather.

  50. Faylinn April 28, 2020 at 8:59 am #

    Wow, I did not know that in an open-cell foam system the gas pockets are connected to each other! This is something important to keep in mind as I research different ways to insulate my home, now that the construction is almost finished. My husband said that we should hire a professional contractor that can look into this, so we do not have to stress about the insulation of the home by ourselves.

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