How to Insulate Your Home With Newspaper

How to Insulate Your Home With Newspaper

How to Insulate Your Home With Newspaper

Why Use Newspaper as Insulation?

Newspaper can make an excellent insulator for homes. Here are some of the benefits of using newspaper as insulation:

  • Cost effective – Newspaper is very cheap and widely available, making it one of the most budget-friendly insulation options. The raw materials are low cost compared to fiberglass batts or rigid foam boards.

  • Environmentally friendly – Recycling old newspapers by using them for insulation keeps them out of landfills. It’s a great way to reuse a material that would otherwise be trash.

  • Decent insulator – While not as effective as some other types of insulation, newspaper still provides good insulating properties. It slows heat transfer and improves energy efficiency.

  • Easy to install – Newspaper insulation is simple to install. In most cases, no special tools or skills are required. The lightweight material is easy to cut, shape and place where needed.

  • Doesn’t promote mold growth – Unlike some other organic insulation materials, newspaper doesn’t readily support mold growth. The ink prevents absorption of moisture.

  • Non-toxic – No harmful chemicals are used in producing newspaper, making it a safe choice. There are no irritating fibers or dust.

  • Can insulate hard-to-fill spaces – Newspaper can be loosely packed into irregularly shaped areas and gaps that would be difficult to insulate with rigid boards or batts.

Where to Use Newspaper Insulation

Some of the best uses for newspaper insulation include:

  • Attic floors – Spread newspaper between joists in attic spaces to insulate ceilings below.

  • Wall cavities – Use newspaper to insulate both interior and exterior walls by packing it into the cavities.

  • Floor joists – Insulate floors by packing newspaper between floor joists before installing subflooring.

  • Crawl spaces – Place newspaper under floors in crawl spaces to insulate the area.

  • Ductwork – Wrap HVAC ductwork passing through unheated spaces with newspaper to reduce heat loss.

  • Odd-shaped spaces – Use wadded up newspaper to fill irregular gaps and spaces that require insulation.

Newspaper insulation generally works best for small jobs or filling in spaces around other insulation materials. It usually isn’t sufficient as the only insulation for an entire attic or exterior walls. Supplement it with fiberglass, rigid foam or other types of insulation.

Preparing and Installing Newspaper Insulation

Installing newspaper insulation is a fairly straightforward process:

Gather and Prepare the Newspapers

  • Collect old newspapers – Look for giveaways or ask neighbors to save their papers.

  • Separate glossy inserts – The shiny pages don’t insulate as well. Remove them.

  • Shred or tear into strips – Tearing by hand creates nice long strips. Or use a shredder.

Protect Floors and Fill Gaps

  • Cover floors – Lay down tarps or plastic sheeting to catch loose pieces.

  • Seal cracks – Use caulk or spray foam to fill any cracks or holes first.

Pack Newspaper into Places Needing Insulation

  • Wear gloves and long sleeves – For scratch protection when handling paper.

  • Fill cavities loosely – Don’t compact the newspaper tightly. Allow loft and air pockets.

  • Get good coverage – Pack it into all corners and edges leaving no gaps.

  • Supplement where needed – Add fiberglass or other insulation if extra R-value is needed.

Finish With Vapor Barrier and Close Up

  • Install vapor barrier – On the warm side of insulation, use plastic sheeting or Kraft paper.

  • Close access points – Replace any insulation shields and close up openings once done.

  • Let insulation loft – Give newspaper a day or two to fully loft before closing up.

Tips for Effective Insulation With Newspaper

Follow these tips to get the best results from newspaper insulation:

  • Use more layers rather than compacting tightly. The air pockets provide insulation value.

  • Make sure newspapers are dry when installing. Any moisture reduces effectiveness.

  • Wear proper protective equipment like dust masks, gloves and eye protection.

  • Combine newspaper with other insulation like fiberglass to increase overall R-value.

  • Have a strategy for empty cavities, edges, wiring and plumbing before starting.

  • Get proper fire safety clearances from wiring, lights and chimneys when insulating attics.

  • Ensure proper ventilation is maintained for optimal air circulation and moisture control.

  • Hire an insulation professional if unsure about proper clearances or installation techniques.

Alternatives to Newspaper Insulation

While newspaper makes a decent insulator, other materials provide higher insulation value:

  • Fiberglass – Fiberglass batts or loose-fill are some of the most common insulators used.

  • Mineral wool – Made from natural materials, mineral wool has similar properties as fiberglass.

  • Cellulose – Shredded paper treated with fire retardant makes excellent blown-in insulation.

  • Rigid foam – Polystyrene or polyurethane foam boards have high insulating properties.

  • Spray foam – Foam insulation sprayed in as a liquid provides a seamless air barrier.

  • Natural materials – Options like cotton, sheep’s wool, hemp and straw also work for insulation.

For maximum energy efficiency, it’s usually best to use proper insulation like fiberglass, mineral wool or rigid foam whenever possible. But newspaper can be a quick, inexpensive solution for small insulation jobs or filling in leftover gaps. With some simple preparation and installation techniques, recycled newspaper can become an effective form of insulation in your home.