How to Use Tires as Insulation in Home Construction

How to Use Tires as Insulation in Home Construction

Using old tires as insulation in buildings and homes has become an increasingly popular option for eco-friendly and budget-conscious homeowners and builders. Tires can provide an effective insulating material while also keeping waste out of landfills.

Reasons to Use Tires as Insulation

There are several key reasons why tires may be a good insulation choice:

Environmentally Friendly

  • Reusing old tires keeps them out of landfills and reduces waste. Over 300 million tires are discarded in the United States each year. Using them for insulation gives them a new life.

Effective Insulator

  • The materials in tires make them excellent insulators. They have an R-value of approximately R-3.1 per inch. This is on par with other common insulation materials.

Affordable

  • Old tires can often be obtained very cheaply or for free, making tire insulation a budget-friendly option. New insulation costs $0.50-1 per square foot installed.

Fire Resistant

  • The high steel and rubber content of tires makes them very resistant to fire. This adds safety and security to a building.

Pest Resistant

  • Tires are unappealing to rodents and insects so they do not tend to nest in them. Traditional insulation faces more pest problems.

Sound Absorption

  • The dense rubber of tires blocks and dampens noise and vibration when used as insulation. This can reduce outdoor and indoor noise.

How to Install Tire Insulation

Installing tire insulation takes a bit more effort than traditional insulation but can save huge amounts of money. Here are the key steps:

Gather Materials

  • Old tires – source discarded tires for free or cheaply from junkyards, garages, etc.

  • Staple gun & staples – to attach tire pieces to walls and ceilings

  • Safety gloves & goggles – when cutting tires

  • Reciprocating saw – for cutting tires into strips

Prepare the Tires

  • Inspect the tires and ensure they are clean and dry

  • Cut the tires into 6-12 inch wide strips using a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade

  • Be sure to wear protective gloves and goggles during cutting

Install Against Studs

  • Place cut tire strips vertically against the studs of the wall

  • Leave 2-3 inches between strips to allow airflow

  • Use a staple gun to attach strips through back of the tire against the stud

Add Interior Finish

  • Once tires are attached to studs, add standard drywall or paneling overtop as the interior wall finish

  • This encloses the tires and provides an aesthetic interior wall surface

Consider Exterior Options

  • For exterior walls, tires can be applied in the same manner but would need to be sealed and covered with siding/exterior finish

  • Adobe or stucco are good exterior covering options over tires

Benefits and Considerations of Tire Insulation

Using old tires for insulation can be highly effective but there are some important benefits and considerations to note:

Temperature Regulation

  • Properly installed tire insulation provides excellent thermal regulation, keeping interiors cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Moisture Condensation

  • Allowing airflow between tire strips is vital to prevent moisture buildup from condensation.

Weight Load

  • Walls insulated with tires should not be load-bearing as the tire strips cannot adequately support heavy weight.

Off-Gassing

  • Some off-gassing of chemicals from the tire materials is possible initially after installation. This dissipates over time.

Fire Safety

  • Proper fire stops should be put in place within tire-insulated walls as an extra safety measure.

Smell

  • Some odor from the rubber is likely at first but also dissipates with time and airflow.

Overall, reusing tires as insulation can be an eco-friendly, economic option if installed properly. With the right preparation and finishing, tires can provide effective insulation for many buildings. They keep waste out of landfills and energy costs down.