“Using Newspaper as Insulation – The Recycled Solution Nobody Wants To Talk About”

“Using Newspaper as Insulation – The Recycled Solution Nobody Wants To Talk About”


Newspaper may seem like an unorthodox choice for insulation. However, using newspaper as insulation offers some unique benefits that make it worth consideration for certain applications. In this article, I will explore the pros and cons of newspaper insulation to help you determine if it could be a good solution for your insulation needs.

What is Newspaper Insulation?

Newspaper insulation is exactly what it sounds like – insulation made from recycled newspapers. The process involves shredding old newspapers into small pieces and then blowing the shredded paper into wall cavities or attics to act as insulation.

The loose newspaper fill acts as a thermal barrier just like traditional insulation materials such as fiberglass or cellulose. The crumpled paper trapped air pockets that reduce heat transfer through the insulated space.

Pros of Using Newspaper as Insulation

Using newspaper as insulation offers some potential advantages:

Environmentally Friendly

  • Newspaper insulation gives old newspapers new life in a useful application rather than sending them to the landfill. This supports recycling efforts and reduces waste.

Low Cost

  • Shredded newspaper is very affordable compared to traditional insulation like fiberglass. Cellulose may be cheaper, but newspaper is still one of the most budget friendly options.

Decent Insulating Value

  • Newspaper rates at R-1.4 per inch. This is lower than fiberglass (R-3) or cellulose (R-3.5), but still provides reasonable insulating protection.

Readily Available Material

  • Most people have easy access to used newspapers, making newspaper insulation a very convenient choice for DIY applications. No need to purchase and transport bulky insulation.

Cons of Newspaper Insulation

Using newspaper as insulation also comes with some downsides to consider:

Lower Insulating Value

  • As mentioned above, newspaper does not insulate as well per inch compared to typical insulation materials. More thickness is needed to achieve the recommended R-values.

Compression and Settling

  • Newspaper insulation tends to compress and settle over time. This reduces the insulating power and requires re-fluffing to maintain effectiveness.

Potential Fire Risk

  • Though no higher than cellulose, shredded newspaper is flammable. Proper fireproofing procedures should be utilized for safety.

Attracts Pests

  • Rodents or insects can be attracted to newspaper insulation as a nesting ground or food source. Precautions should be taken.

Poor Performance When Wet

  • Newspaper loses all insulating value when wet. It should only be used in applications protected from moisture risks.

When to Use Newspaper Insulation

Given the pros and cons, here are some of the best uses for newspaper insulation:

Attic Spaces

  • Attics provide an ideal environment for newspaper – dry, protected from pests, and rarely disturbed. The flammability risks are also lower here.

Interior Walls

  • Newspaper can work well for adding extra insulation to existing interior wall cavities through small access holes. This recycles newspapers conveniently during renovations.

Temporary Insulation

  • For a short-term temporary insulation need, newspaper may be the most accessible and affordable solution. Useful for seasonal spaces.

Draft Stopping

  • Shredded newspaper makes an inexpensive draft stopper for filling cracks and gaps that allow air leaks in a structure.

How to Install Newspaper Insulation

Installing newspaper insulation takes a bit more labor than traditional batt insulation, but it is a DIY friendly project. Follow these guidelines for proper installation:

Shred the Newspaper Finely

  • Use an industrial paper shredder or chop newspapers into approximately 1 inch pieces. The finer the shredding, the better it will insulate.

Add Fire Retardant (Recommended)

  • Mixing shredded newspaper with fire retardant chemicals improves fire safety. Borate-based treatments are effective options.

Pack it Densely

  • Light fluffy newspaper does not insulate well. Pack it densely into spaces, compressing it by at least 50%.

Install Vapor Barrier

  • Cover newspaper insulation with plastic sheeting or kraft facing as a vapor barrier on the warm side of insulation.

Allow Proper Ventilation

  • Make sure attic spaces or closed cavities have proper ventilation to avoid moisture buildup.

Get Proper R-Value

  • Approximately R-14 newspaper insulation is recommended for walls and R-30 for attics. Install sufficient thickness.

Newspaper Insulation – environmentally friendly but tricky

In summary, newspaper insulation is one of the most affordable, eco-friendly insulation solutions. However, it requires proper installation and has some drawbacks to consider. For the right applications, shredded newspaper can be an effective recycled insulation option on a tight budget. But it is probably not the best choice for all insulation needs.

As we seek more sustainable building practices, innovative recycled materials like newspaper merit further exploration. With some technical improvements to address newspaper’s shortcomings, it could become a mainstream green insulation option in the future. What do you think – is newspaper insulation a viable idea or just yesterday’s news? Let me know your thoughts below!