What are the Different Types of Roofing Insulation?

A. B. Kelsey

Adding or replacing roofing insulation is a great way to make a home more energy efficient. The standard insulation in older homes was fiberglass batts. Although fiberglass might insulate your home quite well, it is also contains a toxic, carcinogenic substance called formaldehyde. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of healthier and more environmentally friendly roofing insulation options now available.

Styrofoam is popular for different insulation projects.
Styrofoam is popular for different insulation projects.

Perhaps the most popular way to insulate a roof in an eco-friendly fashion is by using recycled cellulose fiber. Made with paper products like recycled newspaper, this insulation option is more expensive than the traditional fiberglass products, but it has a higher R-value, or insulating quality. The end result is an insulation that is better for your health and can save you money.

Cellulose fiber is made from recycled newspaper.
Cellulose fiber is made from recycled newspaper.

Recycled cellulose fiber insulation is usually blown into the roof area using a special compressed air blower. This type of roofing insulation is typically treated with boric acid, an environmentally friendly way to make the insulation fire and mildew resistant. This treatment also works as a vermin repellent and can help deaden external sounds.

Another trash into roofing insulation treasure is recycled denim. Made from denim and other cotton waste, this insulation is a bit easier to handle than the recycled cellulose insulation. Where the latter is loose and blown-in, the recycled denim comes in rolls and is fairly easy for a do-it-yourselfer to install. Denim insulation is great for holding heat and absorbing sound. It is also treated with boric acid, making it fire retardant and bug and rodent repellant.

Soy insulation is another earth friendly option for insulating a roof. Made from soybean oil, this insulation is sprayed into the roof area of your home, where it expands to fill any cracks before it hardens. This type of roofing insulation is flame resistant and will last the life of the building.

Sheep’s wool is perhaps one of the best roofing insulation options on the market today, but it is also one of the most expensive. This insulation is naturally flame retardant and moisture repellent. It requires the least amount of energy to produce and does not irritate respiratory systems. Sheep’s wool roofing insulation has a long life and can be reused and composted.

Although fiberglass has been the number one roofing insulation product for many years, there are now more eco-friendly and healthier options available. By using one of the insulation options mentioned above, homeowners can reduce their energy footprint, decrease exposure to toxic substances and save a substantial amount on heating and cooling bills.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Out house inspector suggested we add some more insulation in our attic because what was there was not nearly enough. When he said insulation, I automatically thought of the foam roof insulation rolls. But the inspector said he knew someone who could come in and blow in insulation in a matter of minutes and the cost wouldn't be too much.

We're definitely leaning in this direction. Now we need to figure out what material will work best for us.


This article says that fiberglass contains a toxin, but you shouldn't immediately assume that because you have or have had fiberglass insulation in the attic of your house you are going to absolutely get cancer, or even that your risk for cancer is going to be increased by a large percentage.

I have installed fiberglass in hundreds of houses and I am fine. I'm not saying you shouldn't buy the insulation made from recycled denim or recycled newspaper. Choosing the safer product is natural. However, don't rush to any conclusions about just how your attic roof insulation might have damaged your health.


We have always used fiberglass insulation, and I didn't have any idea just how harmful it could be. Fortunately, me nor my family spent any time in direct contact with the fiberglass and we haven't seen any obvious health problems because of the insulation, but this is something to think about.

I will definitely choose one of the environmentally friendly forms of roofing insulation from this point on.

Post your comments
Forgot password?