Fiberglass vs Cellulose

To install TAP or Borate laced Insulation… (in Pennsylvania)
The Installer needs to be Licensed as a Pesticide Applicator…
(General Pesticide / Category 11)
North Carolina may vary…

Wow Joseph, PA requires one to be licensed as pest control applicators…that’s crazy, do they require those who build decks with borate treated wood to be applicators.

NC only requires that you be licensed at an insulation contractor or you can work under the GC’s license.

It was very important in Canada’s recent past back to the early 1980’s with the “R2000 Energy-efficient House” program.

As I said
NC may vary…

Pesticide Laced Insulation
has to be installed by a Licensed Applicator in PA…

Under the Home Improvement Contractor Licensing (PA HIC)
Sub-Contractors need to be licensed individually along with Insurance and background checks (as required).

No protection stating that you are working under someone else.
Each Company Employee and Sub-Contractor on the job
must pass the same criteria.

We do substantial work for the School System in PA.
Every Employee must pass
PA State and Federal background checks (with fingerprints) annually…

Actual Boric Acid is used in most cellulose insulation as a fire retardant which is used to kill all different kinds of insects. This is what I was referring to.

As I mentioned in the previous post, there are different qualities. I cannot imagine there having to be some special license to handle borate. It occurs naturally. On the other hand, some cellulose manufactures use ammonium sulfate instead.


PA has 23 classifications of pesticide application.
Just like a Homeowner can buy and add Chlorine to their pool, if they hire someone to do that, that contractor has to be licensed as a CPO…
your government at work

hehe, crazy.

Another good resource is the National Fiber website…I am too lazy to find the link right now. If you ask around the industry with the people in the “know”, National Fiber does it right. They have the contract for a few large newspapers on the east coast to get their extras. So their cellulose is pure paper. They all use all borate vs ammonium sulfate. Their product will go further. Others use paper from recycling centers (IE waist management, etc) and it has all kinds of smaller items that they cannot get out 100%. For example, plastics and heavier items that will not be “fluffy” when installed. The items will simply fall to the bottom of the installation area.

The entire supply chain for cellulose is an interesting business. These guys have their competitive shipping distances so well defined they know how far out, to the mile, before they cross someone else’s completion boundary. The manufactures also find ways to stuff more weight in to the same dimension bag to further increase their ability to ship it further. I believe that US Green Fiber is the only company that can supply the entire US. You will find them in most of the big box stores.

Jason Kaylor
VP of Specialty Products
AC Tool Supply

Installers hate that stuff that floats around, wreaks havoc with the machine!!!

Which degrades after 2 - 3 years. Cellulose is mold food.

I don’t like either. Spray foam (open cell for wood frame, closed cell for masonry), especially Icynene, is the best. R value, air seal and vapor barrier all in one. Remember, different “best” for different areas. My choice is the best fit for this area (Chicagoland) based upon local conditions.

Hope this helps;

Or not, now that the “politically correct” police have been neutered. :mrgreen:

Spray foam would be ideal, but the costs is just out of the average homeowner’s price range.

  1. Around here, about 25% more that fiberglass.
  2. Payback is quick.
  3. With better insulation, especially the air sealing qualities, you can downsize the HVAC mechanicals. I had a new construction that the J manual called for 7.8 tons of A/C, where they downsized to 2.5 tons and everything is hunky-dory. Similar with the furnaces.
  4. Look long term, not short term. Think of all the water intrusion and “settling” issues with drywall that will be solved. Think of the humidity and building envelope problems that can be avoided.

And, no, I am NOT being paid off. Just basic building science.

Hope this helps;

Around here what you are saying is like trying to sell my thorough high priced home inspection compared to average low cost quickie home inspection, performed by most other inspectors in my area. Most will not go for it but a few smart ones will.
Geothermal is a no brainier in my area. With all the taxes rebates, a full system only actually costs about three thousand dollars. Most people cannot wrap their heads around it. If somebody does not understand, they will automatically say, No. Sad but true.

If an attic exists, bring it in to the thermal boundary with spray foam then move the mechanical systems into the attic is big savings. When we start seeing Net Zero homes in 2020 in California, this will be a standard. It can also potentially add additional living space if the attic is big enough.

Spray foam is not the ideal retrofit product. Cellulose is. Foam injection is an option, but it is even more expensive than standard spray foam. The payback period on foam injection is normally way too long. The other issue with spray foam is the cost to get in to the business. That cost has to be absorbed by the contractor which is then passed on to the consumer. We sell fiber machines (cellulose, fiberglass, rockwool, etc) and spray foam equipment. The cheap spray foam rigs are $60k+. The good ones can go for as much as $100k. There are basically only two options for equipment with Graco being a 95% market share. With so much market share they effectively operate as a monopoly. Just the hose they use alone is $20 a foot minimum…WOW! The most expensive cellulose machine that I know of goes for upwards of $100k as well, but very few contractors need that type of production. In the retrofit world a machine can easily be had for less than $6k all inclusive, including dense ability and kit. A large gas machine that is capable of wet spray can be had for less than $35k all inclusive.

Spray foam is not even close to the best product for new construction. ICF, with I-Form for the roof, out performs it by a long shot. If the equipment and foam manufacturers do not wake up to their pricing soon, ICF and I-Form will take over the new construction market and put them all out of business. The product is already much better and has basically the same construction price, at the end of the day. The ICF people are starting to really focus on U value vs R value, which is a way more scientific means to determine performance. I-Form is essentially an R-8 (poly is actually R-11 in some tests) per inch and effectively performs with near zero thermal bridging. ICF with I-Form roofing can improve efficiency by as much as 70% of current national averages with high performance mechanical systems. If and when solar systems come down in price, Net Zero homes should not be too difficult to build.

We did an IR job for that exact kind of construction on a church here in AZ. It was impressive to say the least. One of these days I am going to go back there and pull an ACH number. It wouldn’t shock me to see Passive House type of numbers on it.


Insulation projected growth article.


Originally Posted by An HI
It was very important in Canada’s recent past back to the early 1980’s with the “R2000 Energy-efficient House” program

The R2000 program was a voluntary program for progressive builders. It basically had three performance criteria:

  1. structure had to meet a minimum air tightness level
  2. projected HVAC energy use had to meet a minimum
  3. building had to have a distributed fresh air and exhaust system (usually through an HRV)

As long as the building met the building code and achieved the above requirements, it could be a R2000 certified low energy home. No one was ever forced into this program.

Many aspects of the early R2000 program have now been added to our national building code and is or soon will be in yours. When done properly, a healthier, much more enregy efficient and durable home is produced.

A few facts:

-Canadian Joe Lstiburek worked in this program before moving to the US. Joe had much input into the Build America program. His company is one of the 6-7 main participants in the program.
-another Canadian engineer that cut his teeth with R2000 works with another Build America partner.
-The Health House program promoted by the American Lung Association was first introduced in Minneapolis by folks who wnet to Winnipeg, Manitoba to view R2000 houses and their health attributes; then brought the ideas home. BTW, Joe Lstiburek was co-chair of the technical committee for the current Health House guidelines.
-The need for HRV’s spawned by the R2000 program allowed 3-4 Canadian manufacturers to emerge. Most of the branded HRV’s (Lennox, Carrier, Rheem/Ruud, Bryant, Broan, Sears, Payne, Day & Night, Heil, York, Nutone, Weatherking, Honeywell, American Aldes, Raydot and more) sold in the US are made here in Canada.

Sounds like poor construction knowledge and practice is a “local condition”!

Cellulose for sure! The most bang for your energy saving buck would be to air seal any bypasses in your attic.

I guys,
as i read this thread no one seem to know why we are blowing cellulose over fiberglass batt insulation,

i been doing all type of insulation for over 20 years and here is why we are doing it, like you know fiberglass insulation loss 35% of is R value and more when it is exposed to cold temperature like minus 20 C. and fiberglass is also a very poor air barrier.

Once cellulose is blown over fiberglass, then fiberglass insulation is not exposed to cold temperature any more and it perform a lot better, cellulose , once settle (after few days) is a better air barrier so, result is less warm air in the cold attic causing condensation.

Also 10 inch of cellulose is not heavy enough to compact fiberglass (less than a pound by SQFT at 12 inch thick), good quality cellulose with borax mixed in it will keep insects, mold and mice away

peoples who’s disagree with that, are just don’t know what there talking about :slight_smile: