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Can shredded paper be used for insulation? Answered

i was up in my attic the other day and noticed that one of the rooms in my apartment has no insulation above it and there are a few bare patches over some of the others. could i dump bags of shredded paper up there to add some insulation value?


I know im super late to the party but cellulose insulation is just paper thats been finely shredded. Then, one important thing is done and that is soak it in BORAX. That makes it flame retardant and bugs hate Borax.



8 years ago

jtobako is right proper insulation is not that hard to come by- for free even.
If you must use paper, I have made 'papercrete' blocks- basically paper mache with a tiny bit of cement in, the samples I made have been stored in my loft unprotected for about 4 years now without any degradation- and I know we have mice that have nibbled other stuff up there, including plastic. the cement (add a bit of sand too) will probably act as fire retardant.

personally I would scavenge some styrofoam or bubblewrap and use that.

If you want lethal insulation, there's an instructable that features plastic bottles wrapped in plastic bags! I'd say that was marginally worse than shredded paper. Also, though, shredded paper is great bedding for animals, so expect pests to live up there, and for it to compact right down over a few years until it is more like papier mache and not much use as insulation.

You CAN do that - it reduces airflow, without adding too much heat-transferring mass. It's a decent insulator- BUT BUT BUT. Always a 'but'. paper is one of the most flammable insulation types available. If you get a particularly hot day, attics can get stupidly hot, and it's not unheard-of for this stuff to burst into flames. Recycled paper insulation has tonnes of fire-retardant material impregnated in the fibers.

or can be formed into bricks and wrapped with aluminium foil each ?

A metal shell will conduct heat around the insulating material. However, a nice shiny foil can be used in a single layer on the warm side of your insulation to help reflect heat back into the home.

will the thin walls of the shell (those that go from one side to another) really have so much effect ?

I'd be surprised if they didn't. It bears testing. We need potatoes, a bbq, and some foil.

in potatoes and bbq its across the thin walls here the question is conducting heat along the thin vertical walls - like in

heat blocks.png

Well I was joking about the barbecue... I think I might have been hungry. It's testable, but I'm not geared up to handle it... but another issue is gaps... will the gaps between each alluminum brick allow a significant exchange of heat?

waffling the sidewalls would give them better interlock, while increasing the distance heat has to travel to get thru the 'high heat conductor' area. Covering the faces of the aluminium blocks wouldn't change the r-value much (almost totally insignificant)

Eerie how intelligent people on instructables can get. I'd be interested in a test of this whole foil-idea.

I doubt an attic would get up to 451 degrees...

not to spontaneous combustion, but hot materials are already closer to their catch point, it only takes a warm or improperly installed light receptacle to ignite it. :S

1. Why would there be a light in the attic? 2. If there was a light in the attic, why would it be on? 3. I still doubt that's plausible.

The whole question goes hand in hand with discussions on problems with older homes. In my place of birth, it was quite common up until around the 1970's to use newspapers and flyers, old rags, etc as insulation in the home. I dismantled a house of an old mechanic once that featured a nice combination of empty (but unrinsed) oil cans and oily rags as insulation. But the biggest risk is wires that run through the insulation material. We have better safety standards now, but back then it might have been too-thin bare-copper wire held in place by nails. You can see the problem. Anyway I think frollard was suggesting that a light fixture on the ceiling BELOW the attic could cause a problem and I'm inclined to agree, especially given the many horrible light fixtures I've seen and sold over the years.

pot lights, are situated 'outside of the room' and 'inside the attic'. If not insulated, they can have some hot surfaces - especially if you put the wrong kind of bulb in. *that NEVER happens.

Good point. I actually forgot about the pot lights, mostly because our supplier actually asked us not to suggest them and only sell it if it was asked for.

As a 'user', I think pot lights are delightful - using LOTS at low intensities can mimic sunlight better, imo. They're more of a pain to have installed and wired correctly (especially with no access from above.)

They're fantastic for some situations. But, we tried to push them on contractors and electricians, because they came with a rather long list of warning which an "average" homeowner might ignore. We did have one really awesome one, it included a 3'x3'x3' insulated metal box around the fixture so there was no possible way to say pack a bunch of cardboard boxes directly atop a halogen bulb.

Most likely it's dangerous because a fire is already started, and it just causes it to grow faster- a.k.a. making it more dangerous.

yes, paper can be used for insulation. the homeless use it in thier coats, socks, pants, and gloves to hold in heat, and i've seen documentaries of stuff on 3rd world countries using newspapers to insulate the walls of thier homes. i've used a combination of newspapers and paper towels like the homeless do when i was walking home from a friend's house at 3am in a foot of snow in -15 degree weather with a friend of mine. it worked great. but yeah, if you use it to insulate your home, pack it really tight so air can't get in it, which will help prevent fires.

Anything can be used for insulation. It's just a question of how well it insulates.

Commercial insulation isn't that expensive. If you want to be recycling, cellulose insulation is ground paper (you can still read the occasional word ) that has been treated to be fire-retardant. For insurance reasons you probably don't want to spread shredded paper out, leave it in the plastic bags. That way you can decrease air flow and, if the landlord ever wants to upgrade to good insulation or charge you extra for the mess, it's easier to remove : )