Tiny House Giant Journey's Rigid Foam Board Insulation
Many tiny housers live in cold and hot climates. There are Tumbleweeds that muscle through Alaskan winters (such as Heather's Cypress and Nathan's Cypress) and ones that chill-out during Louisiana summers (such as Art's Elm) and protect against Florida's humidity (such as Emily's Elm). High quality insulation is one of the BIG benefits about living in a tiny home versus a conventional RV.
When choosing which insulation to use in your tiny home, the three key factors to consider are: 1) R-Value, 2) Loose Fill vs. Closed, 3) Environmental Impact.
R-values represent the extent to which insulation resists heat flow; a higher R-value means more insulating value.
For example, in Alaska R-values for roofs should approximate R-38 to R-49; for walls, R-21; and for floors R-15 to R-19 (according to this source). It will be important for you to determine the amount of insulation you need for your particular location. You can learn more about recommended R-value per region by clicking here.
Types of Insulation and their R-values (per inch)
Rigid Foam: R5-7 per inch
Spray Foam: R6-7 per inch
Wool: R3.5-3.8 per inch
Cotton Batts: R3-4 per inch
Fiberglass Batts: R3-4 per inch
*For a list of types of insulation click here.
2) Loose Fill Vs. Closed
Some insulations are closed, which means that they create a vapor barrier or air seal and will provided extra strength within your walls. An example of closed insulation is spray foam, which is the typical insulation we use in our ready-made Houses-to-Go.
Other insulations are loose fill, such as wool insulation, cellulose insulation and even shredded recycled paper insulation. This means that the material is—you guessed it—loosely packed within your walls. These types of insulations are easy to install and can fit within tight, awkward spaces. Keep in mind that some types of loose fill insulations will require an additional vapor barrier.
3) Environmental Impact
Whenever you are building a home, whether it be a tiny home or a mansion, you have the option to choose greener materials. This choice depends on your own personal preference, but it is an important factor to weigh if you intend on installing the insulation yourself. Some insulations contain harmful fibers and will require a respirator when installing, such as fiberglass insulation.
Wool insulation is a natural and sustainable product; cotton denim insulation is made from non-toxic recycled materials. These materials will not require off-gassing and are consider green insulation alternatives.
Comment below on which type of insulation you would use in your tiny home!
Check back soon for an article on Tiny House heating!
Jenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.