Last Updated Jun 8, 2011 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald
Are you looking for insulation that is effective, cheap, and extremely environmentally friendly? You may not have heard of it before, but papercrete insulation ticks all these boxes and more. We’ve put together a great guide but for more information, see our insulation feature or chat to an insulation installer near you.
Papercrete insulation is a relatively new product and it is made up of pulped paper fibres mixed with cement. It is a very green material as it is made up largely of recycled paper that can come from newspaper, junk mail, magazines, books, and so on. The paper can be pulped with or without water, depending on the type of mixer used. The papercrete is put into forms to set. Once it is fully cured, it can be coated with a waterproof material to stop water from entering and causing problems.
Papercrete is not commonly used for load bearing walls but it is perfect as insulation as it can be used in between internal walls and the external cladding, preferably with a structural steel frame.
There are several benefits to using papercrete as an insulating material in your home. First of all, it is very insulating which is great as it stops heat from entering in summer and leaving the home in winter. This makes your interior temperature much more stable and reduces your dependence on mechanical heating and cooling. Cross ventilation or night flush ventilation should be more than adequate to reduce interior temperatures if it does become warm inside on very hot days. As well as being a good thermal insulator, papercrete can also be a very effective sound insulator and this is worth considering if you live in noisy areas.
Even though papercrete is largely made from paper, it will not catch flame if exposed to fire but it will smoulder. The more cement or minerals that are added to the mix, the more fireproof it becomes. This is something to consider if you live in fire prone areas. Papercrete is also resistant to rodents and other insects.
Papercrete is very low in cost due to the fact that few “raw” materials are needed – all you need is some old paper, some cement, and some water. The materials are also very easy to source. Papercrete is also much lighter than standard concrete as it is 80 percent air.