May 23, 2012 – Our plans for the tiny house call for using polystyrene insulation; however, the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is in California and we didn’t feel as though this type of insulation would do for a tiny house in the UP. In addition, we are hoping to use as many natural, non-toxic components as possible when building the tiny house.
We started looking into our options and also discovering the options that are not such a good choice for a tiny house. For example, due to the small size of the tiny houses, excess moisture will be a potential issue. Some insulation options, such as natural denim, are not resistant to moisture and would probably not be a good choice for a tiny house.
We had originally decided to go with spray polyurethane foam (SPF); however, after reading some potential negative issues we decided against that route. Most of the information on-line will tell you that SPF is soy-based and non-toxic. However, there is conflicting information out there regarding SPF and how safe it is.
To err on the side of caution, we’ve opted to go with natural wool insulation from Oregon Shepherd http://www.oregonshepherd.com/. Through reading the blogs of other tiny house builders, we noted that a few of them also went with wool insulation. In fact, I called Oregon Shepherd to ask a few questions and place our order and was informed that due to the thorough question asking of Ella from the littleyellowdoor blog, Oregon Shepherd had decided to make a tiny house kit. The kit is based on the Fencl (the tiny house that we are building) and they’ve calculated the amount of material needed for the house. Thank you Ella and Oregon Shepherd for not making me re-invent the wheel!
George “Jordy” from Oregon Shepherd was able to answer all of my questions (including a follow-up call regarding dermestid beetles – a co-worker was concerned) and an order for wool has been placed! At first we were planning on only ordering enough for the floor, as it will be a little while before we’ll be insulating walls; however, to save on shipping costs, it made more sense to order it all at once. It should arrive in about a week! In addition to the wool insulation being a natural, sustainable product, I love to knit, and having wool in the walls is kind of cool! I hope to have my own small herd of sheep in the near future (along with alpacas, goats, and musk ox!) but until then I’ll at least know that it’s in my walls keeping me warm at night!
A few words on wool insulation from Oregon Shepherd:
Why Use Wool?
Since 8,000 BC, sheep have been able to adapt to even the harshest of environments; their wool protects them through hot, cold, damp and dry seasons. Because of their crimped nature, when wool fiber is packed together, it forms millions of tiny air pockets which trap air, and in turn serves to keep warmth in during winter and out in the summer.
The crimp in the wool fiber forces each strand to bump up against each other, as opposed to lining up side by side or laying down flat together. This keeps the tiny air pockets intact, acting as little insulators — the key to being able to keep you both warm and cool.
The unique advantage of wool as an insulator is the NATURE of the fiber.
- It absorbs and desorbs moisture, it heats and cools as this process takes place. Wool therefore can absorb moisture in your house, preventing condensation.
- It has plastic memory, not that there is any plastic in wool, but rather that technical description is used to explain the “crimp”; the ability to retain the shape it was in before it left the sheep.
- The energy required to produce our insulation is less than 10% of that required to produce traditional insulation materials.
- Wool can absorb and breakdown indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
- Wool is a sustainable and renewable resource; every year our sheep grow a new crop.
- Wool is completely recyclable; at the end of its life as insulation it can be remanufactured, reused, or biodegraded.
- Wool is an excellent absorbtion medium of sound waves; its inherent qualities provide much more acoustic insulation than traditional insulation in similar applications.
- While wool is generally fire resistant, our wool is treated with a 100% natural solution of organic materials that provide unequaled fire and vermin resistance. These materials are bonded chemically to the wool fiber, not merely “glued on” as in most other insulation products.