Question

Can I safely re-use old cotton batting for attic insulation?

Asked by Paul Richard, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Can the cotton fill from old futons be safely recycled for attic insulation? My main concern is fire risk.

Answer

Dietmar Lorenz

Answered by Dietmar Lorenz

April 5, 2007

Most cotton futons are treated with boric acid in the form of borate powder, the same flame retardant used in cotton insulation. Borate also increases mold and mildew resistance. Unless you have a natural, untreated futon, the fill might be comparable to cotton insulation.

However, getting approval from a building department may be tricky. The amount of borate in your futon is probably unknown, and the material did not undergo the strict testing protocols that commercial insulation products typically require. The Uniform Building Code sets limits for flame-spread and smoke density (UBC 707.3), and a building inspector might call you on those. The UBC has provisions for alternative materials, but you would have to demonstrate to a building department official that the material is suitable. You could get yourself a sample of cotton insulation and compare the flammability to your futon fill.

It’s a good idea. If it works, somebody should turn it into a business.

For more information:

UltraTouch recycled cotton insulation is an easy-to-install product with no chemical irritants, great for DIY insulation projects.

Tagged In: insulation, attic insulation

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.