Busting 4 Common Myths About Wood Fiber Insulation

The manufacturing of wood fiber insulation in the US only began in 2023, but the history of wood in construction is extensive. In many ways, this innovative building technology is very, very old.

The first wood buildings were constructed more than 10,000 years ago in the Neolithic period. Even as Egyptian pyramids were built from stone and Roman temples were formed from marble, most residential buildings were made with wood. And while 92% of contemporary homes still use wood for framing, the development of new building technologies and improved manufactured materials in the 1900’s diversified the ingredients in our homes. Vinyl or brick made up exteriors, asphalt covered roofs, and fiberglass or spray foam insulation was popularized.

Now on the market for homeowners and building contractors in the US for the first time, wood fiber insulation is returning some ancient practices and benefits to residential construction. It’s no surprise that this innovation comes with some myths, so let’s discuss the four most common assumptions or misconceptions about wood fiber insulation.

1. Wood Fiber is More Flammable Than Other Types of Insulation

For all the millennia that wood has been a construction material, it has been a fuel source for thousands more. In fact, today wood is the main source of energy for more than 2 billion people, providing 14% of the world’s total energy. From fireplaces to wood stoves, we understand why there’s an association between wood and fire. Not to mention the fear of being subject to America’s more than 350,000 annual house fires.

But the truth is, we love this misconception. Because we love explaining how loose fill and batt wood fiber insulation get an ASTM E84 Class A Flame and Smoke Spread rating. After being steamed and refined, our wood fiber is blended with small amounts of Borate, a mineral that lends natural flame-retardant properties to the finished insulation. Meanwhile, our dense and durable wood fiber board earns a Class B fire rating without any added chemical flame retardants, outperforming foam board competitors.

These properties help prevent fire from spreading within your home, reduce the intensity of the heat and can allow walls to withstand flames for 1-2 hours. Don’t believe us? Check out how our TimberBoard performs in this flame test.

You can learn more about fire prevention and how wood fiber insulation contributes to the safety of residential and commercial buildings in this blog about National Fire Protection Agency testing.

2. Wood Fiber Insulation Will Absorb Moisture

If you’ve ever seen a fallen tree, soggy and rotten, laying in the woods while out on a hike—or worse, seen the crumbling porch of an old home—you know what moisture can do to wood, and it’s not pretty. When choosing between types of insulation, it’s understandable that you would want to avoid the need to replace rotten wood down the line.

We have good news for you: wood fiber insulation has the unique ability to allow moderate indoor humidity to pass through while resisting buildup of moisture. This is all thanks to its vapor open, breathable nature. So, when you shower or boil a pot of water for pasta, that moisture passes through your wood fiber insulation without reducing its R-value, preventing buildup that can lead to condensation and even mold.

Wood fiber boards are made with waxes and resins that make them hydrophobic, repelling bulk moisture so that your home stays dry in rain, snow, or other inclement weather. In fact, TimberBoard can be left exposed at construction sites for 3-6 months with compromising resilience.

Even better, when wood fiber insulation does get wet, it manages that moisture much like a living tree, spreading it evenly among fibers to maintain a consistent R-value. You can read more about this vapor open system or watch our water test below.

Wood Fiber Insulation Kills Trees

Globally, we lose around 5 million hectares of forest each year, which not only destroys habitats and diminishes priceless biodiversity but also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. This is a serious threat to the future health of our planet and people, which is exactly why we set out to create a product that reduces and even reverses the acceleration of global warming.

Our wood fiber insulation is made with leftover wood chips and wood waste from sustainable forest management and lumber production. We work with local lumber mills, sawmills, and forestry businesses to reroute their existing waste streams as our primary feedstock. Not only does this provide purpose to their residuals, but it also helps support their continued stewardship of Maine’s forests. In fact, Maine’s forest harvest rate is currently 30% below the replacement rate, with new trees sequestering additional carbon. This local system keeps our carbon footprint small, requiring minimal transportation compared to other products such as glass, sand, or chemicals for foam.

wood fiber insulation waste chips lumber mill refined

The finished wood insulation products themselves capture and store CO2 for the lifetime of the building. Unlike any other types of insulation, wood fiber products have a net negative carbon footprint of -9kg CO2 per 100 square feet. The answer to diminishing forests is not to ignore our timber resources, but rather to build systems that sustainably use and regrow them. Mass timber construction and products like wood fiber insulation are renewable, carbon-storing components of these systems.

Wood Fiber Insulation is More Expensive

Many of the same elements that make wood fiber insulation good for the environment also make it good for your wallet. Use of existing waste streams, minimal transportation, and even the conversion of an abandoned paper mill into our manufacturing facility contribute to our ability to price our wood fiber insulation competitively with conventional types of insulation like rock wool, fiberglass, and cellulose. We consider cost in every step of design and production. For example, wood fiber insulation uses a lower volume of Borate—the most expensive ingredient in our products—by weight than cellulose, keeping it more cost stable.

Our goal is to make wood insulation products mainstream and ultimately transform the building industry, which means ensuring our insulation is cost accessible to architects, contractors, and homeowners alike. In fact, we hope other manufacturers across the US take up the project of manufacturing wood fiber insulation, giving consumers more options and spreading this sustainable product to new markets.

We’re networking with new distributors every day, so check your area map for stockers near your and their local prices.

What Questions Do You Have About Wood Fiber Insulation?

We could talk about wood fiber insulation all day, so we welcome any questions or myths you still have about it. Need to know how to handle wood insulation on a jobsite? Or whether it can be used in your foundation? Want to get into the technical details of R-value for different types of insulation? Visit our wood fiber insulation FAQs to start digging in. We also host educational events, both in person and online where you can learn more about our products, sustainable building practices, and ask our team your burning questions. And of course, you can always send specific inquiries through our contact form.