Wood Fiber FAQ
Is Insulating With Wood Fiber A New Technology?
The insulating properties of wood fiber have been well documented for centuries. Our human ancestors used sawdust to insulate their homes. Sawdust also played a key role in early refrigeration in North America before the invention of electricity and modern refrigerators and freezers. During winter months, ice cut from rivers, lakes and streams would be stored in ice houses. Sawdust would then be used to keep the ice frozen throughout the summer months, until the following winter. Ice houses slowly fell out of favor with the advent of refrigeration, but wood fiber has continued to play a role in insulation in North America. For more than 80 years, wet-process manufacturing has been used to produce fiberboard for use as exterior sheathing, roof insulation and sound dampening. TimberHP is using the dry method of manufacturing to produce our wood fiber insulation. The dry method originated in Europe more than twenty years ago. There are currently 15 manufacturing facilities on the continent. The European market for wood fiber insulation is currently oversold. All major manufacturers on the continent have expansion plans in the works to meet this surging demand.
How Are The Wet And Dry Processes Different?
In wet-process board product manufacturing, wood chips and shavings are ground and mixed with water and adhesives for binding. The resulting pulp is compressed and dried to form fiberboard sheets. Dry-process manufacturing begins the same way with the grinding of shavings and chips into a pulp, which is then dried and mixed with a pMDI binder and paraffin wax to enhance water resistance. The mixture is then compressed and cured with steam and pressure. Dry manufacturing produces board products with a greater range of densities and the entire process uses 40% less energy than the wet method.
Can Wood Fiber Insulation Be Shipped To North America From Europe In Large Quantities?
Freight costs combined with high production costs limit the sale of European wood fiber insulation in North America to select projects where the higher price is not a factor.
What Insulation Products Will TimberHP Offer And How Do They Compare In Cost To Other Insulations?
TimberHP will offer three insulation products:
- TimberBoard—an exterior continuous insulation board for above-grade walls and roofs
- TimberBatt—a flexible, press-fit batt insulation for wood frame stud cavities
- TimberFill—a blown-in insulation for attic spaces and wall, floor, and roof cavities
TimberHP insulation will be priced to compete with all conventional residential insulations on the North American market.
How Are TimberHP Products Made?
There are similarities and differences in how each TimberHP insulation product is made. Each process begins with the same raw materials: wood chips, left over from lumber production, and low-value woody debris from FSC certified forestlands. The manufacturing processes diverge once the raw material is ground up.
To make loose fill, we steam the wood fiber, refine it, mix it with borate and send it through a flash tube dryer. Our batts are made by taking the same treated fiber, blending it with polyester fibers, pressing it together, baking it in an oven and sending it through a finishing line. To make TimberHP boards, we refine softwood fiber, then add pMDI adhesive and paraffin to create a single-ply continuous insulation board.
Where Does The Wood Come From To Produce TimberHP Wood Fiber Insulation? Will The Product Line Strain Our Wood Supply?
Our insulation is a true byproduct of Maine’s timber industry. TimberHP batts, boards and loose fill are predominantly made from softwood chips, the residuals from sawmilling, and low-value pulpwood removed from stands of timber throughout the state.
Maine’s forest resource is underutilized due to the closure of six paper mills in the state since 2016. Maine can reliably produce over 13 million tons of certified wood a year. The state’s current forest harvest is more than 30% below replacement rate.
Does Wood Fiber Insulation Increase Fire Risks For Buildings?
TimberHP loose fill and batt insulations are treated with borate in the manufacturing process. Treating wood with borate compounds protects against threats posed by fire, fungi, mold and mildew. Resulting from the introduction of borate, TimberHP batts and loose fill products achieve Class A flame spread ratings. While not treated with flame retardants, TimberHP continuous insulation boards have their own inherent ability to prevent flame spread. When hit with flame, our high-density boards go through a carbonization process, resulting in a protective exterior layer that prevents rapid combustion. The carbonization process allows the boards to withstand significant fire exposure and delay flame spread.
What Happens When Moisture Enters Wood Fiber Insulation Assemblies?
Wood fiber insulation offers high vapor permeability allowing for drying to both the inside and outside of buildings. Wood fiber board can hold 15% of its weight in moisture without losing insulating properties. Through capillary action, moisture is spread out across the insulation and dries either to the inside or outside of the building depending on temperature, pressure, and humidity levels. Wood fiber boards are also hydrophobic, repelling bulk moisture during construction and extreme weather events.
Does Wood Fiber Insulation Meet New Energy Code Standards For Buildings?
Yes! The ongoing strengthening of building codes across the Northeast, where TimberHP will launch its products into the market, make TimberBoard, TimberBatt and TimberFill an ideal fit for the single- family and multifamily wood frame construction that dominate this colder region. Adoption of the 2015-2018 IECC code, requiring an additional layer of exterior insulation to create a “thermal break” in the wall, is already being adopted across the Northeast. TimberHP insulation will offer the most affordable, high performance solution to satisfy these new code requirements.
When Will TimberHP Begin Producing At The Madison, Maine Facility?
TimberHP expects to begin producing loose fill insulation at the Madison, Maine facility in summer of 2023. Our board and batt products will be in production by fall and winter of 2023, respectively.
Where Can I Buy TimberHP Products?
Consumers can expect to be able to buy TimberHP insulation products from retail insulation and building materials dealers throughout the Northeast. Please visit our Find a Distributor page for more information.
What Are The R-Values Associated With Each Product Line?
- TimberBoard—R 3.5-3.75/inch
- TimberBatt—R 4.0/inch
- TimberFill—R ~3.8/inch
How Does Wood Fiber Insulation Help Regulate The Temperature Of My Home And Drive Down Cooling And Heating Loads?
Wood fiber insulation has low thermal conductivity and high heat capacity. It balances temperature swings in conditioned spaces. Wood fiber insulation absorbs heat slowly over time and can release warmth when cooler conditions exist. Thus, it balances temperature swings in conditioned spaces, reducing cooling loads. The significant R-value and density of each product blocks cold temperatures and air leaks from compromising our conditioned spaces.
How Exactly Does Wood Fiber Insulation Function Like Gore-Tex?
GORE-TEX is a great model for explaining what makes wood fiber insulation such an attractive, high performing choice for a building envelope. Much the same as clothing made of GORE-TEX, wood fiber insulation assemblies offer not only R-value but also a wind-tight seal and the ability to manage moisture. Indoor humidity can easily move through wood fiber boards, batts, and loose fill without getting trapped, allowing the building to dry to both the inside and outside of the structure. Though vapor open, wood fiber boards are hydrophobic, blocking bulk moisture from Mother Nature.
How Do Vapor-Open Designs Improve Building Resilience And Indoor Air Quality?
Vapor-open assemblies avoid trapping humidity. They allow structures to breathe. No trapped moisture means less chance for mold, mildew, and rot, resulting in greater structural integrity for the building and less chance for harmful respiratory issues indoors.
What Happens If I Leave Wood Fiber Insulation Boards Exposed During Building Construction?
TimberHP insulation boards are hydrophobic and repel water. Our boards can withstand at least three months of exposure to UV rays and bulk moisture on a job site without degradation of the product.
Is There Any Special Training Or Equipment Required For The Installation Of The Product Line?
Traditional wood cutting tools work well for both TimberBoard and TimberBatt. Professional installers may choose to use specialized tools. TimberBoard features continuous tongue and groove detailing making installation efficient and easy. The flexibility of TimberBatt offers a quick, friction-fit installation that effectively fills the stud cavity with little concern of voids or air leaks. Popular insulation blowers on the market work well for dense packing TimberFill or blowing it into attic spaces.
What Safety Precautions Should Be Followed When Handling And Installing Wood Fiber Insulation?
The only byproduct from the cutting and handling of TimberHP wood fiber insulation is sawdust. Our products neither emit, nor leave behind, dangerous fibers or toxins. Installers don’t have to worry about suffering from skin irritation or respiratory issues when installing TimberHP wood fiber insulation.
How Does Wood Fiber Insulation Impact The Environment?
TimberHP wood fiber insulation is a superior, carbon-negative alternative to conventional insulation. Our products are renewable—made, in part, from certified softwood chips. Our products are also fully recyclable, nontoxic and carbon storing.
What Does It Mean For A Product To Be Carbon Storing?
Carbon-storing wood products used in construction yield a net benefit to the atmosphere. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is taken up by trees and, through photosynthesis, is stored as carbon in biomass. At the end of the tree’s life, when left to decay, this stored carbon returns to the atmosphere, slowly. Using wood as the source material for building products can delay the release of carbon for the life of a building and potentially far longer.
Will Wood Fiber Insulation Minimize Noise Inside The Home?
Wood fiber insulation offers industry leading acoustics and unmatched sound dampening in residential spaces, creating safe, quiet habitats.
How Long Will Wood Fiber Insulation Last?
Once installed, wood fiber insulation will last the lifetime of the building where installed.
Can I Use Wood Fiber For My Foundation Insulation?
Wood fiber insulation is not recommended for use as exterior perimeter insulation below grade. If a basement has been fully waterproofed, wood fiber insulation can be an option for interior applications in some buildings.
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