It’s the best-fitting and easiest-to-install of all the batt insulation products we’ve worked with.— Chris Magwood, The Endeavour Centre
NaturHemp insulation is made from – you guessed it – hemp fibres.
In this article we will discuss:
- hemp properties
- hemp insulation features
- NaturHemp properties
- batt measurements
- Where to buy it and price
We are always looking for high-quality, low-carbon, natural, petroleum-free building products to add to our list. There are more available than you might think, but at the same time, we like to promote Canadian, and North American products because they are manufactured closer to home, using local resources and employing the local population.
I attended The Buildings Show in December and found the Hemp Canada exhibit. The exhibit represented several Canadian manufacturers of hemp building products, one of which was hemp insulation.
Hemp is a plant that is commonly grown across Canada. It needs few if any, pesticides or fertilizers and very little water. Currently, the majority of Canadian hemp is used for food so it is grown and harvested as a grain. This trend is evolving as more uses for its fibres are being introduced. The strong outer fibres of the hemp stalk (called bast fibres) can be used to create fabric (like the flax stalk is used for linen), while the inner fibres (called hurd fibres) are used for building materials such as insulation. There is a process called retting which farmers use to help separate the inner and outer cores of the stalk, and in turn, these materials are shipped off to various manufacturers. All in all, the hemp plant is extremely useful, providing the basic elements to create food, clothing and building materials. For more information on farming hemp, this is an excellent paper developed by the Manitoba government.
Hemp Insulation features
Hemp insulation is a great product for several reasons:
- It has an R-value of 3.7/inch (in comparison, ordinary fibreglass batts have an R-value of around 3.2 per inch)
- It is pest resistant – both rodents and insects (specifically termites, moths and ants)
- It is mould and mildew resistant and is hygroscopic (water-loving)
- It is breathable, vapour retarders should be placed on the “warm” side of the insulation (in Canada, the interior side)
- It has a Class-A fire rating (ASTM E84)
- It has sound-dampening qualities
- It is non-toxic with no volatile organic compounds emitted into the air
- It is safe for handling and easy to install
- Code compliant for buildings of two stories or less, for 8 units or fewer in MURBS (multi-unit residential buildings), and for renovation purposes.
- It’s a carbon sequestering material. While hemp absorbs CO2 during its growth, there is a certain amount of CO2 emitted during its processing and transportation, but overall it is a low-carbon product.
NaturHemp is manufactured by a building materials company, Nature Fibres, in the former capital of another Canadian insulation product – Asbestos, Quebec. It’s interesting that the town known for one of the most highly toxic (to the workers) insulation materials is having a rebirth of sorts in the same industry. (By the way, Asbestos, QC, has announced it’s changing its name. I can’t say that I blame them.). Nature Fibres manufactures bio-based building materials all made from hemp.
The hemp insulation batts contain 92% and 8% polyester – the polyester is used to keep the batts together. Because of the polyester, the batts are recyclable at end of life and 92% could be biodegradable if you can separate the polyester from the hemp, but I’m not sure how easy that would be.
However, the fellows over at NaturHemp advised me that if a building – or part of a building were to be taken down, the insulation can be reused. It keeps its shape and is resilient, maintaining its R-value over time – something fibreglass batts don’t do.
Installation is similar to that of any batt material and, as with any insulation material, the most important part of any successful installation is to follow the directions carefully. In the case of NaturHemp, batts work best with compression to ensure a tight fit. Visit the website to read the NaturHemp datasheet. The best tools for cutting the insulation are an angled grinder, long serrated saw or circular saw.
To get the most out of hemp’s breathability, they recommend using Pro Clima DB+ vapour retarder. (This is the same vapour retarder recommended for sheep’s wool insulation and other breathable insulations).
Hemp Insulation Batt measurements
All batts are 48” in length.
|2”||7.4||16” or 24”||48”|
|3.5”||12.95||16” or 24”||48”|
|5.5”||20.35||16” or 24”||48”|
|7.5”||27.75||16” or 24”||48”|
Cost and Distributors
Please see the NatureFibres website (makes of NaturHemp hemp insulation) for a list of distributors, or contact them directly to see if there is a distributor near you. They are currently distributing in Ontario, Alberta and some US states and are constantly updating their list of distributors.
Regarding the cost, it is about 15% more than Rockwool but contact Nature Fibres directly for up to date pricing.
Visit the Nature Fibres website for more information on NaturHemp or its other bio-based building materials.
Looking for more articles on insulation? Check out our insulation page for all our articles.