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What are the Benefits of Cork Insulation?

As the impact of global warming becomes continually more dramatic, the call for greener living has never sounded more fervently. With that in mind sustainable building and renovating practices are perhaps among the most important of all green lifestyle changes in our society today.

It has been reported that in the United States alone that there are 251 million tons of consumer waste generated annually, and that as much as 40% of that can be attributed to construction projects. This means that the onus is on the building industry to always look out for better, more sustainable products and methodologies.

An Intro to Cork Insulation

The introduction of semi-rigid cork insulation has been among the most exciting, green building products to enter the marketplace in recent years. Cork is a highly sustainable material that can be continually harvested every 9 years. It requires no binders or adhesives to be formed into boards, is naturally flame retardant, and completely biodegradable.

In terms of insulation performance, cork has an R-value of 3.6 per inch, this is comparable to open-cell spray foam, which typically has an R-value of 3.5 to 3.6 per inch, and on par or slightly lower than fiberglass batts, which come in at R-3.1 to R-4.3.

The primary downside that some people may see to opting for cork insulation tends to be cost. According to there is a considerable cost difference between opting for cork over more traditionally used insulating materials.

“[…]the price to a distributor will be about $0.70 per board-foot, not including shipping, mark-ups, or the exchange rate. If those mark-ups come to 50%, the cost per board foot would be $1.05 and the cost to achieve R-19 would come to about $5.50 per square foot for cork, vs. $1.10 – $1.60 for polyisocyanurate insulation and $2.00 – $2.25 for extruded polystyrene.” (

The question remains, should cost really be considered a factor when it comes to preserving the health of the environment for future generations?

For more information and inspiration about home improvement, be sure to browse our extensive library of articles on home renovation, interior décor, and home maintenance.


Image courtesy of Jelinek

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