Market Intelligence

Green & Sustainable Construction

Fiberglass-Free Insulation

Introduced to select markets in 2007, and recently expanded to markets across the country is Dow Chemical’s SAFETOUCH TM insulation. Made from polyester fibers, this product does not have some of the disadvantages associated with fiberglass insulation.

According to the Dow SAFTETOUCH TM web site ( this insulation is manufactured from polyethylene terephthalate fibers, the same type of fibers used in clothing and bedding. It is soft to the touch and does not irritate skin, throat, eyes or lungs. It meets building code requirements for Flame Spread Index and Smoke Developed Index as per ASTM E84 or UL723.

The product is sold through home centers in packages sized at 69 square feet (R-13), 49 square feet (R-19) and 48 square feet (R-30) per bag. The R-13 is 3.5" thick, 15" wide and 94" long; the R-19 is 6.25" thick, 15" wide and 94" long; the R-30 is 9.5" thick, 24" wide and 48" long.

Installation is accomplished with the use of tools typically used to install other types of insulation. A Measuring tape, stapler, utility knife and/or scissors and a place to cut the product for non-standard spaces are all handy. While stapling can be used as a method to hold the product in place, it is not necessary as it is manufactured to fit in standard spaces and be held by friction. Some special steps may be required for installing in metal framing.

There is a clear plastic vapor retarder included on SAFETOUCH TM insulation. Local building codes will have information on which direction this should face. As with any insulation, any holes or damage to the vapor retarder should be repaired.

The advantages will be somewhat offset by the cost. The R-13 size for 2 x 4 wall framing was found to be about $.80 per square foot. The R-19 size was found to be about $1.26 per square foot. While this is higher than the cost of fiberglass, do it yourselfers may recover some of the price difference by not using a professional installer.

Visit your local home center and look for Dow SAFETOUCH TM insulation. Small samples may be available.


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