Can I Use Cardboard or Newspaper for Wall Insulation?

I am wondering if we can use cardboard or scrunched up newspaper in my walls for insulation? It's free and there is plenty of it around.

By Angie from Eufaula, AL

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Yes you can. Newspaper would be best. We did this with my husband's workshop which is an old trailer stripped inside. He used borax and what I would call newspaper dust. It was free and came in these huge bags. He mixed the borax with it and blew it in with the back end of a vacuum cleaner.

Not sure your situation, but it might be worth a try. I would NEVER use this if I used wood burning stoves during the winter.

Best wishes,


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No. Newspapers are like sponges for moisture. They will cause mold and mildew if exposed to moisture. Also are a fire hazard and vermin such as mice live the stuff to build nests in. Blown in insulation is ground up paper products that have been chemically treated to be fire and vermin resistant. Find something else such as fiberglass insulation from a big box store that will be a lot safer.

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I am a firefighter's wife and I was horrified to find out you want to use paper products of any kind to insulate INSIDE your walls. That is a fire waiting to happen! Unless you plan to treat it with a fire retardant solution I would say a resounding NO! And to treat it would be more expensive than getting good insulation in the first place. It sounds like maphisx7's dh bought his paper product somewhere and perhaps it was treated to retard fire, I'm not sure. But I'm sure I wouldn't chance it in my walls.

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While I am not sure I'd use it because of moisture problems, borax is a fire retardant and firefighter's wife should know that. During the depression, newspaper was often pasted onto walls for insulation. Times have changed and there are now better types of insulation to use, but that wasn't your question.

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Simple Answer: OMG, no no no.

This used to be used in houses built about 100 year ago. As homes have been redone, it is horrifying to discover the newspapers, cardboard, blankets, etc. First, you would never get insurance coverage for any of your property by doing this. Any spark, faulty wiring, would create an instant fireball, as if you had tossed gas to it.

Newspapers are combustible. Why do you think science experiments in schools show kids to use newspapers/magnifying glasses and the sun to create your fire outside? Newspapers are starter fuel. Why do you think many fake fireplace logs are made with paper? If you had a fire start anywhere, you would never have a chance to get out alive. Besides killing yourself, how many more innocent people/children will be killed?

If you want to be cheap and dangerous at doing this, what kind of heat do you use during the winters? I would not even want to have a candle lit, much less a gas stove/wood stove for the fear of the fire danger. Your part of the country has very high humidity. This makes for good combustion and explosion.

Our fully open, 2-car garage with large doors suffered a fire from combustion spark (here in MN). My son took out the riding mower to do the yard, it started to rain, so he put it back in. All doors still open. He knelt down in the middle to pour 1 gal of gas into the oil blend, so it would be ready to go when it stopped raining. The heaviness of the air, the recently put in mower, the gas fumes from the other side of the garage from blending oil/gas (small amount remember) created a combustion fire. An explosion. My son burned his hand--which burns like a sunburn rather than flesh burn.

Our safety measures are to always have extinguishers every so many yards apart in the garage, house. Also, when my kids did things, the garden hose was laid out and connected/turned on to use. My kids weld--plastic/wire/rod, solder, rebuild engines/trannies, etc. And the safety measures are always in place.

The fire department verified the combustion fire. It burned the things on the ceiling of the garage (husband's fishing poles), but the quick action of the kids with extinguishers, garden hose and phone to call 911 saved it all but the poles.

The first thing my kids learned in shop in school was about combustion--whether the rags from wiping in mechanic shop to woodworking hand towels. ALL GO IN METAL trash cans.

So please, do NOT use newspapers or anything like this. It is not worth your life nor anyone else's.

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Home and Garden Home Improvement InsulationOctober 2, 2010
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