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What is ‘Homasote’?

Just as people in search of a facial tissue, often say they are looking for a “Kleenex”, within the home improvement industry there are a number of items whose name being referenced is the actual name of a leading company in the production of that particular product.

One such example of this is ‘Homasote’.

Most notably manufactured by the West Trenton, NJ-based ‘Homasote Company’ which prides itself (as referenced on their website) as the nation’s oldest (founded in 1909) and leading manufacturer of environmentally-friendly and recycled building products, Homasote is a brand name for a type of building material which has been widely used in construction and other applications for over a century.

Homasote is a fiberboard product made from recycled paper, which is compressed and bonded together with a non-toxic adhesive. The resulting material is dense, durable, and possesses excellent soundproofing and insulation properties.

Similar to Kleenex, when someone is talking about using Homasote in construction, it may or may not be an actual product of the Homasote Company, but in-line with someone asking for a Kleenex, the “Homasote” the person may be referring to is a similar product which may be a prominent piece of Homasote’s product line, but in fact made by an alternate manufacturer.

One of the key characteristics of Homasote is its environmentally friendly nature. It is composed of 98% recycled materials, primarily waste paper. The manufacturing process involves shredding the paper into fibers, mixing it with the adhesive, and then pressing it into large sheets. This sustainable approach to production has made Homasote a popular choice for those seeking eco-friendly building materials.

Homasote boards come in various thicknesses, typically ranging from 1/2 inch to 1 inch. They have a unique texture that resembles cardboard, with a rough, fibrous surface. The material is easy to work with and can be cut, drilled, and shaped using standard woodworking tools. It is also compatible with a wide range of finishes, including paint, wallpaper, and fabric coverings, allowing for customization to suit different design aesthetics.

One of the primary applications of Homasote is as an acoustic panel. Its dense composition and sound-absorbing properties make it ideal for reducing noise transmission within buildings. It is commonly used as a wall covering in recording studios, theaters, and other spaces where sound control is critical. The material’s ability to dampen vibrations and absorb sound waves helps to create quieter environments and improve overall acoustic performance.

Homasote also has insulation properties, making it an effective thermal barrier. It can help regulate temperature and reduce energy loss in buildings. The material’s insulating qualities are particularly beneficial when used as an underlayment for flooring or as sheathing in walls. It provides an additional layer of insulation that contributes to energy efficiency and comfort.

Furthermore, Homasote exhibits fire-resistant properties, adding to its appeal as a building material. The paper fibers are treated with fire-retardant chemicals during the manufacturing process, making the boards resistant to ignition and minimizing the spread of flames.

Homasote is sometimes used in exterior construction as a protective sheathing or backing board. It can be applied under siding materials such as stucco or brick veneer to provide additional insulation and moisture protection. The dense composition of Homasote helps to reduce thermal bridging and improve energy efficiency. However, it is important to note that for exterior use, Homasote must be adequately protected from direct exposure to moisture by using appropriate weather barriers and coatings.

One of the more popular exterior uses that I have come across for Homasote over the years has been as the material used to close things in on the underside of a soffit. If protected from consistent moisture exposure (which being on the underside of a soffit, it would most naturally tend to be) and covered by an appropriate coating system (think ‘paint’), Homasote can work quite well in this application.

Homasote is a versatile building material that is diverse in its uses and with its fire resistance and Green-oriented nature of how it is made, is certainly an attractive option for its variety of possible applications within the home improvement industry, particularly in today’s hyper environmentally conscious world.

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