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Old 09-28-2013, 08:11 PM   #1
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Has anyone experimented with perlite or rice husks for "RV basement" insulation?

Perlite seems like the ideal insulation (whether bagged or not) as a just-above-vapor-barrier layer within a permanent RV skirting "basement" ---but rice husks are so much cheaper here in Texas and are almost as desirable in terms of flame and fungal resistance. Has anyone used either insulation material in various RV applications?

I've also considered both for light-weight windbreaks/shade-walls using methods already being applied in "bagged earth-houses" and similar structures. Both materials are "breathable", which also seems ideal for the infamous 100 miles-wide climate borderline in Texas between the heating zones and the cooling zones.

Considering that rice husks are virtually given away (and trucking is the main cost) and can be left behind as an advantageous soil accoutrement, it is hard to think of a downside (although, if allowed, virtually any "pour-able" material can become attracted bedding material for vermin.) But so far I'm finding it very difficult to buy perlite in bulk in Texas at any sort of reasonable price. So I may have to go with rice hulls. But so far about the only people actually using it in these ways are the earth-home, survivalist groups and I've yet to connect with any in my area.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:50 AM   #2
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I'd be concerned that the rice husks would attract rodents and/or other vermin.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:55 AM   #3
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I'd be concerned that the rice husks would attract rodents and/or other vermin.
That was my first thought.

I'm a bit confused about what you are going to do...Are you in an RV park?
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:06 PM   #4
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I'd be concerned that the rice husks would attract rodents and/or other vermin.
I've heard a few people say that but I highly suspect that they used insufficient borax concentrations. (And in my past experience in the Midwest, it takes very little borate to deter mice. But native Texans always warn me that things are bigger in Texas---or at least "different" in Texas. LOL!)

I've tended to use sodium carbonate as well near any organic materials but the copious silicates in rice hulls tend to be so fire retardant (and anti-fungal) on their own---but I like to err in the direction of overkill, just to be extra-careful.

I may well be wrong but the people who are most negative about rice husks as insulation have either had bad experiences with it as a soil additive (and had piles of non-composted, unprocessed rice husks sitting around with stray weed seed in it OR they had no experience with it at all.) But I could very well be wrong because, obviously, I don't necessarily know the experiences behind someone's comments in an online forum. (And years ago I recall a guy in my area who claimed all sorts of terrible problems using perlite for insulation and then I visited his building site and discovered that what he had was "styro-beads" instead! No wonder he was able to get local bulk pricing that I couldn't touch! :-)
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:23 PM   #5
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That was my first thought.

I'm a bit confused about what you are going to do...Are you in an RV park?
No. I have a rural site of my own. (See signature for more summary.) However, considering that such insulation would be unseen, I'd be surprised that it would matter----unless one were to be in a park which banned all RV skirting.

As for my application, I was thinking of using it much like it gets used in home foundation/crawl-space aps. (I've used it in several building projects of various types.) Of course, it will depend upon the kind of fifth-wheel I get and how it is constructed underneath---and therefore, what kind of skirting and "RV basement" I decide to create for the long term, both for warmed floors in winter and perhaps for storage.

If I'm able to get it conveniently bagged at the less than $2/ft^3 prices I got in the past, I would gladly go with perlite instead [it is very hard to beat perlite for virtually every kind of application] but despite the growth of hydroponics and "solar roof" apps and even perlite-infused golf green, I find it hard to get at good prices in Texas.

[Indeed, with most of Texas being so much closer to both the sources and the processing plants than the far cooler Pacific Northwest, I'm amazed that I was able to get perlite so much more cheaply and conveniently up there. That continues to baffle me. How do Texas golf-courses keep their golf-greens green without perlite? They surely must have to replace/rebuild the compacted greens every few months---as well as water them like crazy. Even the Japanese golf-courses use it profusely. And I never saw a potted tree in a Middle Eastern oil sheikdom shopping mall that wasn't planted in light-weight perlite media that a tiny forklift could easily move around as necessary. With the climate here, I"m amazed that Texas doesn't have bulk perlite suppliers in every town. If anybody knows of a good perlite source in east Texas, I'd be most grateful. I've tried some of the big plants around Houston but so far those have tended toward the highly-processed filter media clients.]
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Old 09-29-2013, 08:41 PM   #6
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Seems to me like the best insulation would be "insulation".
Corning has been making it for years......
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Old 09-29-2013, 10:05 PM   #7
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>Seems to me like the best insulation would be "insulation".
>Corning has been making it for years......

I assume you understand that every insulation type has pros and cons, right?

Fiberglass insulation is certainly cheap but it has its down-sides, especially in floors, crawl-spaces, and basements. (There are many reasons why your local building supply companies have multiple insulation products besides fiberglass.)
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