Ultimate Guide to Spray Foam Insulation

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The importance of quality insulation cannot be overlooked. We all want a home that stays warm over winter and cooler in the summer, saving energy costs and reducing our carbon footprint. Typically, the answer to this call is insulation.  

And one such insulation solution is spray foam. It’s a home repair option that offers strength and durability. If you want your home to last for years, stay protected from flood damage, and make your walls more rigid, spray foam insulation might be the solution you are looking for. Read on for the ultimate guide to spray foam insulation to see if it’s right for you! 

What’s Spray Foam Insulation?

Spray foam insulation, also known as spray polyurethane foam, is liquid insulation. Our professionals use spray foam to insulate your loft, floors, roof, or walls. Spray foam is a composite product of isocyanate and polyol resin. The two chemicals are stored in separate tanks and pressured by gas or liquid to the tip of the spray gun, where the two chemicals meet and create a foam solution. 

The foam dries in place to create an air and vapor barrier. The little pockets of the foam block sound and heat energy or cold from passing through the foam. The foam also occupies even the tiny nooks and crannies when sprayed, making spray foam an effective insulator. 

How Does it Work?

Spray foam works by sealing cavities on walls, floors, and lofts by preventing air leakages. It creates an effective air barrier that helps contain all the heat in the building during the winter and blocks the summer heat. 

The polymer in the sprayer makes the compound expand 50 times in volume, which means it takes less time to spray. The product is not combustible, and it’s also environmentally friendly. Therefore, it does not impact indoor air quality and cannot damage the building walls or roof. 

Spray Foam Insulation Types

Spray foam insulation comes in two essential types. Both types involve the same combination of chemicals to execute and only differ in how they insulate. Here are the different types of spray foam insulation. 

Open Cell Spray Foam Insulation

Open cell is applied on surfaces that require breathing. Lofts, wooden roofs, and attics are the best examples of surfaces. This type is less dense and stays soft after drying up. It provides better insulation for homes built with wooden timbers. The open cell consists of small pockets that are not enclosed completely. 

Open cell spray foam is propelled by water or carbon dioxide, making it environmentally friendly. However, due to the cell pockets not being fully enclosed, the foam is subjectable to absorbing moisture and vapor and requires a vapor barrier on the inside of the foam. 

Open cell has its advantages over the closed cell variety. Airflow is reduced in an open cell, and therefore, it is best for soundproofing. Unlike closed cell foam, it’s not susceptible to condensation. However open cell produces a spongy texture which has a lower R-value, meaning it provides a lower heat insulation rating. 

Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation

Closed cell spray foam features high-density cells filled with a gas that makes the foam expand within the open spaces surrounding it. It’s similar to open cell in that it forms an air barrier. Closed cell is used on surfaces that need no breathing, such as metal surfaces. When rigid, it strengthens the material underneath.

The cells are more densely packed, which makes the foam insulation more rigid. The enclosed pockets prevent moisture and vapor. It’s also easier to apply additional closed cell coats because they expand much less than open cell foam. Closed cell spray foam is propelled by hydrofluorocarbons. HFs are environmentally-friendly, although not as much as the open cell spray foam propellants. 

The major advantage of a closed cell spray foam is that it’s a vapor barrier and blocks air. Thus, it’s more impermeable to water and less likely to be impacted by water damage, mold, rot, or mildew. It also prevents heat from escaping and has a higher R-value

Benefits of Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation has become the leading insulation choice because of its numerous benefits. House prices are shooting up, and families have been forced to go for smaller, affordable properties. Every inch of space is essential. Spray foam insulation saves space and also has many other benefits, including:

Increases Structural Strength

Spray foam insulation is molded to the shape of the space undergoing insulation. It takes up spaces on the walls, roof, and floor. The foam then provides structural support, which makes the building stronger, especially if placed between the wall and framing. 

A home with spray foam insulation has a higher structural strength than a home with none. The strength increases by 250%, which means it becomes twice and a half firmer. It also lasts more than 75 years. 

Increases Durability

Spray foam insulation boosts the durability of your roof. It protects your home from common roof damage caused by harsh winds. The winds can loosen the fasteners and leave your roof subject to leaks and water damage. 

The durable protective layer of the spray foam provides insulation and keeps your roof safe. While you’ll incur costs installing spray foam, it will save you from emergency roof repair costs

It’s Effective Against Harsh Weather Elements

One of the alternatives to spray foam insulation is fiberglass insulation which has an R-value of 2.2 per inch. Spray foam has a 6.7 per inch for closed cell and 3.5 per inch for open cell. As you may have noticed, spray foam has a higher R-value, making it more resistant to extreme heat and cold. Fiberglass loses its properties when the weather is too hot. 

The foam is effective and robust enough to protect the smallest cracks in the exterior, thus providing a shield against the elements. It also forms an air-tight and waterproof seal that keeps the moisture and air away. With these values, you can be sure your home will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer. 

Saves Money

Spray foam insulation will help save money in the long run in different ways. The maximum benefit, as far as cost saving is concerned, is the superior insulating capabilities which will significantly reduce your energy costs. 

The spray foam insulation will also increase the lifecycle of your roof, walls, and floor and extend the lifetime of your home. This would save you from spending money on expensive maintenance and repairs that you would have done sooner if it were not for the insulation. 

Boosts Noise Reduction

Spray foam insulation boats impressive soundproofing properties, capable of reducing sound transmission by almost 90%. It can reduce noise levels inside your home and outside. 

This implies that loud music in your home will not interfere with your neighbors’ lifestyle, and the traffic and annoying noise outside your house will interfere with your comfort. The insulation option is a practical and valuable choice for renovations and construction. 

It’s Mold Resistant

Unlike other insulation options such as fiberglass, spray foam insulation is highly resistant to molds. It’s less permeable to water and moisture – the primary facilitator of mildew, fungus, and mold growth.

Mold is less likely to grow on spray foam, and even if it does, cleaning spray foam is easier, and removing debris can be done. 

Has Immense Environmental Benefits

Spray foam roofing is an incredible option for homeowners looking to cut down their carbon footprints. Thanks to its high R-value, it’s the best insulation material on the market.

Spray foam will minimize heat flow into your home in the summer and out of your home in the winter so that your cooling and heating system doesn’t overwork. This helps reduce the amount of energy consumed in your home, as well as costs.

Improves Drainage on Your Roof

Spray foam insulation has been known to improve roof drainage if applied by a professional. It can be installed in varying thicknesses and seal off any spaces that might be left on the roof. 

A skilled contractor can apply it carefully to prevent water from flowing into your home by leaking, make water flow down, and prevent leaks on your roof. 

Disadvantages

Messy: The application of spray foam can be messy. So it’s not a safe DIY project! The material is sticky when wet. First-timers may have a hard time applying it, and that’s why it’s important to hire an experienced contractor. Wear protective equipment if you come across spray foam. 

Expensive: Spray foam application, especially the closed cell one, is expensive. It’s the most expensive insulation method but has long-term money-saving benefits. 

Long dry time: It’s advisable to leave your home for a few days until the foam cures. While it’s wet, the foam is unpleasant. 

The Installation Process

Installing spray foam roofing is potentially dangerous, especially if done unprofessionally. It requires special equipment, ample training, and experience. You need to hire a skilled spray foam insulation contractor to do a great job!

The first step is cleaning the wall, loft, floor, or roof before application by sweeping or vacuuming. A professional will use air pressure to clear dust and dirt from the surface. Once the walls, roof, loft, or floor are ready, the foam is produced on the site. 

After the spray foam is made, the contractor applies the first layer, which reacts and expands to fill gaps and cracks. The contractor adds more layers, and the installation will be complete. 

Spray foam can be installed on spaces around electrical outlets, light fixtures, doors and windows perimeters, attics, crawl spaces, or rim joists. The material can be used in existing buildings or commercial buildings. 

If installed properly, spray foam insulation will serve the building for as long as it lasts. Spray foam is better than other types of conventional insulation materials such as fiberglass and cellulose because it does not sag, compress, or settle. 

Expert using spray for foam insulation.

Is Spray Foam Insulation Safe?

Spray foam insulation is safe and human-friendly in your home. Polyurethane, the main compound in spray foam, has been used for many years for several applications, including furniture and bedding. 

To be sure, consult a professional to help determine whether it is suitable for your home. The professional will help you understand other best options, in case you decide spray foam insulation is your most preferred choice. 

Other Insulation Options

 

Cellulose

Cellulose is made from recycled paper, making it eco-friendly like spray foam. However, it must be densely packed to provide proper insulation. Loose-fill cellulose is sprayed damp or blown into wall cavities while dry. 

Although it’s considered the safest insulation type for homes, cellulose has its disadvantages. One of them is that it can reduce its mass by 25 percent if the contractor fails to install it properly. The thickness can reduce in a matter of months. 

Fiberglass

Some call it glass wool, and it’s more cost-effective and versatile. Fiberglass comprises over 70 percent natural glass and less than 30 percent recycled materials. It has a lower R-value than spray foam and lower compressive strength. 

Fiberglass is more affordable and available in the blanket form or loose-fill options. However, producing fiberglass takes a lot of energy, and it’s not worth being described as a green solution, even though it uses recycled materials. 

Mineral Wool

Mineral wool is also called rock wool or stone wool, and it’s a man-made insulation material. It consists of a volcanic rock known as basalt and diabase. The eco-friendly mineral wool is available in blanket form, loose-fill, and batts and rolls insulation. 

The mineral wool blanket form insulates floors, walls, and ceilings. The loose fill is used to fill cavities on the wall. 

The Cost of Applying Spray Foam Insulation

Several factors determine the cost of application. The factors include:

  • Thickness
  • Size of the surface
  • The conditions of the walls, floor, or roof. 

Spray foam insulation may be twice as expensive as installing fiberglass insulation. However, if you consider the labor, maintenance costs, and durability, spray foam insulation is cheaper in the long run. 

Conclusion

Spray foam insulation is a quick insulation option that saves energy for years even though it takes time to dry up. You’ll be able to save on energy and maintenance for over 50 years. If you live in Atlanta and are interested in installing spray foam insulation in your building, you can trust the professionals at Ideal Insulation to do a great job. Call us right away!

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