With Spring just around the corner, making sure your home has the right kind of insulation is vital. Not only can your home’s insulation save you money on your monthly energy bills, but it can also reduce your carbon footprint. However, there are numerous types of insulation to choose from, so how do you know which is best? In this article, we will be discussing everything you need to know about spray foam insulation.
What is Foam Insulation?
Foam insulation, also known as spray foam insulation, it is a relatively new method of insulating your home. It is especially handy for issues like air leaks around windows, doors and foundations. Almost all spray foam insulation is made from polyurethane foam, which is the same material that goes into soft products like couches and memory foam mattresses.
When applied properly, spray foam insulation can provide excellent thermal insulation for your home considering its high R-value (the measurement of how well insulation works). You can spray polyurethane foam into ceilings and walls and when it expands, it forms an airtight seal. In some cases, this seal can also be moisture tight. You can use it to insulate a new home or to add to the insulation of an existing one, especially since it makes it very easy to deal with small crevices and cracks along the perimeter of your home. Spray foam insulation basically seals your home like an envelope, making it impenetrable to the outside elements.
Where to use Spray Foam Insulation?
Spray foam insulation can be used in many places in your home, including walls, the roof, the attic and other foundations. However, the type of spray foam insulation you use will depend on the area you are insulating, more on that further down.
How Long Does Spray Foam Insulation Last?
With proper application, spray foam will last the lifetime of your home. Typically issues only arise when open-cell polyurethane foam is installed in areas where moisture or vapor damage can occur. That is why opting for the slightly more expensive closed-cell foam insulation is ideal, as it is much more durable.
Types of Foam Insulation
Irrespective of how it is applied, spray foams are divided into two major categories:
Closed cell: Closed cell is a denser and more expensive type of foam insulation, with a 6 to 7 per inch R-value and is moisture tight.
Open cell: Open cell insulation is less dense, with a 4 per inch R-value.
Foam insulation comes in a few forms:
- Aerosol cans with one-part formulas. This type of insulation is ideal for DIY jobs like insulating your doorways.
- Low pressure sprayers with two-part formulas. This insulation is ideal for smaller jobs.
- Two-part kits that need to be applied with high-pressure sprayers: Ideal for bigger jobs.
Which Spray Foam Insulation is Best?
Both closed and open cell insulation is effective, however most home improvement contractors opt for closed-cell foam insulation due to its higher R-value and moisture barrier properties. Of course, the extra insulating value and added moisture barrier comes in at a higher cost, however, what you pay upfront for closed cell insulation can often be recouped through lower energy bills over time.
The Benefits Of Foam Insulation
Here are all the major benefits of foam insulation:
- Energy efficient. Foam expands naturally after applying it, so it seals off the crevices fiberglass cannot reach, making it an extremely energy efficient type of insulation.
- Durable. It can last a lifetime, as it does not break down as easily as your typical fiberglass insulation.
- Ideal for other types of damage. Foam insulation helps keep pests and mold at bay.
The Disadvantages of Foam Insulation
However, as with anything, foam insulation is not without its disadvantages, such as:
- Can be costly. For the energy efficiency and durability foam brings, it can be more expensive than other options and requires expensive equipment at times.
- Hard to apply. Unless you are using an aerosol can for a small job, this is a job best left to professionals.
- Messy installation. Even when applied by professionals, foam insulation is tricky to install, and it can be easy to miss your target. This means you can unintentionally spray parts you did not mean to and have it seep through holes before it fully cures.