The Skinny on Spray Foam

spray foam

What is spray foam? Spray foam, is commonly composed of either isocyanurate (open-cell) or polyurethane (closed-cell), and is made by combining two ingredients onsite using specialized equipment. Both open-cell and closed-cell foam are applied as a liquid that contains a polymer and a foaming agent. Once the liquids and foaming agent are combined, the mixture is then sprayed through a heated hose into the areas in need of insulation. One of the nice features about this product is the fact that it expands to fill hard to reach areas, and then rapidly hardens.

Why choose spray foam? It has the potential to stop air leakages better than many of the other insulation products currently available. Because it is sprayed into place, where it then expands, it can fill up cavities and block any small holes that may otherwise compromise your building’s envelope. It is available as open-cell and closed-cell foam (discussed below). When professionally installed, vertically or horizontally, it can contribute to energy-efficiency, noise reduction, moisture intrusion reduction, and more!

  • Open-cell has a density of about 0.5 lb. per cubic foot, and an R-value of 3.5 to 4.0 per inch. Open-cell provides an effective air seal which reduces energy loss and improves indoor air quality when used correctly. Most homes require double the amount of open-cell foam.
  • Closed-cell has a density of about 20 lb. per cubic foot, and an R-value of 6.0 to 6.5 per inch. Closed-cell is typically more expensive than open-cell do to its ability to add structural strength to a wall, ceiling, or roof assembly. It also reduces energy loss and improves indoor air quality.

Are there any green alternatives to traditional spray foam insulation? Yes! Soybean-based spray foam, is made without any added chemicals, yet has the same insulation properties as traditional foam insulation. A portion of the petroleum base that makes up the product is replaced by soy. This product uses water as its main blowing agent. Soybean does not emit greenhouse gasses; long or short term. While more expensive than traditional foam, soybean is the appropriate choice for those wanting an environmentally-friendly option. Other benefits of soybean include:

  • Blocks drafts.
  • Stays firmly in place.
  • Excellent thermal properties.
  • Effectively reduces outside noise.
  • Does not attract insects or rodents.
  • Does not emit greenhouse gasses.
  • Meets government requirements for renewable resources.
  • Lowers the costs associated with heating and cooling your home.