Spray foam insulation is a form of spray plastic that can be used as insulation and an air-sealing barrier on roofs, corners, walls and contoured surfaces. It’s made by mixing different liquid components that react and quickly form the resulting foam.
Types of Spray Foam Insulation
There are two main types; open cell and closed cell (this can also be broken down and classified as low, medium and high-density foam insulation). The less expensive open cell insulation uses fewer chemicals and can be a very effective air barrier, but does not act as a water vapor barrier. Typically it is used for indoor insulation, and can also be a great sound barrier.
Closed cell foam insulation has a more dense and compact structure, and can also be used a water vapor barrier. Due to its structure, it can be used both indoors and outdoors (including roofs).
There are many benefits to using this type of insulation in your home or commercial building, but here are a few:
- First and foremost, in can lower your utility bills. This is because it stops air and moisture infiltration. Studies have shown that without proper insulation, a home can lose up to 40 percent of its total energy due to air infiltration.
- It adds additional strength to the structure of the building.
- It can help keep dust and pollen out
- It’s permanent and requires no additional maintenance
How Does It Work?
Actually, applying this type of insulation is quicker and easier than you may think. As the liquid is sprayed, it quickly transforms into hard, thick foam. It can be used anywhere, however, because of its flammability, it requires an ignition source if installed near a flame source (such as a water tank or furnace).
Should You DIY Spray Foam Insulation?
There are plenty of DIY foam insulation kits you can purchase, and even more online tutorials that show you how to do the job. However, if you don’t have experience working on these types of projects, it’s best to go the “better safe than sorry” route, and it is really a job best left to the professionals. It’s important for individuals who want to have this type of insulation installed in their homes to contact a professional, as additional gear is required to handle the materials.
Spray Foam Insulation vs. Fiberglass & Cellulose
While it may at first seem tempting to go with a more traditional fiberglass, there are many cons to this option. It’s important to understand all aspects of your options so that you can make an educated decision.
- Fiberglass still allows air to pass through, defeating the purpose of its installation in the first place
- Because they are made of a combination of old materials, they may not meet changing building codes in your area.
- While spray foam insulation stays in place and is permanent, fiberglass and cellulose can sag over time, diminishing its overall performance.
- Traditional insulation can still soak up water, which can lead to mold growth and costly repairs-or worse, the loss of your home.
- Fiberglass and cellulose can tend to be on the dusty side, paving the way for pollutants to potentially enter the home and trigger allergies.
- Unlike spray foam insulation, fiberglass can be intruded by pests, and even used as a nesting ground.