Using Spray Foam for Residential Insulation

Many homes lose as much as 50% of hot or cold air through active drafts, increasing energy bills and carbon footprint. Developed in the 1940s by the military, polyurethane, the most common type of spray foam insulation, is now the most trusted home insulation practice. Over the last several decades, homes insulated with spray foam have been better equipped for harsh climate conditions with a shocking longevity. Benefits are seen in many areas—energy costs, structural integrity, soundproofing, reduced allergens, dexterity for hard to reach spots, air barrier, leak resistance—and the advantages are felt for decades after install.   

What catches most people’s’ attention is the savings. Although it costs more to install than traditional insulation, the long term savings far outweigh the initial spend. In most homes, the difference in price is made up within five years, while the savings continue to increase. Lower heating and cooling costs quickly add up, and since spray foam insulation doesn’t degrade, the savings and longevity continue indefinitely. While residential spray foam insulation will save you money, it will also increase the strength and durability of your home.

Spray foam insulation can be categorized into two different types: open cell and closed cell. Each is more suitable for certain situations and climates.

Closed Cell Foam Insulation

Closed cell foam insulation is much more dense than its counterpart, open cell, and is the more common of the two types. Measuring resistance to heat flow offers an “R-value,” and closed cell polyurethane foams have higher R-values. Closed cell foams are known for their effective ability to insulate, and are resistant to water, which includes moisture build up. This provides the benefit of reducing the chance of harmful mold and mildew—it is a very good air barrier and water vapor barrier. Eliminating mold growth reduces the likelihood of rotting wood in a home, and allergic reactions to mold spores. Mold can also compromise the structural integrity of a building, so preventing its growth and spread is essential.

This residential spray foam insulation prevents drafts and keeps temperatures regulated. This density reduces humidity, which can also spawn mold. Closed cell foams are dense and strong, and can strengthen building walls. In addition to indoor climate control and moisture prevention, residential spray foam insulation is often used to reduce noise. Foam insulation serves as a barrier to airborne sounds, and reduces airborne sound transfer through a building’s roof, floor and walls.

Open Cell Foam Insulation

Representative of its name, open cell residential spray foam insulation is a type of foam where the tiny cells are not completely closed. Less expensive because it uses fewer chemicals, and is often used for interior walls because it provides sound reduction by damping the movement. With lower R-values, open cell spray foam insulation is not as beneficial in places with extreme weather conditions (ahem, Canada).

Open cell foam sprays expand once applied, allowing them to be installed in nooks and crannies, wall and ceiling cavities that can be difficult to seal with closed cell foams. Sponge-like in appearance, open cell foam is still very dense, though not as dense as closed cell. While it provides good insulation, it is not water resistant.

Before choosing closed or open cell residential spray foam, establish the needs of the area for the application. Our trusted experts will guide you to choose the type most effective for your situation. In Canada, homes treated with spray foam insulation often qualify for provincial and federal tax deductions, lessening the financial obligations.

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