Spray foam insulation is a method of insulating and air-sealing using a spray application. It is a rigid foam plastic that can be used for insulation in walls and attics, under roof decks, and on roofs and exterior walls. The foam sprays on as a liquid and then quickly expands to fill and seal the cavity or surface. As it expands, it seeps into all the nooks and crannies to form a continuous air barrier, keeping you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
What makes spray foam better than traditional types of insulation such as fiberglass?
Spray foam insulates and air-seals to control unwanted random air leakage – which traditional cellulose and fiberglass insulation can’t do. Traditional insulations can also leave gaps and seams around electrical boxes or light fixtures (compromising performance), but spray foam insulation fits perfectly around all detailing for a complete air-seal.
For builders, spray foam insulation can reduce construction time by simplifying the insulation process and minimizing the number of callbacks due to building envelope failure as a result of airborne moisture entrapment and buildup within the cavities. With spray foam insulation, heating and cooling costs are typically reduced by up to 50% and smaller, less expensive heating and cooling equipment can be used because of the reduced heating and cooling loads.
For homeowners, spray foam insulation offers the opportunity of lower heating and cooling costs from reduced air infiltration and a more comfortable home, draft-free without cold spots. Furthermore, spray foam’s continuous air barrier capability will significantly reduce unwanted airborne noise from the outside resulting in a quieter interior living space.
What is R-Value and why is it important?
Insulation levels are specified by R-Value. R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. R-Value is essentially a product’s resistance to heat flow which means that the higher the product’s R-Value, the better it is at insulating the home and improving energy efficiency. However, R-Value is only half the story because R-value doesn’t consider air movement through or around the insulation once it’s been installed in your home. And air movement can be your biggest source of energy loss. You need an insulation that does two things: insulates and creates an air-seal, which spray foam does.
What is the R-Value of spray foam insulation?
There are two types of spray foam – open cell and closed cell, both of which we install. The R-Value range for open cell foam is R 3.7 – 4.5 per inch, while the R-Value range for closed cell foam is R 6 – 7.5 per inch. Being air barrier insulation products, the performance of spray foam insulation products can’t be compared to traditional fiberglass and cellulose insulation of equivalent R-Values, as spray foam insulation products are far superior.
What are the differences between open and closed cell spray foam insulation?
The two terms refer to their cell structure. One is open like a half circle while the other is closed like a full circle. Open cell is semi rigid so that you could stick your finger through it; closed cell is rigid and you cannot. Both products are air barriers, but only closed cell foam is a vapor and moisture barrier, often used on interior masonry below grade. Open cell stays flexible and moves with a structure’s expansion and contraction. Closed cell foam, being more rigid, tends to strengthen a structure.
Will I be able to run electric wiring in my walls upon completion?
Yes, with open cell foam, but not with closed cell foam. However, as more and more devices are becoming wireless and new homes and additions have adequate wiring, we have never found this to be an issue for past customers who installed closed cell foam.
Is spray foam insulation fire retardent?
Both products are Class I building materials with flame spreads of less than or equal to 25. However, if attic areas are used for storage, an ignition barrier paint is required by code if left exposed.
Does spray foam insulation support the growth of mold and mildew?
Yes, spray foam insulation offers no food value. Therefore, it cannot support bacteria or fungal growth. The effective air-sealing characteristic prevents the movement of hot air to the cold parts of the walls, preventing condensation from taking place within the wall cavities. The elimination of condensation within the wall cavities prevents the growth of mold and mildew.
What about rodents and/or pests?
Spray foam acts as a physical and odor barrier that has shown to reduce the number of pests entering structures. It offers no food value, and while it by itself does not present a concrete entry barrier, pests normally do not attempt to go through an area where they cannot detect a food or heat source.
Can spray foam insulation improve indoor air quality and comfort?
Yes, spray foam seals tiny cracks and penetrations that would otherwise allow unwanted airborne irritants to invade the living space. Home occupants are protected from outdoor allergens, pollutants, and humidity. Spray foam makes it easy to get a tight fit around wall openings, such as windows, electrical/cable service entry points, and light fixtures.
Can spray foam insulation help control moisture build up?
Most of the damaging moisture within a building envelope is the result of air movement through the cavities. When warm air meets a cold surface within a cavity, it condenses; and if not found in time, it can lead to mold and rot. Spray foam creates continuously insulated, tight walls and ceilings – exactly the leak-free building envelope that is needed to minimize the potential for moisture, condensation and mold. Icynene spray foam insulation has been tested and proven not to be a food source for mold.
Can spray foam insulation help reduce noise?
Yes, just as spray foam seals against the transfer of air and accompanying moisture, it also helps reduce the transfer of noise.
Who is allowed in the general area during application?
Spray foam insulations shall be installed on site by certified installers who have been trained in the proper safety and handling of the product. Other persons should stay away from the immediate area while spraying is being conducted. As spray foam takes 24 hours to cure, we recommend you stay out of the installation area until this time has passed. It is absolutely safe for the homeowners, their children, and their pets to be in other areas of the house where work isn’t being done.
Can I make my new house too airtight?
The answer is you have to build tight and ventilate right. With the proper use of exhaust fans and heat/energy recovery ventilators, a building envelope can be made tight while clean, healthy air is circulated through the structure. Air leakage needs to be controlled in houses by making wall and attic assemblies as tight as possible. This not only prevents drafts but reduces the amount of airborne noise and dust from entering the building while ensuring that insulated cavities remain moisture-free.
How long will the spray foam insulation last?
Indefinitely. The foam will last the life of your building. Spray foam insulation adheres extremely well to virtually all substrates.
Is there a warranty for the insulation products?
Icynene-Lapolla warrantees its insulation for the life of the building, and this warranty is transferable from one owner to the next. Check all your insulation alternatives – you probably won’t find such a comprehensive warranty from any other manufacturer. To read more about Icynene’s warranty, please click here.
March & Martin serves Southern New Hampshire, inside the 495 Loop, and the South Shore.
Contact us with any questions regarding our services or service area.