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GREEN DESIGN BUILD REMODEL

Energy Efficient Home Design and Remodeling in Southern Maine and New Hampshire
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High Performance Spray Foam Insulation
Up to R-7 per inch!
 
Spray Foam Insulation is the highest performance insulation on the market.  While it is much more expensive than other insulations, because it performs so well, and because it serves so many functions so well, it can be a very worthwhile investment in your home.  It is available in a number of formulations.  But there are basically two classes of spray foam, Closed cell, and Open cell.
 
  • Closed cell foam is the highest R-value, between R-6 and R-7 per inch.
  • Open cell foam is much lower R-value, between R-3 1/2 to R-4 per inch.

 

Then there are various formulations.  All spray foam is petroleum based, which hold some back from using it.  However, because the Closed Cell foam in particular performs so well, many feel that its performance far outweighs any negative characteristics it has.  There are some products that use a Bio Base for a portion of the formulation.  Depending on the specific manufacturer's formulation, this can be a very small amount to a little greater amount.  Bio Based Foam is generally an Open cell foam.

 

Open cell foam or Closed cell foam both act as excellent air barriers, which is one of the reasons why Spray foam insulation performs so well.  Up to 40% of the heating bill in a typical "Energy Efficient" home, is from uncontrolled air infiltration, or drafts.  So this is why spray foam performs so much better than other forms of insulation, as it completely blocks any drafts or air infiltration.

 

Spray Foam also strengthens the home, as it adheres to everything it is sprayed onto, tying the whole home together into one unified whole.  Still another advantage, particularly when using Closed Cell Foam, is that it can keep water out of the walls, roof, or wherever it is sprayed.  This works to keep water from entering from outside, but it will also keep water vapor from entering from inside.  This happens in heating climates because warm moist air carries a lot of moisture, and if, for example, it gets into your walls and condenses when it hits a cold surface, it can cause a lot of damage to your home.  Closed Cell Spray Foam will prevent this from happening.

 

Closed Cell Spray Foam has an advantage over Open cell foam for two basic reasons.

 

  1. It has a significantly higher R-value than Open cell foam.
  2. It can act as a true vapor barrier, unlike Open cell foam.

 

This means, for example, that it does not need ventilation above it when used as roof insulation.  So it can be sprayed directly between the roof rafters, without any need to provide for ventilation above the insulation, saving that extra step and the labor involved.

 

 

It is worthwhile to check the experience of the installers, as problems can arise if certain guidelines are overlooked. 

 

  • The temperature of the foam, the air, as well as the surfaces it is being sprayed onto needs to be at a proper level or the insulation will not perform the way it should.
  • Spray foam consists of an A portion, and a B portion, which must be sprayed at the proper ratio, or again, the insulation will not perform as it should.
  • Spray foam works because of an exothermic reaction.  That is, when curing, it produces heat.  Because of this, spray foam must be sprayed in "lifts" or layers, of no more than around 3 or 4 inches at a time, depending on the manufacturer's instructions.  If this direction is not followed, the foam could spontaneously combust, starting a fire.  But, because it cures so quickly, this will not mean any delays in spraying it into your home.
  • So, the manufacturer's guidelines must be closely adhered to, for these reasons as well as any other reasons given by the particular manufacturer of the foam.

 

But if all of the guidelines are closely followed, good spray foam insulation, properly installed, will outperform any other insulation!

 

 

Copyright 2012 Ronald Sauve All Rights Reserved

This page was last modified on April 06, 2012

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