Everything You Need To Know About Spray Insulation Foam

With winter approaching, one of the best ways to lessen your carbon footprint and save money on electricity costs is to improve your home’s insulation. Air leaks around doors, windows, and foundations significantly deplete your home’s thermal efficiency, with malfunctioning and non-tight construction envelopes accounting for up to 50% of heat loss. You can find a comprehensive guide to preventing home heat loss here.

Assume you’ve determined that some portions of your home require additional insulation. In that situation, spray insulation foam could be a viable alternative to consider. We’ve put up a comprehensive list of the benefits and drawbacks of this widespread insulation option. We also offer a few suggestions to assist homeowners in locating the highest-performing, ecologically friendly spray foam to improve their home’s energy consumption and thermal capacity.

What Exactly Is Spray Insulation Foam?

Spray foam insulation, often known as spray polyurethane foam (SPF), is steadily gaining popularity as a viable insulating option. While fibreglass and other “batt-type” insulation was once the most popular choice for home insulation, installation in some houses and hard-to-reach regions can be difficult. During World War II, the US military created spray foam insulation in the 1940s.

Polyurethane foam, used in soft furniture such as couches, armchairs, and mattresses, is used in almost all sprayed insulation foam. Because of its high R-value, spray foam insulation provides excellent thermal insulation for dwellings when correctly installed. Spray expanding foam insulation can be placed to difficult-to-reach spots, including attic corners or deep crawl spaces surrounding your foundation. As a result, by securing your home’s building envelope, this insulation option can also reduce air leakage.

What Are the Different Types Of Spray Insulation Foam?

Spray insulation is available in two types: open-cell and closed-cell.

  • Open-Cell Polyurethane Spray Foam

Spray foam insulation is available in two wide varieties for use in your home’s ceilings, walls, attic, and basement. The lighter choice is open-cell polyurethane foam insulation, often known as half-pound foam. The density of the open-cell foam is insufficient to serve moisture, water, or vapour barrier. As a result, it can’t be used in places where there’ll be a lot of moisture or humidity (i.e., restrooms, foundations, etc.). In dry locations such as walls and roofs, open-cell polyurethane foam insulation, on the other hand, can prevent airflow while still delivering high-R value insulation.

  • Closed-Cell Polyurethane Spray Foam

Closed-cell polyurethane foam, often known as two-pound foam, is denser and provides air and moisture protection. Because of its capacity to repel moisture or vapour, this kind of foam insulation is commonly utilised as a vapour barrier for foundations and other areas of your home.

What Are Spray Foam Insulation’s Disadvantages?

Though foam insulation reduces the amount of energy (and consequently carbon emissions) required to cool or heat your home, the blowing agents used in these products have a far larger global warming potential (GWP).

The high R-values of polyurethane foam are due to the material’s microscopic bubbles or air pockets. On the other hand, the foam requires the employment of a blowing agent during insulation to form these bubbles or air pockets.

What Is The GWP (Global Warming Potential)?

Hydrofluorocarbons are the most prevalent blowing agents in polyurethane spray foams (HFCs). HFCs are potent greenhouse gases.  They can contribute hundreds or even thousands of times more to climate change per unit of mass than carbon dioxide (CO2). They also point out that replacing high-GWP HFCs with low-GWP alternatives might prevent 0.1°C of warming by 2050.

Why Does GWP Important When Selecting Insulation Foam?

We normally believe that the insulation we are using in our houses can help us reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of energy we use to heat and cool our homes. The strong global warming potential of HFCs, on the other hand, may effectively cancel out any drop in emissions that comes with greater household energy efficiency.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), for example, has a GWP of 1. Over a hundred years, methane gas (CH4) has had a substantially higher GWP, ranging from 28 and 36. The hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) utilised as a blowing agent in your spray foam insulation, on the other hand, have a global warming potential of over 3,400. On a per kilo basis, this implies that the HFCs employed as blowing agents are 3,400 times more effective than carbon dioxide at accelerating climate change. For every kilogram of HFCs released into the atmosphere, 3.4 tons of CO2 are released.

Where Can You Use Spray Expanding Foam Insulation?

This can be utilised on the walls, attic, roof, and foundations of a home. However, in situations where moisture or vapour is a problem, you’ll need to utilise closed-cell polyurethane spray foam, as mentioned before. When it comes to insulating a foundation, closed-cell insulation is required.

How Long Does Insulation Foam Last?

Spray foam insulation is extremely long-lasting, with some reports claiming it can last up to 80 years. The primary dilemma develops when open-cell polyurethane foam is put in regions where moisture or vapour loss can happen.  To prevent this from happening, choose the pricier closed-cell foam insulation. It will last longer. It’s worth noting, though, that, like with other modern technologies, we don’t yet understand how they’ll function in the long run.