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5 Things to Know About Spray Foam Insulation

When it comes to insulation, there are many options available on the market. But if you’re looking for an effective and long-lasting solution, spray foam insulation is the way to go. This type of insulation is growing in popularity due to its many benefits, which include its ability to seal tight spaces, its high R-value (which means it’s great at insulating), and its environmental friendliness. If you’re considering spray foam insulation for your home or office, here are five things you should know before making a decision.

What is Spray Foam Insulation?

Spray Foam Insulation
Spray Foam Insulation being installed in attic space

Spray foam insulation is a type of insulating material that is sprayed onto a surface to provide a barrier against heat loss or heat gain. It can be used on both walls and ceilings, and is often used in crawl spaces, basements, and attics as well.

It is made up of two main ingredients: polyurethane and isocyanate. When mixed together, these ingredients work to expand to fill in any voids or cracks in the surface being sprayed. This expansion helps to create an airtight seal that prevents heat from escaping or entering the space.

Spray foam is among the more effective types of insulation, especially when compared to cellulose and fiberglass, as it does not settle over time in the way fiberglass does. Furthermore, spray foam can help make your space more energy efficient, in turn reducing heating and cooling costs.

Additionally, it provides a higher R-value than other types of insulation. The higher R-value makes SPF better at resisting heat flow. This makes it an excellent choice for use in areas where extreme temperatures are common, such as attics and crawlspaces.

The Different Types of Spray Foam Insulation

There are two main types of spray foam insulation you need to know about: closed-cell and open-cell. Closed-cell spray foam is the most common type used in residential and commercial construction. It has a higher R-value per inch than open-cell spray foam, meaning it provides better insulation. It also forms a tight seal against air and moisture, making it ideal for use in areas where leaks or drafts could be a problem.

Open-cell spray foam has a lower R-value per inch than closed-cell spray foam, but it’s also much more permeable. This means that it allows water vapor to pass through more easily, which can be helpful in some situations (like if you’re trying to prevent condensation on cold surfaces). However, it also means that open-cell spray foam is less effective at blocking out unwanted noise and heat transfer.

Low GWP foam is available in both open-cell and closed-cell varieties. Low GWP foam has a reduced global warming potential.

How to Install Spray Foam Insulation

Here are some basics to know when it comes to installation:

1. Choose the Right Location

Consider both the climate and the type of building you’re working with. For example, if you live in a warm climate, you’ll want to avoid installing spray foam insulation in an attic or other enclosed space that could cause the material to overheat and degrade.

2. Prepare the Area

Before mixing and applying foam, it’s important to thoroughly clean and prepare the entire area where you’ll be using the spray foam. This includes removing any dust, debris, or dirt that could prevent the material from adhering properly. Once the area is clean, make sure it’s dry before proceeding.

3. Mix the Foam Insulation Material

Next, it’s time to mix together the components of your spray foam. This typically involves combining a liquid resin with a gas activator, which will start the chemical reaction that causes the material to expand and harden. Be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions when mixing your particular components.

4. Apply the Foam Insulation

Once the insulation material is mixed and ready to go, it’s time for application. This can be done with a traditional sprayer or a handheld spray foam gun. Be sure to work quickly and evenly, as the material will begin expanding almost immediately.

5. Let the Foam Insulation Cure

After the spray foam insulation is applied, it’s important to give it the appropriate amount of time it needs to properly cure before moving on. This typically involves a 24-hour wait for the material to completely harden. Once cured, you can then proceed with any additional steps needed to complete your project, such as cutting.

How Long Does Spray Foam Insulation Last?

When making any sort of adjustments to a home or office space, it is important of course to know how long those adjustment will last. Spray foam insulation is a tremendous insulation type, as it has a very long lifespan, typically lasting usually around 50 years.

How to Buy Spray Foam Insulation

There are a few things you want to keep in mind when shopping for spray foam insulation. First, you’ll need to decide what type of insulation you need. Second, you’ll need to determine how much insulation you need.

Type of insulation:

Closed-cell spray foam has a higher density and is heavier than open-cell spray foam. It is also the more expensive option. Open-cell spray foam on the other hand is less dense and lighter than closed-cell spray foam. It is also more affordable.

How much insulation is necessary?

The amount of insulation you need depends on a number of factors, such as the amount of square footage you want to insulate, the climate you live in and the R-value of the product you choose. Remember, R-value is a measure of thermal resistance.

Conclusion

Spray foam insulation is an excellent option for those looking to add insulation to either a residential or commercial space. It is important to know a few things about SPF insulation before you start, however, including the different types of spray foam insulation, how much it costs, and how long it lasts. With this information in hand, you can make an informed decision about whether or not spray foam insulation is right for your space.

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Maximum Safety Fireblock Low Expansion Foam

Insulating your home or building is a top priority whether you’re starting a new project or upgrading an existing structure. Fireblock foam is a low expansion foam that takes this just a step further. In addition to reducing energy loss and costs, it also works to limit the spread of flames, toxic smoke, and harmful gasses.

How Does Fireblock Foam Work?

The foam is designed to expand ever so slightly to properly fill in cracks and gaps in areas where it is required. The expansion alone makes it a much more effective tool for fire blocking than other standard materials. Additionally, the bright orange color provides clear visibility to inspectors as a Type V construction approved fireblock foam. Once bonded, it blocks air from entering the intended space, helping to fend off the free passage of smoke, flames, and other by-products of combustion between floors, rooms, and wall cavities.

fireblock foam

Fireblock foam is a low expansion foam that protects residential and commercial spaces from smoke, flames, and other by-products of combustion between floors, rooms, and wall cavities.

Properly Sealing with Low Expansion Foam

When working with polyurethane foam or other sealants, be sure to wear eye and skin protectants. This includes goggles or protective glasses with shields, nitrile gloves, and protective clothing. Once ready, make sure to apply the foam in a space that is well-ventilated and with certified respiratory protection or a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR). Each manufacturer of polyurethane sealants creates a detailed Safety Data Sheet (SDS) with specifics that should be carefully read before applying foam.

Fireblock foam is typically applied with a foam gun or straw. When applied, it is:

  • Tack-free in approximately five minutes
  • Cuttable in approximately one hour
  • Fully cured in 12-24 hours

To achieve the best results, make sure the foam being used is ICC compliant for fire blocking, and has been tested with modified ASTM-814 and UL-1715. Fireblock foam that meets these requirements withstand the pressure of flames more than twice as long as other competing foams, providing precious additional seconds to a dangerous situation.

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How Does High Expansion Foam Differ from Low Expansion Foam?

High Expansion Foam vs. Low Expansion Foam
High Expansion Foam vs. Low Expansion Foam

This blog has been updated from previous version published in 2014.

You may be considering using spray foam insulation in your home or commercial space but are unsure what type to use. High Expansion and Low Expansion Foam are the two primary types that are used. Here are the main differences between them.

Uses

Low expansion foam only expands about 10% larger than the output size, so it is used for smaller jobs like:

  • cracks and gaps around windows and doors too big for traditional caulk
  • plumbing, HVAC, and electrical penetrations
  • seams and small openings in framing

Because it expands as much as 5 times the output size, high expansion foam is primarily used for filling big voids, such as:

  • rim joists, roof/wall joints, or big gaps in framing
  • blind corners
  • wall/ceiling intersections
  • around boxes over can lights
  • Rim joists
  • Attics, basements, crawl spaces
  • Foundation walls
  • Stud cavities

Curing Method

High Expansion foam has two components stored in separate tanks until mixed at the time of spraying. After spraying, it typically cures in less than 2 minutes.

Low expansion foam comes in a single tank or container, and relies on moisture in the air to cure, usually in about 20 minutes. In extremely dry conditions, you may need to use a spritzer to properly cure this type of foam.

Dispensing Method

Since high expansion foam is used for larger jobs and requires separate tanks for the two components, the dispensing systems are typically larger and have two tanks, each with a line connected to the spray gun.

Low expansion foam is typically in smaller containers that can either attach directly to the spray gun or have a single line connecting to a separate, single tank.

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low gwp spray foam

Understanding Low GWP Spray Foam

Spray foam insulation has been used to insulate both commercial and residential spaces for decades. This form of insulation traditionally contains blowing agents called hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), which allow the polyurethane to change from a solid into foam, providing the insulation with both its form and R-value. However, this heat trapping chemical also contributes to the depletion of the earth’s protective ozone layer. When insulating, low gwp spray foam provides the same quality of protection, without the added harmful emissions.

Measuring Global Warming Potential (GWP)

Across much of North America, regulators have introduced requirements to gradually eliminate HFCs, and limit their use, thus reducing their contribution to climate change. The measurement basis for these regulations is called Global Warming Potential (GWP). With carbon dioxide as the reference gas (assigned the number 1), researchers compare the impact different gasses have on the atmosphere. The higher the GWP number, the greater the possibility of a gas warming the earth in comparison to carbon dioxide.

Low GWP Spray Foam

While the HFCs in traditional spray foam lend to exceptional form and R-values, even a miniscule amount being released into the atmosphere can have significant consequences on the ozone layer, and rising sea levels to name a few. Low gwp spray foam provides the same excellent insulation without harmful HFCs. Not only does this foam meet changing government requirement, these foam systems also:

  • Deliver a consistent stream of polyurethane foam
  • Contain an R-Value of 6.6
  • Cure in approximately 1 hour
  • Great for sealing attic, crawl space, floors, ceiling, walls, and basement

Reducing the global warming potential of the substances we use in building projects will help reduce the impact we are having on our atmosphere. Contractors, home, and building owners can now feel confident when using low gwp foam to seal and insulate spaces.

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Prevent Air Leaks and Insects in Your Home with Pur Fill Foam

Low Expansion Foam
Low Expansion Foam

For the times when you only need to insulate small areas, like gaps and cracks that bugs and other critters can crawl through, consider using Pur Fill Foam. Pur (short for polyurethane) foam is a low cost, low maintenance solution for insulation.

What is Polyurethane Foam?

Polyurethane is a plastic material that can be manufactured for various purposes, including as: adhesives, furniture cushioning, insulation, and even as the soles of your shoes. This multipurpose material is easy to manipulate, which is why it works as a solution to insulation in both high and low expansion varieties.

Low or High Expansion Foam: Which do I need?
The difference between low and high expansion foam is simply how much area the foam covers.

High expansion foam is used on large cracks and gaps. It can grow, or expand, by 30x when only 1″ of thickness is used.

Low expansion Pur foam differs in that it expands by 10%. For insulating small spaces, the best type of foam to use is low expansion.

Benefits of Low Expansion Foam

The ultimate goal here is to properly insulate the home, but it helps to be able to accomplish this goal with material that offers a bit more. The benefits of using low expansion spray foam include:

The cost
For less than $20 you can purchase a 750 ml (32 ounces) can of this low expansion foam.

Easy installation process
The foam is easy to install and apply. Just load the can of foam into the application gun and spray it into the area you want sealed. For tips on how to use the form, Todol has a number of training videos.

Money saved from insulation
Not only does Pur Fill Foam close up those cracks and gaps, but you’ll shave off 20% from your energy bill with proper insulation. Air leaks create a temperature imbalance in the home, increasing the amount you spend on energy every month.

Where to Install Polyurethane Foam

Air leaks can be anywhere, but there are generally some places that you can always expect to find gaps that need to be sealed.

Attic and Garage
During summer and winter months, the attic and garage often mirror and at times intensify the temperature outside. When looking for open holes in the attic or garage, start with the ceiling and walls.

Basement
Air leaks in the basement can be around air vents, ducts, and other places that lead outside.

Block air leaks and the invasion of bugs, rodents by putting low expansion foam to good use.

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What is 2-Part Spray Foam?

2-part spray foam
2-part Spray Foam

Spray polyurethane foam (2-part spray foam) is made by mixing chemicals to react and create a foam, which happens very quickly. When this reaction occurs, the chemicals expand to create a foam that is excellent for gap filling, insulating and flotation. The mixture is also great for air seals and providing a moisture barrier. SPF insulation  resists heat transfer well, and usually provides a solution in reducing unwanted air infiltration through cracks, seams, and joints.

Spray polyurethane foam is made by combining two liquids during a chemical reaction to form a foam. The two liquids come in different containers. These two containers are generally referred to as the “A” side and the “B” side. The “A” side of the  system is typically methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (pMDI). The “B” side of the system is typically a blend of polyols, catalysts, blowing agent, flame retardant, and surfactant. Polyols are part of the chemical reaction to make the foam. The other ingredients in the “B” side serve help control the creation of the foam bubbles (“cells”) in the best way, and to provide the various characteristics of the finished product.

Homeowners use spray polyurethane foam both when retrofitting or choosing insulation for a home because it saves on energy costs and improves comfort. Once the spray is applied, a cellular plastic forms and acts as a continuous barrier on walls, corners and contoured surfaces. SPF insulation is generally described as a high-pressure foam or a low-pressure foam and is available as “open-cell” or “closed-cell” foam, which have several major differences. Although they both have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the desired application requirements one will be best suited to your project.

To learn more about how to buy the right spray foam for your project, view our buying guide.

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Does A CPDS Spray Foam Machine Need Special Foam?

CPDS Spray Foam Dispensing Machine
CPDS Spray Foam Dispensing Machine

We were recently asked by a customer if they could use a 55 gallon drum  of foam material with the CPDS series 2 – the Constant Pressure Dispensing System Foam machine from Touch n Seal. It’s a valid question – he was probably trying to get the most foam dispensed and so the bigger the canister the better. However, the answer is NO. You need to get specific foam that will work with the manufacturer spray foam dispensing machine. In this case the manufacturer is Touch n Seal, and you would need to use either the 750 board foot fire retardant closed cell foam or the 1200 board foot open cell foam. Both come with an A and B tank which contains chemicals that are formulated to work specifically with the CPDS. So you can’t use this foam on its own.

Also the accessories such as gun dispensers and hose assemblies to be used with the spray foam machine are brand specific. So you would have to purchase ones made by Touch n Seal designed to work with the CPDS.

So when deciding to invest in the CPDS machine for your next spray foam project, be sure to make a list of all the components you would need and where you would source them.

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DIY Insulation: Closed Cell Spray Foam Kits

Closed Cell Spray Foam Kits
Closed Cell Spray Foam Kits

If you live in North America, you’re probably experiencing record breaking cold temperatures this year. Related to that, you’re probably also seeing shocking energy bills. Lack of insulation is the main cause of high energy usage in homes and buildings. Spaces that don’t have insulation are the main trouble spots for loss of heat in the winter and also gain of heat in the summer. So, do you hire an insulation contractor and shell out thousands of dollars? A good low-cost solution to insulating your home is via Do-It-Yourself Closed Cell Spray Foam Kits.

A spray foam kit comes with everything you need to insulate those trouble spots in your home or building. It contains a dispensing gun hose assembly as well as cones and nozzles to provide more control over the way it is sprayed. There are 2 types of spray foam available: closed cell and open cell. In closed cell foam, the cells of the chemical are closed and hence have a rigid and denser structure. Open cell foam by contrast has a more open cell structure and therefore has a more sponge like texture. As a result, closed cell foam has a higher R value than open cell foam. Another difference is closed cell foam acts as an air and water vapor barrier, whilst open cell foam is only suitable as an air barrier. Therefore, open cell foam is not recommended for use outside.

Closed Cell Spray Foam is very useful for insulating places such as: garages, rafters, walls and floors as well as roofing and outdoor projects. DIY Spray Foam Insulation comes variety of sizes such as 600, 200 and 15 Board Foot. Board foot just means that one 600 board foot kit will cover a 600 square foot area with 1 inch of foam. So, whether you need to insulate a whole wall in your basement, or you just need to insulate a small area, there is spray foam size for your need. Another advantage of closed cell foam is that it comes in a Fire-Retardant formula. This is useful because some city codes require insulation to have fire retardant formulas.

So if you’re looking for a low cost, do it yourself solution for insulating those cold areas of your home, Closed Cell Spray Foam is a great option. And if you’re unsure if you’re up to the task, there are plenty of instructional guides and videos available to help you.

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Understanding the Types of DIY Foam Insulation

DIY Foam Insulation
DIY Foam Insulation

You don’t need to be a conservation specialist to understand foam insulation; more importantly you don’t need expert knowledge to install it. Whether sealing large areas, small areas, or openings in-between, understanding the types of DIY spray on insulation will go a long way towards raising the comfort level in your home.

R-Value and What it Means for Foam Insulation

Insulation material needs to resist heat to be effective: this is R-value. R value is measured based on the density, thickness, and type of material (spray foam) and it tells us if the material holds a high or low amount of thermal resistance. Both types of foam, closed and open cell, offer different R-values and benefits for insulation.

Closed cell foam

The cells in closed cell foam are packed tightly together, so it insulates better. Because the cells are packed so tightly, the foam also has a high resistance to heat and water – meaning that is boasts a high R-value. Though the R-value is high, over time that number can decrease.

Closed cell, or high expansion foam, better insulates large areas like attics, basements, and garages. FYI: A little goes a long way with high expansion DIY foam insulation – spray only 1″ of this to see it expand 30x.

Open cell foam

The cells in open cell, or low expansion spray foam are loosely packed, and the R-value is lower, but – installed in the right place – this is not a disadvantage for insulation. Open cell foam works as an air barrier, and unlike closed cell foam the R-value of open cell foam will not change over time.

Low expansion DIY spray on insulation expands by only 10% of the initial spray size, so it’s best used in small areas, like cracks and gaps in floors, walls, windows, etc.

It only takes a little information, the right type of foam, and the right amount to properly insulate your home.

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Get the Most Out of Polyurethane Foam Insulation

Polyurethane Foam
Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam has been around since the 1970s, but its use has recently exploded with more and more people jumping on the conservation bandwagon. DIY spray on insulation is a simple, cost-effective solution to air leaks in the home, blocking air intrusion and escape at the same time. In order to get the most out of foam insulation, here are a few bits of information to keep in mind.

What Foam Do You Need?
The biggest factor to consider when deciding which foam to use is simply this: how much area do you need to cover? Both the high expansion foam and low expansion foam expand to cover the area where sprayed, but they differ in a few ways as well.

High Expansion Foam
High expansion foam covers larger gaps, cracks, and the like than low expansion foam.  It also expands 30x when sprayed at 1″ thickness, so I’d advise against spraying liberally.

Low Expansion Foam
In contrast, low expansion spray foam is best used on smaller gaps and only expands by 10%.

How to Use the 2-tank Foam System
The 2-tank foam system makes installing foam insulation an easy do-it-yourself project, so as with any DIY project, make sure to wear protective gear.

In the 2-tank foam system, Tank B must be warmed up to make it the same creamy consistency as A; this allows for an even stream of foam. A few methods for warming Tank B include:

  • Keeping it in a warm room
  • Putting it in a tank warmer
  • Warming the tank in an electric blanket

The 2-tank system uses high expansion foam, so remember that spraying 1″ of thickness will expand 30x.

Which Rooms Need it the Most?
When installed in the draftiest, gap-ridden areas in the home, polyurethane foam insulation can save you up to 20% on cooling and heating costs alone. So which areas have the most potential for energy loss?

Attic and Garage
These areas typically suffer from poor insulation, making it easy for winter and summer to wreak a lot of havoc. Attics and garages can sometimes reflect (and even magnify) the temperature outside. The main source of insulation problems come from the ceiling and walls; check these first before going over the rest of the room for any missed gaps and cracks.

Basement
Basements often deal with humidity, which can lead to mildew and mold. First, make sure the basement receives proper ventilation, then seal all the air leaks. For basements, air leaks can be found around areas that lead outside, like air vents, ducts, and pipes.

Home Exterior
It may not seem like a big deal, but exterior gaps can cause just as much insulation problems as the ones inside. Dryer vents and water faucets (with hoses) are unexpected culprits of air leaks and can also contribute to that inflated energy bill you see each month.

Applying polyurethane foam insulation will help you control the temperature in your home and finally get a better grasp on the outcome of your energy bill.

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