Spray foam insulation is one of the most widely used home insulation solutions. It provides excellent insulation and improves energy efficiency, among many other benefits. While you can always trust your local insulation contractors to handle all of the details, some homeowners have a few questions about spray foam insulation.
The spray foam in your attic is made of a type of polymer called polyurethane. While most polyurethane use is for various types of foams, it can also be used as a flexible or rigid plastic when processed under different conditions.
This versatile compound is used in an extensive range of applications. The sponge in your kitchen is likely made of a different type of polyurethane foam, and you’ll also find it in adhesives, electrical components, and even spandex!
In the case of spray foam, the polyurethane is made on the spot by combining two chemicals together. When mixed, isocyanate and polyol resin form polyurethane that can be sprayed into wall or attic cavities. The fresh polyurethane then cures into place, making for incredibly easy application.
Polyurethane has a few key properties that make it the perfect choice for insulation. As with any insulation, one of the most important criteria to consider is thermal resistance – how well the material stops heat flow. In insulation, this is measured as the R-value, with higher R-values meaning more heat flow reduction.
There are other types of spray foams on the market as well, but polyurethane has the highest R-value. It also has a higher R-value than glass wool, a material traditionally used for insulation in similar applications. The density of the foam and the thickness applied both affect the overall R-value as well.
Polyurethane is an incredibly versatile compound and is also used to produce board insulation. Dense foam is shaped into boards and cut to be installed between studs and joists or underneath exterior siding. While every type of insulation can be the right choice somewhere, spray foam has a number of key advantages.
The application is incredibly straightforward and fast. Insulation contractors can complete the job more quickly than other insulation types. Spray foam insulation is also better suited for irregular spaces like attics, where cutting foam board insulation can be a considerable challenge.
Spray foam insulation also protects against air leakage. The foam naturally expands to fill gaps as it is applied, which can block any small holes that are allowing free airflow. This can reduce drafts in your home and help save on energy costs.
The spray foam provides similar protection against moisture. It blocks the gaps through which moisture can enter, helping prevent water damage and mold issues in the future. In many cases, you don’t even need a vapor barrier when installing spray foam insulation.
Leaving these kinds of decisions to the professionals is generally the best choice to make. Different situations call for different solutions, and there isn’t any one-size-fits-all insulation type. Polyurethane insulation is incredibly versatile but isn’t necessarily the right choice every time.
Spray foam insulation delivers superior performance but can also be more expensive than other options. Finding the right balance between cost and performance can be difficult. Homeowners will have to consider longevity, energy efficiency, maintenance, and the unique issues presented by their homes.
For attic insulation, spray foam is generally considered the gold standard. If you need to replace your attic insulation soon, you should consider polyurethane spray foam insulation for its superior performance and excellent benefits.