When and where to use Spray Foam Insulation

Spray polyurethane foam, also known as SPF, is a heat activated polymer which is used for foam insulation. This insulation is created by mixing a couple of ingredients on the site using special equipment thus turning it into a spray insulation. This spray foam is then sprayed on the surface to be insulated using a heated hose and nozzel.

Classification based on spray form type

The spray foam insulation can be divided into two parts based on the method of foaming- Closed cell spray foam & open cell spray foam. Open cell is a light spray foam which is cheap while having less insulating power. Closed cell spray foam is a dense, expensive spray foam which improves the insulation quality, along with providing some support to a few structures, while acting like a water-vapour barrier, thanks to its less permeable nature.

Classification of SPF based on versions and usage

  • High Density Low Pressure SPF – The high density low pressure SPF manufactured by many companies like Handy Foam is used where high compressive strength is required.
  • Quick Cure Low Pressure SPF – The quick cure spray foam is a two component system used for filling up large surfaces. It offers excellent adhesion property.
  • E84 Class 1(A) Low Pressure SPF- The class A spray foam is a fire rated spray foam which provides excellent adhesion property while creating a continuous air barrier. Also known as Class 1.
  • Commercial Vehicle Low Pressure SPF – This insulation is used in a vehicle's frame, undercarriage and engine compartment. This foam forms a protective layer, helping reduce the vibrations, which makes for a comfortable ride environment

Apart from this, there are several other types like the Roof Patch Low Pressure SPF, Sound Barrier Low Pressure SPF, Low Density Low Pressure SPF etc.

Advantages of Spray Foam insulation over other insulations

Spray Foam insulation tackles the issue of air leakages in a much better way than any other insulation type and the reason for this is quite simple actually. It is sprayed into the place where insulation is required. This allows for the foam to fill up the cavities or block holes which might otherwise compromise the quality of the building envelope. This foam can be put up on a vertical wall as well as a horizontal surface while offering, not only thermal insulation, but also some air barrier. Since this foam insulation is synthetic, it does not attract any form of insects or rodents and when applied properly, it greatly contributes to energy efficiency.

Other advantage of spray foam insulation is that it is non-toxic & it offers a lifetime guarantee. It also has expansion property which allows it to expand to almost 100 times of its original volume such that any form of air gaps are done away with, eliminating the spaces and cracks.

Method for insulation of Spray foam insulator

If one is insulating a small portion in a wall, buying your own spray foam tank makes sense. However, if the work is for more than 200 square feet, hiring a professional help makes much more sense, because one would lack the equipment which would be required for doing the large scale job. The following is the method for insulating a big space with SPF insulation-

  • Do testing to begin with. The material expands to 100 times its volume and hence spray should be used conservatively.
  • Spraying should be done evenly between all the studs & the back-side of the exterior casing. One should allow the foam to expand, so that it fills up the gaps.
  • Excess foam to be taken out using a handsaw blade, if it extends beyond the studs.

Thus, spray foam insulation offers much better insulation qualities than fiberglass insulation due to its ease and simplicity of use and its property but the down side is it is not always a do it yourself job.

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