Spray Foam Insulation: Common Questions Answered from Elite Insulation

Should you use spray foam insulation on your next project? Common questions answered by Ken Wells from Elite Insulation

A common question we face on each job is which kind of insulation is right for the goals established. I asked Ken Wells to answer some of the common questions we face.  Here are his responses:

spray foam insulation

Does spray foam insulation cause indoor air quality problems?

Any improperly installed insulation has the potential to cause or lead to indoor air quality issues.  This is why it’s very important to choose your insulation contractor carefully, just as you would with any other contractor.  There are also many other building products and home goods inside your home which have the potential to be the source of indoor air quality issues.  Spray Polyurethane foam insulation utilizes diisocyanate, which isn’t scientifically detectable after 1 hour of when the foam ins applied. Installing spray foam requires a professional certification and proper equipment to install it.  Properly installed spray foam insulation is an inert plastic and is just as safe as the plastic trash bag in your kitchen trash can.

spray foam insulation spray foam insulation

How are R13 insulation different between fiberglass and foam?

Fiberglass works by trapping air inside tiny glass fibers that contain small bubbles of air, which slows the transfer of heat.  It’s installed by folding, wrapping and cutting pieces to place in stud cavities.  Human installation error coupled with the fact that fiberglass doesn’t hold in heat well and loses 40% of insulating capacity when outside temperatures are below 20° F make it an inferior product in comparison.  Fiberglass has been laboratory tested to lose 8% of its labeled R-value right out of the bag, and has a 28% loss in R-value as commonly installed. Spray foam is sprayed by a certified spray foam applicator, expanding into all gaps, cracks and cavities and can adapt to any structural design, virtually eliminating human installation error.  Most importantly, it’s an air barrier with excellent thermal properties for your home that seals warm and conditioned air in your home year round.

spray foam insulation

How much does it cost?

The up front costs for spray foam can be as much as three times the cost of conventional fibrous insulations, depending on your project.  The benefits far out-weigh the difference in the up front costs. With spray foam insulation, you will be more comfortable in your home, which for most is their biggest investment.  Utility bills are documented to be half as much or more with spray foam, which makes for a quick payback period.

spray foam insulationspray foam insulation

For more questions answered, give them a call:

Elite Insulation (866-841-3034) offers:

Fiberglass Blown Insulation
Cellulose Blown Insulation
Fibergalss Batt Insulation (ask about our R-40 and R-49 Batted Insulation)
Cotton Batt Insulation
Spray Foam Insulation, Through PolyPro Spray Foam
Free, no obligation estimates

How Much Insulation Should You Have in Your Attic?

There are three main types of attic insulation: fiberglass, cellulose, and foam. In new construction we almost always specify open-cell spray foam insulation. It creates an air-tight envelope for the top of your home. So how much should you install? Since it is air tight, R-38 performs really well to achieve a high performance home. According to Ken Wells from Elite Insulation, “R-38 is the code required minimum, but in certain circumstances less open cell foam can still be very effective.”

harrisonburg spray foam

Cellulose insulation is another option.

The advantage is cellulose offers thermal mass that absorbs heat in the day and releases heat back out at night. Some might see this as a disadvantage in hot months as the house will not cool down overnight as much. However, the insulation does not air seal the attic from the conditioned space. Everywhere you have a “hole” in the drywall (recessed can lights, attic access, electrical wires…) there is a high potential for air leaks. With cellulose you will want more insulation than you would use with foam – R-49 which is the code minimum in most states across the country.

cellulose insulation

Fiberglass insulation is the last option on the list.

This insulation does not offer the advantages of thermal mass and it is not air-tight. When used in the attic, there should not be any duct work above the insulation. I would recommend R-72 to provide adequate insulation value in the attic. When it is used, you have to make sure to have complete coverage of the attic space.

attic insulation

So when possible, use spray foam insulation. When you have to settle for another type of insulation, look at cellulose.