Understanding the Different Types of Spray Foam Insulation

As a spray foam contractor, it can be difficult to remember the different types of spray foam insulation and when to use them. To make the right choice, it is important to understand the differences between the three main types of spray foam insulation, their characteristics, and their applications. High-density foam is a closed-cell foam that has an R-value of 6.5 per inch. This type of foam is ideal for applications that require a high level of thermal resistance, such as in walls and ceilings.

High-density foam has a coverage range of 2.5 pounds per cubic foot, making it one of the most effective insulating materials available. Medium density spray foam is another type of closed-cell foam that has an even higher R-value than high density foam. The R-values for medium density foams start at 5.7 per inch, providing the most effective resistance to heat flow. Medium density foam has a slightly smaller coverage range than high density foam, providing 2 pounds of foam per cubic foot. Low-density spray foam is an open-cell spray foam, meaning it does not have such a high R-value. Low-density foam has an initial R-value of 3.6 per inch.

However, this insulating material compensates for its lower R-value with other benefits. It has a lower coverage of 0.5 pounds per cubic foot; however, open-cell foam expands more than closed-cell foam, meaning you can use the same amount of foam to cover a larger area. Open-cell foams expand to fill tight spaces, making them ideal for smaller application areas such as narrow spaces and attics. The two main factors to consider when distinguishing open-cell and closed-cell foam are: Open-cell spray foam uses water or CO2 as an expanding agent, and some open-cell foams, especially those with low density, use raw materials of biological origin such as sucrose or soybean oil instead of petrochemicals. Because of its high R-value, medium-density foam is ideal for applications that require optimal thermal resistance. Polyurethane foam can even be used in decorative environments such as using foam to create interior moldings or it can be dyed or painted to simulate wood grain.

The cells contain a gas that gives the foam the ability to expand and provide better insulation. However, because closed-cell foam has a higher density, it requires more material than open-cell foam, so it has a higher cost. Therefore, using open-cell foam in flotation applications or below ground level would provide little or no thermal insulation. Despite its higher R value, the cost per R of closed-cell foam is still more expensive than that of open-cell foam. When starting out as a spray foam contractor, it is essential to understand the different types of spray foam insulation and when to use them. Knowing the differences between open and closed cell foams can help you make an informed decision about which type is best for your project.

We hope this brief guide has clarified the differences between these three main types of foam insulation and how they can be used in various applications. If you need mobile spray foam equipment and other equipment to start your business, feel free to check out our selection here at Spray Foam Systems.

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