Understanding the Benefits of Open-Cell and Closed-Cell Spray Foam Insulation

When it comes to insulation, there are two main types of spray foam that are commonly used: open-cell and closed-cell. Each type of foam has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to understand the benefits of each in order to make an informed decision. Medium density foam is applied as low or high pressure two-component spray foam and offers specific benefits depending on the climate and type of building in which it is used. This type of foam has an R-value per inch, providing the most optimal resistance to heat flow.

It also acts as a barrier to air, steam, and water, and can even help reduce noise. Low-density spray foam is an open-cell spray foam, meaning it has a lower R-value than closed-cell foam. However, it makes up for this with other benefits such as a lower coverage of 0.5 pounds per cubic foot and the ability to expand more than closed-cell foam, allowing you to cover a larger area with the same amount of foam. Open-cell foams are perfect for smaller application areas such as narrow spaces and attics. High density spray foam is another type of closed-cell foam that has an even higher R-value than medium density foam. R-values for high density foams start at 6.5 per inch, providing the most optimal resistance to heat flow.

High density foam has a larger coverage range than low density foam, providing 2 pounds of foam per cubic foot. In most cases, installing spray foam insulation is a big job best left to a professional insulator. However, with the advent of DIY spray foam kits, smaller tasks are now manageable for non-professionals. Associate Editor Patrick McCombe tested five do-it-yourself spray foam kits to examine how they work. Spray foam is especially useful for insulating unventilated ceiling assemblies, basement walls, and a variety of hard-to-reach places. Closed-cell aerosol foams provide a higher R-value per inch than less expensive types of insulation such as fiberglass, cellulose, or open-cell foam, all of which have R-values of R-3.2 to R-3.8 per inch.

Closed-cell spray foam uses expanding agents that are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with a high global warming potential. Open-cell spray foam uses water or CO2 as an expanding agent, and some open-cell foams use biobased raw materials such as sucrose or soybean oil instead of petrochemicals. Many green builders avoid using closed-cell spray foam because the expanding agents of most types of closed-cell foam are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with a high global warming potential. We provide spray foam insulation services in Montgomery, Elmore, Autauga, Tallapoosa, Macon, Lowndes, Chilton and Butler counties. Choosing the right type of foam is essential since one type can be unnecessary or completely ineffective in certain applications. Spray foam is versatile and can seal cavities in walls, exterior walls, mezzanines, attics, and small gaps and crevices throughout the home. This type of insulation has a higher R-value per inch making it suitable for small areas that require the highest possible R-value to meet building code requirements and has long term thermal resistance (LTTR).

The R-values range from 5.1 to 6.8 depending on the manufacturer. Product innovation over the years has involved the introduction of several different types of spray foam insulation. The factors mentioned above are catalysts when deciding what type of foam to use since closed cell and open cell foams are the most common type used in construction applications.

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