Master Spray Foam Insulation

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Air moves in and out of a home through every hole, crack, and crevice. Roughly one third of air infiltrates through walls, ceiling, and floors. Adding an advanced insulation system is necessary to achieve optimal building performance. Spray foam is that advanced insulation system. Spray foam insulation can maximize a homeowners investment by sealing the building envelope to stop conditioned indoor air from escaping and prevent unconditioned air from entering a home. Air exchange in and out of a home is a leading cause of escalated energy bills. The mechanical systems that heat and cool buildings are continuously operating; reducing extreme temperature variations saves on the overuse of mechanical systems and leads to lower energy bills.


  • Lower energy cost
  • Stops drafts and condensation
  • Better indoor air quality
  • Quieter indoor environment
  • Increased comfort
  • Seals cracks and voids
  • Does not settle or shrink
  • Fills irregular shapes
  • Adds structural strength

Highest R-value
Closed-cell foam is the highest-R-value insulation material available, at up to R6 per inch (the higher the R value of a material, the greater its resistance to the movement of heat). Using thermal imaging cameras with a blower door, it’s not uncommon to see missing pieces of fiberglass or a two-inch gap between batts where heat can be lost. With well-installed foam that’s far less likely to happen because it’s sprayed on.

Space savings
Spray foam takes up much less space than fiberglass or blown-in cellulose. Its thickness depends on where it’s applied, but it averages about three inches deep once installed.

Energy savings
With an energy-efficient HVAC system, you can see savings of up to 40 percent or more if your house is re-insulated with spray foam.

What room is right for spray foam?

Closed-cell spray foam can be used anywhere. It’s especially effective in attics and the rim joist cavities in basements, where the floorboards rest on the foundation. “Existing attics have a high failure rate because warm air enters the attic and moisture mats down the fiberglass and reduces its R value from 40 to about 12.


What is spray polyurethane foam insulation?

Spray polyurethane foam (or “SPF” or “spray foam”) is a rigid foam plastic that can be used for insulation in walls and attics, under roof decks, and on roofs and exterior walls. It air seals around walls, roofs and corners, and on contoured surfaces.

 Is spray polyurethane foam a new product?

SPF has been improving building performance since the middle of the 20th century.

What’s in spray polyurethane foam insulation?

Spray polyurethane foam is made using two primary components, an isocyanate (A-side) and a polyol (B-side), that react to form the polyurethane.

In addition to spray polyurethane foam insulation, isocyanates and polyols are used in the production of things like refrigerator insulation, couches, mattresses, footwear, sports equipment, paints and glues.

 How is spray polyurethane foam insulation made?

Spray polyurethane foam is made by mixing isocyanates and polyols. These liquids react quickly, creating foam which expands within seconds to fill in the spaces being sprayed before it sets. Once formed, the foam sets very quickly.

 How does it work?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF), and polyurethane chemistry in general, is complex, but the basics are relatively easy to understand. Polyurethanes like SPF are formed by mixing a polyol, a type of alcohol, with isocyanates. There are a variety of polyols and isocyanates that can be combined to produce many types of polyurethanes to meet the needs of different applications.

In addition to the polyol and isocyanate, SPF uses catalysts to speed up the reaction, and other substances are added that can give the product a variety of properties, such as durability, breathability, firmness or fire resistance. These additives vary based on the desired outcome and specific product.

 Is spray polyurethane foam insulation a good investment into my home?

As with any energy efficiency home improvement project, you should consider not only the upfront cost of spray polyurethane foam (SPF), but the future savings on energy bills. SPF can help lower energy bills by reducing air leaks and improving a home’s energy efficiency by decreasing the transfer of heat between the indoor and outdoor environments. The average payback period for SPF can vary greatly depending on the home, your energy usage, the environment and other factors.

 What makes spray polyurethane foam insulation unique?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) adheres to the wall, forming a continuous insulation and air barrier on the surfaces and cavities to which it is applied, even contoured surfaces. SPFs properties as an air barrier make it unique because a separate air barrier does not have to be installed separately as an additional step in the retrofit or construction process.

 What are the benefits of using spray polyurethane foam insulation?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulates and acts as an air barrier, both of which are critical to making your home comfortable and reducing heating and cooling costs. There are no pieces to cut or seams to tape or caulk. In addition, SPF may reduce sounds transmitted through the air, add structural strength and improve moisture control to help resist the formation of mold.

 How does spray polyurethane foam improve my home’s energy efficiency?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) resists heat transfer extremely well, helping you keep hot air out during the summer and warm air in during the winter. R-values measure the thermal resistance of insulation and open-cell foam, closed-cell foam and roofing foam can all provide high R-values and act as effective insulation. Higher R-values mean that the material is more resistant to heat passing through it, making the material a better insulator. Open-cell SPF typically has an R-value between R-3 and R-4 per inch, and closed-cell SPF typically has an R-value between R-6 and R-7 per inch. R-values are often listed at 1-inch depth for ease of comparing insulation products. To find out the R-value for a specific insulation, refer to the product’s label or technical data sheets, often available online. R-value also determines how thickly a product must be applied to meet insulation needs.

SPF is also highly effective at keeping outside air from coming into a house through cracks, seams and joints because it forms an air barrier, which means less energy is needed to heat and cool a home. Air infiltration accounts for as much as 40 percent of the energy a home uses for heating and air conditioning, according to the ENERGY STAR program. Spray polyurethane foam offers a highly efficient one-step solution to this problem. Information courtesy of | Spray Foam Coalition Visit www.whysprayfoam.org for more information.

 Where can spray polyurethane foam be used?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) can serve as insulation on the interior of a home or building, in walls, ceiling and attics. It can be applied around corners and on all contoured surfaces. In some regions of the United States, homes with low-slope or flat roofs can use high-density SPF as a roofing material, or as a replacement for insulating sheathing, to provide high protection against heat and water infiltration. SPF can also strengthen the entire structure to which it is applied and increase a building’s resistance to wind uplift.

 How long will spray polyurethane foam last/be effective?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) resists settling, structural deterioration and decomposition over time. In most wall and roof cavity applications, SPF should last the lifetime of the building. Ask your contractor for more information about the expected lifespan of the SPF being installed in your home.

 Will there be odors during installation?

Just like other home projects, installing spray polyurethane foam can cause odors for a limited period of time. When having spray polyurethane foam installed, talk to your professional contractor about the product’s curing time and safety practices. During installation, homeowners, their children and pets leave the home or building. Your professional contractor wears personal protective equipment during and immediately following the application of the product. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after spray polyurethane foam cures, it is considered to be relatively inert, which means the chemicals are finished reacting.

 How long does installation take?

Installation time varies significantly depending on the size of the job and the ease of access to the site. When having spray polyurethane foam installed, talk to your professional contractor about the amount of time it takes to install the product and its curing time and safety practices. A small amount of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) applied to a home’s interior can take as little as one to two hours to complete. Insulating an attic or basement in most normal homes can be completed in less than a day. It is important to remember that while the foam can be installed fairly quickly, homeowners, children and pets leave the home for the amount of time recommended by the SPF manufacturer.

 Will spray polyurethane foam insulation release odors after it is applied?

With proper mechanical ventilation, homeowners are unlikely to smell odors from spray polyurethane foam insulation after it has been applied and allowed time to cure. If you are concerned about odors after the spray polyurethane foam installation, contact your professional contractor.

Can I be in the house when spray polyurethane foam is installed?

Homeowners, their children and pets leave the home during the installation process. There are a number of variables that affect for how long to leave the home, including temperature, humidity levels and the SPFs formula. Homeowners should discuss the amount of time they need to wait before reentering their home with their contractor.

 Does the SPF insulation pose a fire hazard?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) products, as well as most other materials in homes, are designed to meet all applicable building and fire code regulations. SPF is an organic material and like other organic materials such as wood, paper, cotton, wool, and many others, it can ignite and burn if exposed to a sufficient heat source. To learn more about the properties of a particular SPF product, ask your contractor or the product manufacturer.

Manufacturers can usually provide reports from independent laboratories and/or building code evaluation services that verify building code compliance.

 Can spray polyurethane foam make my house quieter?

Spray polyurethane foam can help minimize airborne sound transmission. Open-cell foam can reduce high-frequency noise and closed-cell foam can reduce low-frequency noise. A combination of open- and closed-cell foams can help maximize noise reduction. It is important to keep in mind that proper sound control involves specific design elements and construction techniques, including layering of materials to achieve desired performance, not just the use of specific products.

 Where can I find a spray polyurethane foam insulation professional contractor?

When having spray polyurethane foam (SPF) installed in your home, work with a professional contractor who can educate you on the installation process. A professional contractor can explain the benefits of SPF as well as safe use and handling practices during installation.

There are several ways to find a professional contractor, including the membership directory of the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance, which lists contractors by location. It is a good idea to ask contractors about their experience and training, and to provide customer references. Homeowners should also consider using a certified SPF contractor. Information courtesy of | Spray Foam Coalition Visit www.whysprayfoam.org for more information.

What are the different types of spray polyurethane foam?

There are several different types of spray polyurethane foam (SPF), each having their own advantages. It is generally categorized by the type of cell, or particles, of the foam; the density of the foam; and the way it is applied.

  • Open-cell or closed-cell: First, spray polyurethane foam can be open- or closed-cell. This refers to the tiny particles or cells of the foam itself and the form they take.
  • High-, medium- or low-density: Second, spray polyurethane foam is described by its density. For example, closed-cell foams can be high-density or medium-density for use on roofs, building exteriors and large wall applications. Open-cell foam is low-density, and is often used for interior cavity fill and unvented attic applications.
  • High-pressure, low-pressure or foam sealant: Finally, spray polyurethane foam is described by the way that it is applied, using high pressure systems, low-pressure systems or kits, or cans of already-mixed foam sealant. The low-pressure sealant is also sometimes called foam-in-a-can.

A professional spray polyurethane foam contractor can help you choose the best type of foam to fit your project. It is important to discuss with your contractor what type of SPF insulation is best suited to your application. This chart provides more information about the typical characteristics and differences between open-cell and closed-cell foams:

Higher R-value (greater than 6.0 per inch) R-value (approximately 3.5 per inch)
Lower moisture vapor permeability (low perm) Higher moisture vapor permeability, but controlled
Air barrier Air barrier at full wall thickness
Higher strength and rigidity Lower strength and rigidity
Resists water Not suggested for applications in direct contact with water
Medium density (1.75 – 2.25 lbs/ft3) Lower density (0.4 – 1.2 lbs./ft3)
Absorbs sound Absorbs sound very well

Can I install spray polyurethane foam myself?

High-pressure two-component SPF systems are used when insulating larger areas, such as walls and roofs on new construction or major renovations.

These products are not a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project and are designed for professional use. These systems require special training and the use of specialized personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators. When high-pressure two-component spray polyurethane foam insulation is needed, an SPF contractor having the proper training, equipment and personal protective gear to handle these large-scale projects should be hired.

When applying two-component low-pressure SPF, building and home owners need to consider a trained professional contractor. Trained professional contractors have access to a wide variety of training; are familiar with important safety precautions, local codes and regulations; and can offer guidance about the type and amount of insulation.

There are insulating foam sealant products available in cans for do-it-yourselfers at home improvement stores. These products are used for small “bead-type” applications, such as sealing windows and doors, or filling small gaps and cracks.

 Are there federal tax credits for using spray polyurethane foam?

Retrofitting one’s home with spray polyurethane foam (SPF) may help homeowners qualify for tax credits, rebates and other incentives that can help offset renovation expenses. To find available local and state incentives, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) at www.dsireusa.org. For more information on the ENERGY STAR® webpage https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.

What is spray polyurethane foam roofing?

Like spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation, SPF roofing is very similar to closed-cell SPF insulation, but it has a higher average density and is thus more rigid. It is created in the same manner as high-pressure SPF insulation by mixing liquid chemicals on the job site to create high-density foam that is impervious to water, allowing it to serve as a very effective roofing material. In some regions of the United States, homes with low-slope or flat roofs can use SPF to improve the home’s air seal and lower heating and cooling energy usage. SPF roofing provides high protection against heat infiltration, strengthens the entire structure to which it is applied and can increase a building’s resistance to wind uplift.