Allison--would be very interested in your take on the GHG issues of foams, which have received lots of smart commentary recently. To highlight a few: architect Jesse Thompson's comments on Tom's Good vs Bad post on Energy Circle, the very thorough piece by Alex Wilson on Green Building Advisor and Michael Anschel's cautionary diatribe on Remodeling. 
Open-cell is also known as half-pound foam. It has an R-Value of 3.5-3.6 per inch, and its density is bout 0.5 pounds per cubic food. Low-density foams like these are made partially from raw biological materials Carbon dioxide or water is also used in the makeup. Open-cell uses far less material than closed-cell, but its R-Value is lower. Also, open cell requires a vapor retarder (like gypsum wallboard) and is riskier when used for roof sheathing. It's not highly recommended that you use open-cell insulation if you live in a cold climate unless you have that extra barrier. You should also compare how much money you spend versus how effective the open-cell insulation is wherever it's installed.
There is a significant price difference when it comes to using foam insulation to insulate a new versus older home. Spraying insulation inside a newly constructed home is easier because the installation company can ensure the insulation will work effectively and design it for optimum defense against sound, heat transfer and utility costs. Installing spray foam in older homes that contain existing insulation can cost additional time and money -- it is not usually recommended as compared to weatherization or an energy aduit.
Note: The practice of foam insulating the attic has raised eyebrows in the building industry because "standard" roofing techniques call for the attic to be ventilated; however, in a vented attic situation it will become approximately 130 degrees in the summer. There's no reason for an air-conditioning and vent-ductwork to have to work in that type of severe conditions. By applying Icynene right on the underside of the roof deck, the severe temperatures no longer exist in the attic. In short, the attic is now a "conditioned" space of the house that is just as comfortable as any other room in the home. This is called a "Compact Roof", which means you can frame right up against it. The one drawback of using expanded foam on the inside of the roof is that this will cause the temperature of the shingles to rise, but how much is not yet known. And how much damage a rise in temperatures could cause is debatable.
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The drawback to spray foam insulation is it's been known to cause certain health issues such irritation of the eye and the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. Direct contact can cause inflammation to the skin, and some individuals have been known to break out in a rash on the arms, chest and neck area. Spray foam insulation has also been linked to a few cases of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This condition can cause:


In addition, it's difficult for an inexperienced installer to evenly spread the insulation foam over a surface. Miissing spots can leave holes and gaps for cold air to get through. Proceed with this project yourself only if you're doing a small insulation project -- such as installing foam in a crawl space or around your plumbing. Leave larger projects like the attic, basement or garage to the professional insulation contractors. Insulation professionals have the tools, equipment and background knowledge necessary. Moreover, they know how to accurately price insulation, whereas you could inaccurately budget for a DIY project and end up paying significantly more. Don't take the medical, physical or financial risks that come with pursuing this as a DIY project unless you're absolutely certain you have the skills.
Note: The practice of foam insulating the attic has raised eyebrows in the building industry because "standard" roofing techniques call for the attic to be ventilated; however, in a vented attic situation it will become approximately 130 degrees in the summer. There's no reason for an air-conditioning and vent-ductwork to have to work in that type of severe conditions. By applying Icynene right on the underside of the roof deck, the severe temperatures no longer exist in the attic. In short, the attic is now a "conditioned" space of the house that is just as comfortable as any other room in the home. This is called a "Compact Roof", which means you can frame right up against it. The one drawback of using expanded foam on the inside of the roof is that this will cause the temperature of the shingles to rise, but how much is not yet known. And how much damage a rise in temperatures could cause is debatable.
I live in Baton Rouge LA with a very old and drafty house. There is no blockages in the walls between the crawl space and attic. Lots of critters just come on in. I would like to used closed cell sprayed under house to warm up floors and block moisture. I would like to spray closed cell into attic, but am afraid of enclosing attic due to moisture build-up. Can I spray closed cell against the attic floor in same way as installing bats, thus leaving my venting the same as it always has been. Other ideas? Thanks.
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The problem was that the installer was doing his first spray foam job ever, and the thickness of the insulation varied from zero (visible roof deck) to about 9". Unfortunately, good average thickness doesn't cut it. The coverage needs to be uniform because a lot of heat will go through the under-insulated areas. (See my article on flat or lumpy insulation performance.)
If you’re not familiar, spray foam is a type of insulation that expands after you spray. The foam expands and seals, avoiding any type of unnecessary moisture (which can create mold) or encouraging pests to eat through your walls. It protects the lining of your house, and even can protect the heating and cooling of your house during those unbearably cold or hot days. 

Part of that guidance will be explaining that interior, two component foam is applied with the professional using specific personal protective equipment (high-pressure foam is installed while using a respirator, for example). It is encouraged that professionals explain clearly to customers that this equipment, coupled with certain work and engineering practices, including ventilation, is used to minimize exposures to the chemicals used to make SPF during the job.

Spray Foam Attic Insulation Cost


Closed-cell (aka two-pound foam) is denser than open-cell at about 2 pounds per cubic foot. Its R-Value is between 6-6.5 per inch. As a result, this kind of foam is much more expensive than its counterpart. The reason closed-cell doesn't need a vapor retarder is because it already has one. It's permeance is 0.8 perm, which means it can handle cold climates without the use of an additional board or drywall. Closed-cell uses hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) as part of its makeup. However, this material has been known to have a high global warming effect. If you want a green insulation solution, this is not the material to use. A way to avoid this and still use closed-cell is by installing it alongside fiberglass batts.
Roof coatings can add 25 years to the service life of a roof and reduce the amount of discarded roofing materials that end up in landfills. The infrared image on the right shows 175 °F (79 °C) on the uncoated (black) section of the modified bitumen roof. The coated (white) section is 79 °F (26 °C). Field studies have shown that cool roof coatings can lower rooftop temperatures and reduce air conditioning bills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o&feature=kp

This stuff works GREAT ! I live in an older mobile home that had a lot of leaks when I moved-in. I worked for two years to locate and fix them all. Now I simply go over all of the repaired places once a year just to be sure everything is OK. NO LEAKS FOR 4 YEARS NOW!!  Others here use "sno proof" or something that does not stop leaks. When I tell them about my success, they don't seem to want to pay the$ for this superior product. Too bad!. I used the tape in  repairing the leaks.
I am building a house in Central Texas (Caldwell). Several builders are cautious about using foam insulation and/or a closed attic. I would like to use both. Here in Texas, heat and humidity (except for the past few years of drought) are a continuing problem. Which type of foam would be the best to use in our home, where should the vapor barrier be or should be use one at all, if we are using fans in the exterior walls to supply fresh air to the house, do we need a vented attic or will it cause more problems than it solve? I have printed out your article and the blogs to give to my contractors and architect, but I would really appreciate your comments on the products being used in my part of the US. 
Solvent-based polyurethane coatings have excellent adhesion and when used as a base coat over asphalt, EPDM, TPO or PVC, it eliminates the need for a primer. The resulting savings on labor and material more than offsets the higher cost of the product. When top coated with silicone, it gives you the best of both worlds. It's also an excellent gutter and RV coating.
As this example illustrates, it's important to seal the envelope completely. One of spray foam's biggest selling points is its air-sealing ability, but it can't seal places where it's not sprayed. One of the nice things about using spray foam in new construction is that you can do a Blower Door test before the drywall goes in. Even better, you can test for leaks with a fog machine. https://youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o
I am an Architect in Toronto. I am designing a new roof addition to a row house building. Because of existing conditions and the shape of the new roof. It may be easiest to use closed cell spray foam within the areas of the joists. My question is when spray foam is used in this situation do I need to worry about how the joist members may be thermal bridges? It is not common to provide a little bit of rigid insulation to protect the joist members? The additional layer of outboard insulation will require an extra layer of plywood above the insulation which will add to cost.

How Much Does Spray Foam Weigh

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