Sean, thanks for jumping in and answering John's questions. About choosing the right foam, I intentionally avoided the open cell vs. closed cell foam debate. I did this partly because it's worthy of an article all by itself, but mainly I didn't include it because, despite all the warnings the two sides issue about the other, I've never personally seen a problem caused by using open cell where they should've used closed cell or vice versa. I'm sure things like that happen; I just haven't seen it yet.

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. 


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. 
RetroFoam of Michigan has more than 15 years of experience insulating thousands of homes and pole barns across the lower peninsula. We hear a lot of misconceptions about foam insulation and work to make sure we clear up any wrong ideas about foam insulation. Our staff helped us put together this list of misconceptions adding their insights to dispel any misinformation.
I did a LOT of prep before using this product. Cleaned, vacuumed, installed additional insulation etc etc etc. This spray foam was easy to work with, and did it's job as it was supposed to. If you are curious, this kit was purchased because - every "foam insulation company" I contacted either did not call back (due to no interest) OR this was too small of a job. That is why I went DIY on this one, that and: I was advised by one of these companies that they have a minimum $2k job because ... (insert your answer here, but I will choose that everyone needs to eat).
once the foam is installed correctly, it is a inert plastic not much different than the foam cushions you sit on. there is not a health rick unless you have off ratio uncured foam that has not mixed properly. the foam is absolutely a health risk in its raw forms before it is mixed and cured. You should not be in the building without proper respirators and eye protection. The spray foam industry should be controlled and regulated by the same standards, testing and inspections that framing ,electrical and plumbing are. until that happens then you will have idiots with spray rigs ruining peoples homes and ruining the market for honest foam contractors that know how to price a job fairly and complete it correctly. http://www.youtube.com/embed/ggLAUsiuI_o
Liquid Roof is a true EDPM rubber, and is the only one sold in liquid form. It makes installations easy. It can be described as a liquid version of the single-ply EPDM membrane that has established an outstanding performance record spanning more than 30 years. The EPDM chemistry has two unique features not possessed by any other rubber: It is unaffected by ultraviolet radiation and ozone and it can tolerate continuous exposure at temperatures above 300° F. The latter feature is also what gives EPDM rubbers the best aging properties of all elastomers (they retain flexibility longer).
Spray foam is a very specialized packing material, often required for use in shipping valuable fragile items. Engineered packaging principles are designed to protect sculptures, vases, large fossils, lamp bases, busts, computers, furniture, chandeliers and other objects of unusual shape. By virtue of the liquid foam expanding by up to 30-60 times the volume of its liquid state, it efficiently protects almost any size, form and weight.
The Canadian National Building Code references the CAN/ULC S705.2 National Application Standard which must be followed during all installations of 2lb medium density closed cell polyurethane foam. Every installer of CAN/ULC-S705.1 compliant medium density, spray applied foam must be licensed in order to spray foam and hold valid photo ID issued by their Quality Assurance Program (QAP) provider showing their license is in good standing.

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I am on my third project with foam it green. I like the simplicity of it, the color blending to make it green, it alerts you quickly if something is wrong with the blending so you don't waste alot of valuable material. Follow the instructions closely, put in the prep time and you will have no issues. It seems most people's negative comments have to do with not following instructions or guidelines. It is about as close to point and shoot as you can get but there are still some essential details that need attention. The only complaint I have is the fragility of the gun, last project I cracked one on accident but luckily needed two kits to finish the project so I had a back up, but I was more careful to gently lay the gun down between applications.
Before you decide on spray foam or another method of insulation, it's important to understand the superiority of spray foam compared to traditional materials. When compared to fiberglass batts, spray foam offers nearly double the R-value per inch, achieves air-sealing and insulation in one step, won't be damaged by mold or moisture, and won't settle, compress, or otherwise be damaged to the point it needs replacement.
Spray polyurethane foam, or SPF, is the main type of 2-part, closed-cell spray foam used by insulation contractors. Large-scale insulation jobs require special equipment as well as safety gear to protect the installer from chemical fumes during installation. When the foam cures and hardens just several minutes after application, it's completely safe for as long as it stays in place.

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Check with the coating manufacturer who may be able to suggest applicators who have used their products and have familiarity with the application. Another option would be to interview contractors and ask specific questions about their proven ability to install roof coatings. Contractors affiliated with the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) or local roofing contractor trade associations typically are more knowledgeable. Consult those groups’ websites for contractors.

I've seen this only once, and it was with closed cell foam, but I've heard of it happening with open cell foam, too. I don't know the details, but I've heard it could result from a bad batch of chemicals, improper mixing, or too high a temperature. Whatever the cause, it's not a good thing. The photo below shows how the spray foam pulled away from the studs. A little bit of uninsulated area like that adds up to a lot of heat loss/gain when the whole house has that problem, as it did here.
Also, I'm wondering... Is this website is being regularly updated? A local installer (in Oct, 2010) in MA quoted over twice the price you list here. "Open cell alone ~$1.35 per sq ft for R-13. Or a 'hybrid method' using 2inch closed cell for R-13 followed by 1.5inch open cell for R-6. Hybrid is $2.85 per sq foot for R-19 rating". Maybe installers are charging higher prices to profit from those trying to meet government energy rebate by Dec 31?
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Jennifer, I'm not an expert on the health effects of closed cell foam. A lot of people live in houses with closed cell foam and have no health problems from it, at least not short-term, acute problems. I do know of one person who had it removed from her crawl space because she was convinced it caused her dog to get sick, but I know only what she told me.  
Sealection® 500 has been Demilec's flagship product for more than 20 years, and has positioned Demilec as an industry-leading spray foam insulation manufacturer. As an environmentally-friendly product, it delivers superior performance, energy savings, and is an excellent return on investment for architects, builders, contractors, and homeowners, making it the ideal choice for insulation.
Foam is very sticky; you'll need to wear disposable coveralls with a hood, and gloves, a face mask, and eye protection. It takes some practice to spray foam evenly and, because it expands so dramatically, to control its depth; 2 inches is all you need to seal the joist cavities. You need a clear area so that you can work without interruption; any pause longer than 30 seconds will clog the nozzle and require putting on a new one. It's also critical that the air temperature stays between 75 and 85 degrees.
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://www.youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o?version=3
You've got no argument from me there, Dennis. Getting a good installer if you're going with spray foam is crucial. Many builders or homeowners don't know how to find one, however, and that's where third party inspections come in. Also, even good installers have bad days, but if someone comes in behind them with a measuring probe and a Blower Door, there will be fewer sub-par foam jobs.  

Spray foam is a fully adhered insulation that is spray applied into wall cavities, providing a continuous air and moisture barrier. Spray foam allows efficient use of your HVAC system and helps regulate the temperature fluctuations and humidity in your home. Spray foam effectively seals the building envelope, filling in any cracks and crevices, the common source of air and moisture infiltration as well as temperature variations.

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My project was a 2 part one.  First the guest house was to be used for an elderly couple with some health issues.  The idea of using chemicals which can be harmful to the respiratory track has made me change my mind about proceeding. The guest house was single story with a low attic height and 600 square feet and the main house (part 2)  is 2,800 sq feet. After reading the comments below, I would like a quote from someone that uses a soy product that is non toxic. .  
I have to insulate my walls at the end of this week. That does not give me time to procure slow-rise foam, so my stud cavities will be filled with foam before I'm ready to fill the corner voids. I will not be able to drill straight through the corner studs. Instead, I will have to remove material where the studs meet. What sort of tool do you envisioning me holding while I create space to pump foam into my 1972 corner voids?
Sean, thanks for jumping in and answering John's questions. About choosing the right foam, I intentionally avoided the open cell vs. closed cell foam debate. I did this partly because it's worthy of an article all by itself, but mainly I didn't include it because, despite all the warnings the two sides issue about the other, I've never personally seen a problem caused by using open cell where they should've used closed cell or vice versa. I'm sure things like that happen; I just haven't seen it yet.
Excellent kit for insulating a house. Slow rising foam takes longer to insulate an area as you must do it in layers 1" thick. Any thicker can overheat the chemicals and prevent a proper cure and off-gassing. Recommend purchasing a second suit and nozzles so you can use it multiple days to achieve the thickness desired for the highest R value. Seals up and insulates much better than traditional fiberglass. The sound suppression is noticeably different. Used it to insulate the ceiling above our bedroom. The sound is remarkably more quiet than the fiberglass insulation we had before. The only down side is the weight of the containers. Using a smaller kit would be easier to handle and move around when spraying a ceiling in an attic. A word of caution, use plywood that spans at least 2 joist per container when spraying in an attic to hold the weight.

Simple – we’ve seen experienced contractors work with the separate nitrogen tanks and spray foam rigs and have one heck of a time. These spray foam insulation kits are quick to learn and simple to use. They’re designed to be easy so you get results the very first time you spray. Thorough Instructions, 24/7 Product Support, and videos make it easy to install.

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My other question was gonna be this. We ripped all the drywall out after Hurricane Harvey and we found some latent termite damage from some time back. One of the common studs in one corner is pretty well eaten to shreds. I was gonna brace it but then I read about more modern framing practices and I read how each stud is a thermal bridge. So now I'm thinking that I won't bother with it because the house hasn't fallen down and the foam might help a little. Unless you say to brace the stud. Then I'll do it, Martin! :)
Amanda previously has worked as a breaking news and crime reporter, TV news producer, and editor in Flint and Detroit. Throughout her career as a journalist, she has won several awards from the Detroit Chapter of Society of Professional Journalists and the Michigan Press Association. As part of the RetroFoam of Michigan family, Amanda uses her experience as a journalist to write content that will help educate homeowners on the benefits of foam insulation. When Amanda isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and rescued huskies. She also loves knitting, making art, cooking, and hosting dinner and a movie night for friends and family.
For 2×4 stud walls, the fiberglass insulation will have to be split to fit. In this case, we sprayed just under 2 in. of foam (R-10.8), and split 3-1/2-in. R-13 batts in half (R-6.5) to achieve an R-17.3 insulation value. Never cram oversize batts into a wall cavity because fiberglass insulation loses R-value when it’s compressed. You could save money by spraying 1 in. of foam and adding more fiberglass, but don’t spray less than 1 in.—the foam will no longer serve as an air barrier. This particular foam creates its own vapor barrier if sprayed 2 in. thick.
Ames® Roof Coatings are premium elastomeric coatings that seal out moisture, renew old surfaces and even save energy. We have products specifically formulated for all types of roofs including; Wood, Tar, Metal, Rolled Roofing, EPDM Rubber, Foam and many other surfaces. Ames’ coatings form a waterproof seal to preserve and protect your roof. Our white roof coatings reflect sunlight, substantially reducing roof temperatures. Ames® products are environmentally friendly, waterbase, non-toxic, VOC-free and water cleanup.
Roof coatings are easy to install. Smaller roofs in good, serviceable condition can be a weekend do-it-yourself (DIY) project. Larger roofs with leaks and ponding water issues should be coated by a qualified professional. Additional roof coating products, such as foam or coatings designed for seams, may be required underneath the main coating layers. Supplement coating products are used to reinforce damaged or leak-prone problem areas.[3] https://m.youtube.com/e/ggLAUsiuI_o
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