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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.) 

how much for spray foam insulation in attic


Global warming potential (GWP), as defined by the EPA, is a measure of how much energy the emissions of 1 ton of a gas will absorb over a given period of time, relative to the emissions of 1 ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).  Spray foam insulation products that use water as the blowing agent - typically open-cell foam however Icynene’s ProSeal Eco is a 100 percent water blown closed-cell spray foam – have a global warming potential of 1, the lowest possible number.  This is because water in the mixture reacts during the application process to release carbon dioxide and heat. The GWP of the blowing agent is that of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has a GWP of 1.

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Spray polyurethan foam does effectly prevent all six of these heat transfer methods from occurring. These should be the mechanisms by which you judge insulation, in addition to their R-Value. If you're uncertain about installing spray foam insulation, Energy Star has a map that recommends levels of insulation by R-value and cost-effectiveness in the United States. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o&app=mobile

Spray foam insulation, when properly installed is both an air barrier and when closed cell foam is used at the proper depth a vapor barrier!  Before hiring any contractor you should establish the brand of foam being used and verify that with the named manufacture.  Please ask for ESR reports and MSDS sheets on any foam being installed in your home. A couple areas where you might consider spray foam insulation include:


In the early days of insulating attics, people believed the insulation was a heat source. That’s not the case, as the insulation is actually a barrier between two areas of different temperatures. As for the “hot roof” theory, the unvented attic system could make the temperature of the roof go up a little, but this increase won’t cause damage to your shingles.

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Spray foam insulation is a great product. Homes insulated with it can be some of the most efficient and comfortable homes built. I've been in plenty of these homes and can tell you that when spray foam is installed properly, they outperform 99% of fiberglass batt-insulated, stick-built homes. (I can also tell you that 73% of all statistics are made up on the spot, so please don't ask for documentation of that statistic.) http://youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=ggLAUsiuI_o
Spray foam insulation comes with many benefits over traditional fiberglass or cellulose products. When used throughout the walls and attic, spray foam insulation can save huge percentages off your structure’s heating and cooling costs. This remarkable product accomplishes this through its airtight nature. Spray foam insulation creates a complete seal between your home and the outside.

In general, cantilevered steel beams are a nightmare. If part of the steel beam is in contact with exterior temperatures, then it's best if the interior portion of the steel beam is covered on all sides with insulation. This is generally impossible (because the interior portion of the cantilevered beam generally supports a load, meaning that you can't wrap the steel beam in insulation on all sides).


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.  https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ggLAUsiuI_o

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Small imperfections in the building envelope (holes, cracks, gaps) not properly sealed will eventually lead to poor building performance or worse, moisture accumulation, allergen/pathogen growth, and very possibly structural failure. The solid nature and sealing capability of closed-cell spray foam, inhibits moisture-driven elements. Two inches of closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulation will minimize air infiltration, exfiltration, convection, conduction and control solar driven moisture in the building envelope.
Spray foam insulation, when properly installed is both an air barrier and when closed cell foam is used at the proper depth a vapor barrier!  Before hiring any contractor you should establish the brand of foam being used and verify that with the named manufacture.  Please ask for ESR reports and MSDS sheets on any foam being installed in your home. A couple areas where you might consider spray foam insulation include:

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. 
Thank you, Allison. We have a split system unit (actually 5) with the heat being propane. The foam guy said that it needed ventilation, so completely sealing the attic wouldn't be a good idea. It sounds like you are saying that the systems need to be vented out of the attic or replaced with some type of closed system. But I shouldn't bother spraying if the plan is to leave the soffet vents open. Is that correct?
You probably have some familiarity with spray foam insulation, and you may have even used the foam that comes in pressured spray cans at home improvement retailers. This foam is know as one-part foam, meaning that it is one continuous mixture that is simply applied to the area in need. One-part foam is frequently used for sealing small gaps and cracks. http://m.youtube.com/embed/ggLAUsiuI_o
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.
One of the key differentiators between traditional insulation materials and spray foam insulation is the latter’s ability to insulate and air seal. Foam insulation provides an air barrier to wherever it is applied to help mitigate air leakage from the building. Air sealing the building envelope with sprayed-in foam insulation also helps address moisture ingress to reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth as well as the formation of ice dams in colder climate zones during the winter months.  When you compare foam insulation with traditional fiberglass insulation and cellulose insulation, sprayed insulation minimizes air infiltration, it assists in limiting moisture vapor from entering and escaping the home, which in turn reduces the load on heating and cooling systems. Below is a video that compares fiberglass, cellulose and open-cell spray foam in terms of insulating and air sealing value. 

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The local foam installer that I used here in Hilton Head told me he looked for some peeling back of the foam. This was ensuring that it was at the perfect temperature which helped them maximize their yield (profit). I have open cell foam and it pulled away a little, and did so immediately (within minutes). They went back after they were done to any spots that pulled away too much and filled them with the touch up kit; they were looking for the top edge to roll just a little bit.  https://youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ggLAUsiuI_o
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how much is attic spray foam


Yes, you're right that all of the problems mentioned above are related to the installer. I didn't try to hide that and even used the word 'installer' in two of the four headings. I can see how you'd think that the title is misleading, but in the end you can't separate spray foam insulation from its installation. Some people have the mistaken impression that if you get spray foam in your house, your home will outperform all others. My point here is that that's not true.
There are several types of reflective roof coatings that impart varied reflectance rates/ values. Typically, the reflective coatings are what are commonly referred to as white coatings and there are also aluminum coatings typically used with asphalt. Highly reflective white roof coatings are typically comprised of acrylics, urethanes, silicones, SBS, SEBS, and other types. https://youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o?version=3
Unlike fiberglass, cellulose or other loose fill products, our Foamsulate products can be applied with precision almost anywhere, expanding to completely fill gaps and spaces with a long-lasting solid. No matter how irregular the shape, how rough the surface or how hidden the area, Foamsulate products create an exact fit and an effective, high-quality air barrier that lasts. Foamsulate™ can be used wherever air can get in:

spray foam attic insulation cost


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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o&app=m
Silicone based coatings can be spray or roller-applied, and should utilize a medium-nap roller when rolled. These coatings are applied anywhere from 2 to 3.5 gallons per 100 square feet, depending on the substrate. Silicone has two major advantages over the other four types of coatings that should be considered when searching for the best roof coating: 1) it can resist ponding water for extended periods of time and 2) it can adhere to most substrates without a primer. Because of these two major advantages, silicone is the best roof coating that satisfies both quality and cost-effectiveness.
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.

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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.
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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o&feature=youtube_gdata
Get the Power to Seal & Insulate Perfectly in Just 5 Minutes. The Foam it Green Promise: 1>Simpler, Easier, Faster Spray Foam 2>No Special Skills or Know How 3>Professional Results or Better Saves You Time, Money and Hassles. Delivers to your door, ready to use. Just follow the simple instructions. Saves Energy with High R-value Closed Cell Foam. R-Value of 7 in Just 1 Inch. Provides a seamless air barrier in 1 step. This Kit Provides Approx. 602 Square Feet at 1” thickness of cured foam. Class I E-84 Fire-Retardant Foam that meets building code specs. This Anti-Microbial Formula passed the stringent ASTM G-21 test for preventing mold growth on the surface of the foam. Includes everything you need to complete your project. Weighs 120 lbs, including steel canisters pressured with nitrogen. Orders with multiple kits on it may ship via LTL instead of UPS. The LTL carrier calls to arrange a convenient delivery time. Usually Ships Same Business Day. See Manufacturer for returns and warranty policy. https://www.youtube.com/e/ggLAUsiuI_o?app=desktop
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.

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Unlike fiberglass, cellulose or other loose fill products, our Foamsulate products can be applied with precision almost anywhere, expanding to completely fill gaps and spaces with a long-lasting solid. No matter how irregular the shape, how rough the surface or how hidden the area, Foamsulate products create an exact fit and an effective, high-quality air barrier that lasts. Foamsulate™ can be used wherever air can get in:

spray foam attic insulation cost


If your foam pulled away just a little bit, Jamie, and they were able to fix it with just a little bit of touching up, then it wasn't as bad as the house where I saw this problem. As the last photo above shows, it had pulled away significantly from the studs and rafters, and it was all over the house. This was closed cell foam, and interestingly, it didn't pull away from the horizontal framing members, just the vertical and sloped ones. They did some touch up, but that wasn't enough. I don't know how this one ended up getting resolved. I think maybe the contractor came back and sprayed cellulose on top of the foam.

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Before filling the wall cavity, spray the perimeter with a 1/2-in. layer, which will expand to a 1-in. layer. These layers are called “lifts.” This will ensure that the foam penetrates any voids where the studs meet the sheathing. This also reduces the risk of bulges in the sheathing. If foam is sprayed into a large gap between the stud and the sheathing and is immediately covered by a thick layer, the pressure of the expanding foam can actually push out any sheathing that isn’t securely fastened. Wait a few minutes after picture-framing the cavity before you go back and lay down the first layer in the center of the wall.
Yes, you're right that all of the problems mentioned above are related to the installer. I didn't try to hide that and even used the word 'installer' in two of the four headings. I can see how you'd think that the title is misleading, but in the end you can't separate spray foam insulation from its installation. Some people have the mistaken impression that if you get spray foam in your house, your home will outperform all others. My point here is that that's not true. http://www.youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o?version=3
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