Before we go into the details about foam insulation pros and cons we have understand there are many types of foam insulation and the advantages and disadvantages of each vary.
The types of foam insulation are spray foam insulation and rigid foam insulation.
Spray Foam Insulation:
Spray foam insulation is mainly used to spray large surfaces with fast-rise foam that expands and fills all the gaps, hole and crevices. It expands and seals off the surface of the wall thus preventing air movement and heat transfer. Another variant of the spray foam insulation is the slow-rise foam that is used to insulate wall cavities, spaces above the roof, attic and other hidden and hard to see/reach places in a building.
Holes are made in the wall and machine is used to pump the spray into the gaps using the hose. The slow-rise foam expands under low-pressure to seal of the wall. Closed cell foam is better than open-cell foam. There are do it yourself (diy) kits to help homeowners do the insulation job themselves
Let’s take a look at spray foam insulation pros and cons:
Spray Foam Insulation Advantages:
- – Walls don’t need to be dismantled unlike in fiberglass batts. Drilling two small holes at the top and bottom of the wall is enough to spray the foam through.
- – It stops airflow and cuts of leaks and gaps in the walls.
- – The foam insulation acts as vapor barrier. It also, reduces moisture build up and prevents growth of mold and meldew
- – It strengthens the walls and seals of any leaks etc.
- – Where there is very little gap or space for insulation spray foam insulation works well
- – Another advantage is acts as sound barrier.
- – As it expands it fills in between bypasses, joists and rafters which other insulation like loose-fill can’t do.
- – R-value reduces a little as stability is reached with the environment. Even this reduced R-value is much higher than other traditional insulation materials.
- – No danger of dry wall being blow-off as the foam expands under low-pressure.
Spray Foam Insulation Disadvantages:
- – Requires warm tank (65 degree F – 75 degree F) temperature to give maximum yield of insulating material
- – It needs a drywall protection or a thermal barrier
- – The cost is high compared to fiberglass batts and cellulose
- – If it catches fire, it releases toxic fumes, which can be harmful.
- – Hydrocholorflurocarbons are used as blowing agents, which is harmful to environment.
- – Protective masks, eyewear and clothing are needed while spraying
Rigid Foam Insulation:
Structural insulation panels or rigid foam insulation is actually a core of insulation material backed by two skins of half inch OSB. The skins can be plywood or metal too depending on its end use. The core insulation is made of either polyurethane, expanded polystyrene or Polyisocyanurate. The thickness of the panel determines the r-value.
Let’s take a look at the rigid foam insulation pros and cons:
Rigid Foam Insulation Advantages:
- 1. Gives structural strength to the building and is used instead of the standard wooden frames. It’s 3 times stronger than traditional stud frames
- 2. Prefabricated panels come with required provisions for doors, windows and electricals. So, lot of time is saved in building homes
- 3. Can be used for building walls, ceilings, floorings.
- 4. Effectively insulates the home against airflow and heat-transfer.
- 5. Has the highest energy efficiencies, saves up to 50 percent of energy usage for heating and cooling
- 6. Is moisture resistant, heat resistant, pest resistant.
- 7. Acts as a sound barrier.
- 8. Saves time in construction, money in labor costs and energy savings, labor in reduced time needed to build homes, installation of insulation etc.
Rigid Foam Insulation Disadvantages:
Expensive when compared to other insulating materials like fiberglass batts, cellulose, cotton batts etc.
We have discussed foam insulation pros and cons for rigid foam and spray foam. Depending on our needs we can choose the option that is most advantageous and least harmful for our purpose.