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polyurethane foam spray

 Why Select Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Insulation?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation helps keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Because it is sprayed directly into the gaps, cracks and other surfaces that contribute to heat loss, it both insulates and air seals, offering one of the easiest and most effective ways of weatherizing existing homes and new construction. When installed following proper safety and handling guidelines, spray polyurethane foam can help...

Help save on energy bills*

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates (for all insulation) that homeowners who air seal and insulate their homes can save up to 20% of heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% total energy costs). (Source: Energy Star)
  • SPF resists heat transfer better than many other insulation materials, with R-values typically in the range of 3.5 - 6.5 per one inch of thickness. R-value is a term used to rate an insulation's ability to resist conductive heat transfer. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation's ability is to reduce conductive heat flow.
  • Because SPF insulation minimizes air infiltration, it assists in preventing moisture vapor from entering and escaping the home, which in turn reduces the load on heating and cooling systems.

*Savings vary. Find out why in the seller's fact sheet on R-values. Higher R-values mean greater insulating power.

Reduce heating and air conditioning size

  • HVAC sizing can be reduced as much as 35% without the loss of efficiency and comfort. (Source: Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association)

Reduce drafts, noise and increase comfort

  • SPF is an effective air barrier.
  • SPF is commonly used to prevent drafts from windows, doors, attics and floor boards creating a more comfortable indoor environment.
  • SPF helps minimize air-borne sound transmission.

Impede entry of insects and pests

  • Sealing gaps with SPF from the outside provides a barrier against insects and other pests.

Minimize air infiltration that can generate condensation and result in mold growth

  • Moisture and humidity inside the home can lead to mold growth. Gaps and cracks in the building structure and condensation on windows can keep the humidity high and support mold and mildew growth. Left unchecked, mold and mildew can cause wood to rot. Air sealing the gaps between the attic and living space can help manage moisture and humidity issues.

Seal small cracks to insulate large areas, such as walls and roofs

  • Because SPF is spray-applied on site, it can more easily insulate and seal the small cracks common in homes. The application also makes expansive surfaces - like walls, attics and roofs - easy to cover in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Depending on the application, different types of SPF may be used. (See "Types of SPF insulation and how it's applied")

Resist settling due to its general stability

  • Typically not subjected to structural deterioration/decomposition and resists settling.

Qualify for utility rebates, tax credits and green certification

  • The energy savings obtained by air sealing homes is significant enough that the purchase and use of SPF products may qualify for tax credits under the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allows for a tax credit of 30% on the purchase of energy efficient products, up to a maximum of $1,500 per year in 2010. Check with the manufacturer for confirmation that the specific SPF product qualifies for the tax credit and for further information and instructions on filing for the credit.
  • Many local utility companies offer rebates for energy efficiency upgrades. Check with your utility provider for eligibility.
  • To learn more about federal tax credits for energy efficiency, you can visit the ENERGY STAR web site on Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency.
  • For new construction or major remodel projects, the use of SPF may help earn energy-efficiency credits under residential green certification programs.

 Types of Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Insulation and How It's Applied

SPF insulation can be categorized into two types of products:

  • Two-component open-cell foam (ocSPF)
  • Two-component closed-cell foam (ccSPF)

Spray polyurethane foam insulation is applied using two main delivery systems: low pressure spray foam kits/systems and high pressure systems using large drums for open or closed-cell foam.

Spray polyurethane foam kits, refill tanks: For mid-size projects, there are low pressure (typically less than 250 psi or pounds per square inch) two-component kits. These two-component kits can be used to insulate and seal small to mid-size areas around the home, such as attics, crawl spaces, and rim joists. These kits are primarily used by weatherization professionals and spray polyurethane foam contractors. These products require the use of specialized personal protective equipment (for example, high pressure foam is installed with a respirator as noted below).

SPF high pressure systems: Two-component, high pressure systems (typically 800-1600 psi) use 55-gallon drums and are more often used when insulating larger areas on new construction or major renovations on walls and roofs. These products are intended for professional use. These products require special training and the use of specialized personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators.

For a typical high pressure SPF application, a spray rig (truck) which houses the SPF ingredients, air supply and other items is parked near the home or building to be sprayed. Hoses (up to about 300 ft. in length) are carried to the application area and installers wearing proper protective equipment spray the foam.

 How Does Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Insulation Work?

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is made by mixing and reacting chemicals to create a foam. The mixing and reacting materials react very quickly, expanding on contact to create foam that insulates, air seals and provides a moisture barrier. SPF insulation is known to resist heat transfer extremely well, and it offers a highly effective solution in reducing unwanted air infiltration through cracks, seams, and joints. There are different types of SPF. Here, we will discuss the types typically installed by professionals, which are either a high pressure foam and/or a low pressure foam.

Whether retro-fitting a home or choosing insulation when building a new one, homeowners are learning that spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation is a great way to save on energy costs and improve comfort. It is a spray-applied cellular plastic that forms a continuous barrier on walls, around corners and on all contoured surfaces. SPF insulation applied by professionals is generally described as a high pressure foam or a low pressure foam and is available as "open-cell" or "closed-cell" foam. There are several major differences between the two types, leading to advantages and disadvantages for both, depending on the desired application requirements. It is important to discuss with your contractor which type of SPF insulation may be best suited to your application. A side by side comparison highlights some of the typical differences between closed-cell and open-cell foam.

How is it made?

Two liquids combine during a chemical reaction to form spray polyurethane foam. The two liquids come in different drums or containers, and professionals generally refer to one container as the "A" side and the other container as the "B" side. The "A" side of a spray polyurethane system is commonly comprised of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (pMDI). The "B" side is typically a blend of polyols, catalysts, blowing agent, flame retardant, and surfactant. The polyols are part of the chemical reaction to make foam. The remaining ingredients in the "B" side serve different purposes to help control the creation of the foam bubbles (the "cells") in an optimal way, and to provide the various characteristics of the finished foam product (flame retardancy, for example).

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are available for both "A" and "B" side chemicals. Your contractor can provide these to you or discuss these with you.

During the SPF installation:

After the chemicals are mixed and reacted, the foam hardens very rapidly. When the reaction is fully complete depends on the type of SPF insulation and other variables. Your contractor can give you guidance about when you can reenter your home after an interior, two-component foam insulation application.

Your contractor will apply interior, two-component foam using specific personal protective equipment (high pressure foam is installed with a respirator, for example). This equipment, coupled with certain work practices and engineering practices including ventilation, are used to minimize exposures to the chemicals used to make SPF during the job. As a homeowner, you can minimize or eliminate exposure to the chemicals used to create spray foam by carefully following your contractor's guidance about how long to leave the home during the installation, job completion, and cleanup.

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