Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation – Advantages for Certain Types of Construction

I’ve been impressed at several recent installations of closed cell SPF foam insulation for residential construction.

During one recent installation our client needed to insulate a basement wall. Their objective was to avoid moisture problems and mold, therefore we recommended that they choose their insulation materials carefully. The majority of homeowners in the past have insulated their interior foundation walls utilizing fiberglass bats. Many times it’s because of cost considerations. Fiberglass insulation is relatively inexpensive, however, when fiberglass bats come in contact with concrete it can lead to moisture problems with the air condensing against the colder concrete, which can potentially result in mold growth and potential rotting of the 2×4’s, especially the plates. Many installers try to leave at least a 1 inch air space between the 2×4 and the concrete, which is the preferred method for construction, however, if you’re thinking long-term, I feel that fiberglass bats belong on the second and third floor and not against the basement walls.

11-11-13-featuredA great solution…insulate the concrete basement walls with closed cell spray foam insulation. The first step would be to look for any existing cracks or any moisture or condensation and take care of that problem first with Waterplug, Thoroseal, or other water sealing products, and make sure the integrity of exterior drains, gutters, and drainage away from the house is in place.

Next frame the interior of the walls with 2x4s approximately 1 inch away from the concrete wall.

Next contract with a professional spray foam contractor who has considerable experience in these types of installations. It’s important to pick a well-educated professional who is completely familiar with the new products being offered in today’s market, and understand the correct way to install the product.

DSC_7120Ask the contractor to spray in approximately 3 inches of closed cell foam between the 2×4 studs and feather it into the concrete wall. This will leave a dead air space between the foam insulation and the sheetrock which will be installed over the 2x4s for finish.

The end result…an installation with lots of integrity done the right way.

Closed cell foam is by far the best product to use for these types of installations for the following reasons:

    • Closed cell spray foam provides a higher R-value per inch than less expensive insulation.
    • Closed cell spray foam is a vapor retarder and helps stop air transfer and moisture from spreading. Moisture management is critical and closed cell spray foam is classified as an acceptable “flood-resistant material” by FEMA.
    • Closed cell spray foam adds to the structural integrity of the supporting members. It creates additional racking strength to walls and joists, and has strong adhesion compared to other forms of insulation. The product literally reinforces the strength of the object it’s sprayed onto.
    • Closed cell spray foam will eliminate the majority of air leakage. This is an important consideration to help with moisture problems, insect and rodent penetration, and noise from the exterior. Stopping air leakage will reduce a home’s annual heating and cooling costs.
    • Closed cell spray foam will reduce noise and sound vibrations. This product definitely helps minimize sound infiltration through walls.
    •  Closed cell spray foam will help improve indoor air quality by eliminating considerably mold and mildew growth, condensation, and dust.

DSC_7107

    Closed cell spray foam is much easier to use when insulating around the joists where they connect with sills. Thermal bridging is a significant cause of energy loss with gaps like you see in conventional insulation. Spray foam creates a tight seal that literally encapsulates the adjoining materials for complete coverage. Gaps and voids are commonly seen when fiberglass insulation is used. Essentially the product results in a much higher R-value than fiberglass insulation, which translates into lower energy bills.

During a recent installation for a property we sold we hired Marksprayfoam LLC out of Meredith, NH. Mark Perrault and his wife DSC_7133Tammy are a husband and wife team that specializes in closed cell spray foam throughout central NH. They reach down into Massachusetts and the Seacoast as well. They have been in business for 5 years, however, Mark has been specializing in insulating properties since 1992—that’s plenty of experience! He initially got started, like all contractors, installing fiberglass bats, and then got intrigued with spray foam insulation in 2003. You could say he and his wife specialize in crawlspaces, older antique homes, basement finishes, and custom jobs as well. All of their materials come from a spray foam distributor out of Woodstock, NH. I found them quick and responsive. They were out the next day installing the product, and got the job done on time and cleaned up the entire site…a very professional installation. I’ve got to say, the consumer was extremely happy with the installation. A nice clean looking job, air tight, and most importantly, provided the consumer with a feeling of security in terms of future moisture penetration. Their foundation walls were constructed completely with concrete cinderblocks in the 1960’s. The addition of the foam added structural integrity to the cinderblock construction from the inside and helped act as a vapor barrier from future condensation problems in order to eliminate any possible mold growth.

Marksprayfoam LLC can be reached at (603) 677-2497, or at mark@marksprayfoam.com.
Marksprayfoam LLC can be reached at (603) 677-2497 or at mark@marksprayfoam.com

Marksprayfoam LLC can be reached at (603) 677-2497, or at mark@marksprayfoam.com.

For many older properties out there, antique homes with stone foundations, etc. closed cell spray foam is an ideal application to install under the floor joists and crawlspaces because it completely encapsulates the wood and helps insulate the source of where you want the heat. It’s also a great deterrent for rodents. If preferred, you can insulate the stone walls or makeshift foundation walls with the foam instead of insulating under the floors. Pay special attention to the vapor barriers that you create so that it is not overdone. You still have to allow the crawlspace to breathe. Additionally, if you were to install fiberglass bats in older antique homes with dirt crawlspaces it often leads to considerable mold growth because of the moisture and condensation and differential between a damp dirt floor and the space heated above. It also provides a warm space for mice and rodents to crawl up into during the winter months and create an absolute mess. Close cell spray foam insulation appears to be an excellent alternative compared to previous conventional methods of insulation.

Post written by Frank Roche, President, Roche Realty Group, Inc.

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6 thoughts on “Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation – Advantages for Certain Types of Construction”

  1. My wife and I recently moved into our home and our basement is unfinished (and freezing!). We are going to finish it, but we first need to deal with the insulation problem. I like your suggestion to use spray foam insulation in the basement to avoid any moisture issues. How long does it take to install this type of insulation? Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Hi Nathan! I apologize it took so long to reply to your inquiry about spray foam insulation – I just came across your comment today. When I had spray foam insulation installed in my own home a few years back, it literally only took a day for the actual installation. I had half my lower level done, about 600 sqft., plus the utility closet. I made certain that my pets were not in the house during the installation. You might want to book a stay elsewhere for 24 hours while they install the insulation, as I recall a mild fume the night after the installation. (I tend to be sensitive to any chemical smells…) the fume was gone within days and I am incredibly happy with the results, even several years later. My basement was SUPER drafty before the installation (I don’t have central heat and only run monitor downstairs). The last two winters were noticeably less drafty and more efficient. In my opinion, it was a solid investment!

      Reply
  2. First, and foremost, in can lower your utility bills.
    The reason being it prevents moisture and air infiltration. Studies show that without
    correct heat retaining material, a property can get rid of as much as forty percent of the
    total power on account of oxygen infiltration.

    It brings extra strength towards the framework in the constructing.

    – Fiberglass still permits atmosphere to pass by way of, defeating
    the objective of its installation to begin with

    – Because they are made of a combination of old materials, they may not meet changing building codes in your area.

    – Although spray foam insulation remains in place and is also fiberglass, cellulose and permanent can sag
    over time, shrinking its overall performance.

    Reply
  3. Closed cell foam huh? We’re currently working on the insulation of our home and we might take your word for it. It’s also recommended by our friend who also had it installed in their home and is really happy about it.

    Reply
    • Hi Marilyn! Thanks for commenting on the article about Spray Foam insulation. I had this installed in my own home about two years ago and it made a huge difference. My lower level is noticeably less drafty in the winter time since applying the insulation. It also eliminated the issue we had with mice that had been nesting in the old insulation. My husband and I hired Mark Spray Foam to do the job and were very pleased with the results. (Those pictures in the article are actually of our basement during the Spray Foam installation.) Mark’s contact is in that article if you need a recommendation. I found them to be very professional. – Heather West, Roche Realty Group Inc.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for bringing to my attention that closed cell spray foam insulation is more efficient than other types. My husband and I have decided that we want to make our home more energy efficient, and we’d like to start that process by having insulation put in. Maybe we could invest a little more to have spray foam installed to get a higher R-value.

    Reply

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