If you’re thinking about upgrading your home’s insulation, you may be looking into spray foam. Touted as the superior choice to traditional fiberglass insulation, there are many advantages to using spray foam, including in some cases, waterproofing.
When considering spray foam insulation, you’ll be faced with the choice of either getting open cell or closed cell foam. There is a significant difference in price and structural makeup. When choosing a type of foam, it’s important to look at what you plan to use it for and decide whether a weaker foam is worth the cost savings.
Open Cell Foam
The two are quite different in more ways than just the physical makeup of the foam. In open cell foam, the small cells that make up the foam are not completely closed. This lets air get into the tiny pockets in the foam, making it weaker and less water resistant.
Open cell foam is also less dense. It usually weighs between 0.4 and 0.5 pounds per cubic foot. Lighter foam is less strong, but better suited for delicate applications where the weight of the foam could pose a structural hazard.
Closed Cell Foam
Like open cell foam, closed cell foam is also made up of tiny cells. However, those cells are closed and packed tightly together. During the manufacturing process, the cells are filled with gas, not air with helps the foam expand and fill every crack. As a bonus, the expanded foam also works as a complete waterproof insulator.
Closed cell foam typically has a density of 1.7 to 2 pounds per cubic foot. Roofing foam can have an even greater density to support the greater load of the roof. The higher the density of the foam, the stronger it is.
The greater density of closed cell foam also lends better structural integrity to the product. The foam not only seals air leaks and prevents water infiltration, it also provides a level of support for surrounding structures to reinforce boards or walls that are already in place.
When choosing a type of foam insulation for your next project, consider whether or not you need a waterproof material. If you do, make sure you choose a closed cell foam for the greatest level of protection. Closed cell foam can be used in walls, roofs, floors and anywhere that moisture resistance and strength are a consideration.
There are some applications in which you simply cannot use open cell foams. Be sure to contact a professional spray foam insulation company before deciding which application will be the most effective. If you need help selecting an insulation, consult a contractor or insulation installer. They can help you decide whether you need open or closed cell insulation and what density is right for your project.