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Spray Foam Insulation for Homes & Commercial Buildings
Spray foam insulation, also known as spray polyurethane foam, is without a doubt one of the most effective ways to insulate your home or business space. Spray foam can effectively manage the temperature and air inside your building, as well as help you save energy. Another benefit is that it will boost the resale value of your home. Here’s more on the different uses of foam insulation.
What is Open Cell Spray Foam?
Open cell spray foam insulation is spray foam that is applied as a low density thermal insulation on walls & ceilings. Spray foam is one of the most common types of insulation and air sealing material that is applied in different home locations which require thermal insulation. Open cell spray foam insulation has an open cell structure which does not allow air leakage. It is soft in nature due to the open cells in the spray foam which is why moisture build up is quite possible. This spray foam technique is less costly as compared to closed-cell spray foam insulation and expands more when applied to a surface. It creates a tight building envelope which ensures you get the best energy flow and an improved energy efficiency
Spray foam insulation is made by reacting isocyanate and polyol resin. When the spray foam is applied to the desired site, it expands on contact with any surface to create a foam that seals away gaps and holes creating the perfect air, moisture, and vapor barrier. Open cell spray foam can be used to seal any kind of cavities in walls, windows, attics, small gaps, and cracks present in structures.
CLOSED CELL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
What is Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation (High Density)?
Closed cell foam also known as the two-pound foam is one of the most energy-efficient, structurally sound, and effective insulation options characterized by a high thermal value. High-density spray foam is used for its high R-value and greater strength. As the name suggests, it is made up of completely closed components that provide a high-density cellular composition. The density of the closely packed cells ensures a high standard of insulation as compared to other traditional insulation options. The closely pressed together cells also prevent air or moisture to penetrate inside the foam hence offering a rigid and stable structure.
Around 40% of a building’s energy is wasted on average due to infiltration of air through gaps and air leaks. This wastage can be prevented by using proper insulation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated around 20% of your monthly energy bills can be saved by using insulation and sealing the gaps and air leaks.
The durability and robust nature of closed-cell spray foam insulation make it perfect for both residential and commercial uses. It can be applied to a multitude of areas and surfaces like metal buildings, commercial areas like offices, basement and crawl spaces, attics, pole barns, etc. It is frequently applied for roofing applications, on floors and walls of existing houses, and can also be applied to exterior areas. It can be sprayed directly on concrete, metal, stone, or solid block surfaces.
What are the major benefits of Closed Cell Spray Foam insulation?
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Closed cell spray foam has a cellular composition which makes it an ideal choice for residential as well as commercial applications. Compared to open cell insulation, it doesn’t expand a lot but still reaches the nooks and crannies of the area where it is applied. The cellular structure of closed cell spray foam enables it to resist the passage of water or moisture through it, making it a practical solution for moist and damp conditions such as flood risk areas. In addition to that, it has a high thermal value per cm as compared to other types of insulation materials providing excellent temperature regulation. The high foam density, while expanding, creates a barrier to stop air passage blocking out dust and toxins while also preventing mold growth resulting in the improved air quality of your property. Since closed cell spray foam has a comparatively rigid structure, it helps improve the overall integrity of your building far better than what the other insulation materials can offer.
How Does Foam Insulation Strengthen Your Home?
The main component which gives structure to your home is the walls. In wood frame construction, the weight of the roof, shingles, Standing rain water, the weight of the roof, snow, and shingles all add weight to the roof on wood construction, which results in a compressive force to the walls from exerting downward forces. Imposing lateral forces on the walls of the homes are created from gusts and high winds from storms.
A “shearing force” can be generated by the lateral forces that distort the walls. To be able to withstand these forces and loads, a home’s walls are required by building codes to be designed in a certain way. Walls are nevertheless sometimes built to the minimum standards, so sounds of creaking and shaking that are created through movement or during high winds can often be heard.
To reinforce both the studs and the exterior sheathing inside the walls, higher density closed-cell spray foam is recommended, for it adheres fully to both. There will be less wall movement due to vibration, wind, and occupant activity with the added rigidity that closed-cell spray foam provides. “Racking events” such as hurricanes or high wind situations can also be avoided with closed-cell SPF because your walls will have greater resistance than what is required by building code. Adding structural strength to the building is another benefit of an SPF application. SPF filled walls could add from 75 to 200 percent racking strength to walls of vinyl siding, gypsum board, light gauge metal, or OSB plywood, as NAHB Research has demonstrated.
A wall can change from its original rectangle shape into a parallelogram due to shearing forces. Engineers tend to use a “racking test” in order to test a wall’s resistance to the shear forces imposed by wind loading. In order to do so, a model wall that is 8 ft. x 8ft. is placed in a large frame after being constructed. Then, a horizontal (lateral) force is applied at one upper corner of the wall while the base remains secured to the frame. The force is increased until the wall structure fails, with constant 400 lb. increments added throughout the test.
The Added Strength Effect of Spray Foam on the Wall
Walls with spray-applied polyurethane foam insulation and without were compared in a series of racking tests. These racking tests evaluated two exterior facing materials:
Plywood textured siding
15-lb. building paper with vinyl siding on top of it.
The interior side of all the wall panels used 16-inch stud spacing and it was faced with half-inch sheetrock The stud cavities of the wall panels that were insulated with spray-applied polyurethane foam were filled with 1.5 lb/ft^3 foam density.
The stud walls that were filled with spray-applied polyurethane foam add significant strength to the home walls, as the graph indicates. The foam filled walls also deformed less with each load that was applied, and, additionally, the walls offered greater resilience.
Spray-applied polyurethane foam insulation was compared with conventional R-19 fiberglass batts during a second series of racking tests. The wall panels were faced with drywall on both sides during one comparison, and the wall panels were faced with drywall on one side and OSB (oriented strand board) on the opposite side during another. The average foam density used was 2.26 lb/ft3 and the wall panel used steel studs spaced 24 inches on center in both situations.
The graph indicates once again that the spray foam insulated wall system had greater strength.
Test results are reported in “Testing and Adoption of Spray Polyurethane Foam for Wood Frame Building Construction” (May 25, 1992) prepared by NAHB Research Center for The Society of the Plastics Industry/Polyurethane Foam Contractors Division.
Test results are reported in a letter from Bob Dewey, Mechanical Engineer, NAHB Research Center to Mason Knowles, The Society of the Plastics Industry/Spray Polyurethane Foam Division (November 18, 1996).