Advantages of Spray Foam Insulation in New Homes - featured image

Updated 12/15/2023

Are you building a new home and considering which insulation to use? With so many new home insulation options, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. However, one type of insulation that is gaining popularity is spray foam insulation.

Let’s take a look at why using spray foam insulation in new homes has become one of our most popular options here at Lakeshore Custom Homes!

Traditionally, fiberglass batts or blown-in cellulose have been the go-to insulation choices for homes. However, spray foam insulation offers many advantages that make it an attractive option for new home construction.

Spray foam insulation can provide superior insulation, air sealing, and moisture control, and reduced energy consumption compared to traditional insulation methods.

What is Spray Foam Insulation?

Spray foam insulation is a two-component material that expands and hardens upon application, creating an insulating and air-sealing barrier. This foam sticks to surfaces, fills gaps and provides a barrier that prevents air leakage and helps keep heat inside during cold weather and outside during hot weather, making the building more energy efficient.

Two spray foam insulation types exist:

  1. Open-cell spray foam: This type of foam has a lower density and expands more upon application. The resulting foam structure has interconnected cells, which allows for some air and moisture permeability. Open-cell spray foam has a lower R-value per inch (typically around 3.5 to 4 per inch) than closed-cell foam, but it can still provide adequate insulation and soundproofing. It is generally more affordable than closed-cell foam.
  2. Closed-cell spray foam: With a higher density and more compact cell structure, closed-cell foam forms a rigid, impermeable barrier that resists moisture and air infiltration. In addition, it has a higher R-value per inch (typically around 6 to 7 per inch), making it a more effective insulator. The closed-cell foam adds structural strength to the building and is more water damage-resistant. However, closed-cell spray foam is usually more expensive than open-cell foam.

Spray foam insulation is applied using specialized equipment that mixes and sprays the two liquid components onto the surface to be insulated, such as walls, ceilings, or floors. The foam expands to fill gaps, cracks, and crevices, conforming to the shape of the cavity and forming a continuous, airtight insulation layer.

 What Are the Benefits of Spray Foam Insulation?

Using foam insulation when building a house in Northern Michigan offers several advantages due to the region’s cold climate and unique environmental conditions. Some of the main benefits include:

  • High R-value: Foam insulation provides a high R-value per inch, which measures the material’s resistance to heat flow. This means better thermal performance, ideal for insulating houses in cold climates.
  • Air sealing: Foam insulation, especially spray foam, can fill wall cavities, gaps and cracks, forming an air barrier. This reduces drafts and air infiltration, increasing the home’s energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Moisture resistance: Closed-cell foam insulation can resist moisture, potentially preventing mold and mildew growth, particularly in areas with high humidity or water exposure.
  • Structural strength: Closed-cell spray foam can add structural strength to walls and roofs, increasing the overall stability and durability of the building.
  • Pest resistance: Foam insulation is less attractive to pests such as rodents and insects than other insulation materials, reducing the likelihood of infestations.
  • Soundproofing: Foam insulation offers better soundproofing than other insulation materials, helping to reduce noise transmission between rooms and from outside the house.
  • Ease of installation: Spray foam insulation can be easily applied to difficult-to-reach areas, such as around electrical outlets, plumbing, and irregularly shaped spaces, ensuring complete coverage and improved insulation performance. This reduces the time and effort needed during the installation process, saving labor costs, and minimizing disruptions to the construction timeline.
  • Longevity and durability: Foam insulation has a long lifespan and maintains its performance characteristics over time, reducing the need for replacement or maintenance.
  • Energy savings and lower energy bills: The enhanced insulation performance of foam materials can lead to significant energy savings, reducing heating and cooling costs for homeowners in Northern Michigan’s cold climate.
  • Environmentally friendly: Some foam insulation products are made from renewable or recycled materials, reducing the environmental impact of the insulation. Additionally, energy savings from using foam insulation contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Overall, using foam insulation when building a house in Northern Michigan can provide numerous benefits regarding energy efficiency, comfort, durability, and environmental impact. These advantages make foam insulation popular for homeowners and builders in cold climates.

 Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between open-cell and closed-cell spray foam insulation?

Open-cell foam has a lower density, lower R-value per inch (around 3.5 to 4) and is more permeable to air and moisture. As a result, it is generally more affordable than closed-cell foam. On the other hand, closed-cell foam has a higher density and R-value per inch (around 6 to 7) and forms a rigid, impermeable barrier that resists moisture and air infiltration. It also adds structural strength to the building.

How much does spray foam insulation cost?

The cost of spray foam insulation is determined by various factors, including the type of material used (open-cell or closed-cell), labor costs, and the size and complexity of the project. On average, open-cell foam costs between $0.35 to $0.55 per board foot, while closed-cell foam costs between $1.00 to $1.50 per board foot.
Please note that pricing is subject to change, and the size and scope of the project can influence the final price.

What is the R-value of spray foam insulation?

The R-value of open-cell spray foam is typically around 3.5 to 4 per inch, while the R-value of closed-cell spray foam is around 6 to 7 per inch. The R-value measures the material’s resistance to heat flow, with higher R-values providing better insulation performance.

Is spray foam insulation safe for my home and the environment?

Spray foam insulation is generally considered safe when installed correctly by professionals. However, it can release chemicals during installation and curing, so proper ventilation and safety precautions are crucial. In addition, some spray foam products are made from renewable or recycled materials, making them more environmentally friendly. In contrast, the energy savings associated with foam insulation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How long does spray foam insulation last?

Spray foam insulation has a long lifespan and can maintain its performance characteristics for decades. In addition, it is resistant to degradation and settling, which makes it a durable insulation solution.

Does spray foam insulation provide soundproofing benefits?

Yes, spray foam insulation benefits soundproofing by reducing noise transmission between rooms and outside the house. Open-cell foam is particularly effective at absorbing and dampening sound due to its less dense and more porous structure.

How does spray foam insulation affect indoor air quality?

During installation and curing, spray foam insulation can release chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can affect indoor air quality. Therefore, proper ventilation and safety precautions during installation are essential. However, once cured, spray foam insulation typically does not emit significant VOCs or contribute to poor indoor air quality. Since the insulation is applied early in the initial construction timeline, this is rarely a concern for the homeowner when the house is completed.

What are the energy savings associated with spray foam insulation?

Spray foam insulation can yield significant energy savings due to its high R-value, air-sealing properties, and moisture resistance. Of course, the energy savings will depend on the home’s design, local climate, and occupant behavior, but homeowners can expect reduced heating and cooling costs.

Can spray foam insulation be applied to any surface or area in my home?

Spray foam insulation can be applied to various surfaces and areas, including walls, ceilings, floors, attics, and crawl spaces. It is instrumental in hard-to-reach or irregularly shaped spaces where traditional insulation materials may not provide complete coverage.

Can spray foam insulation cause damage to my home or its structural components?

When installed correctly, spray foam insulation should not cause damage to your home or its structural components. However, improper installation or using the wrong type of foam for a specific application can result in issues such as trapped moisture, mold growth, or structural damage. Therefore, working with a professional installer must ensure the correct foam type and proper installation techniques are followed.

Which is the correct type of spray foam insulation for my project?

Consider factors such as the desired R-value, moisture resistance, structural reinforcement, and budget when choosing the right type of spray foam insulation. Consulting with a professional installer or energy auditor can help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs and home characteristics.

What other insulation options are there besides spray foam?

There are several alternatives to spray foam insulation, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some popular options include:

  • Fiberglass batts: These pre-cut sections of insulation made from fine glass fibers are popular due to their affordability and ease of installation, though they may not provide the same air sealing as spray foam.
  • Mineral wool: Also known as rock wool or slag wool, mineral wool is made from rock, slag, or recycled materials. It offers excellent fire resistance and soundproofing properties but can be more expensive than fiberglass.
  • Cellulose: Made from recycled paper products, cellulose insulation, is an eco-friendly option. It can be blown in or installed as dense-packed cellulose, providing good thermal performance and soundproofing. However, it may settle over time, reducing its effectiveness.
  • Rigid foam board: Rigid foam insulation, made from various types of plastic, is available in different thicknesses. It has a higher R-value per inch than fiberglass or cellulose and is often used in exterior applications or new construction.

Deciding On What Type of Insulation to Use

When choosing an insulation material, consider factors such as R-value, moisture resistance, air sealing capabilities, environmental impact, fire resistance, soundproofing properties, and cost. The right insulation for your new home will depend on your specific needs and budget.

In conclusion, spray foam insulation is a great choice for building energy-efficient homes as it provides a high R-value, air-sealing properties, and moisture resistance.

At Lakeshore Custom Homes, we specialize in building energy-efficient homes using spray foam insulation. We have an experienced team of installers who can help you ensure your new home is properly insulated and sealed for maximum energy efficiency.

Please view our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.

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